ENGINEERING REsEaRch at tExas a&M UNIvERsIty
Five years ago, Texas A&M University embarked on an ambitious effort to enhance its academic quality by investing in the expansion of our faculty ranks. Known as the Faculty Reinvestment, more than 400 new faculty positions were created university-wide, and more than 100 of those positions allotted to the Dwight Look College of Engineering. We have successfully completed this unprecedented initiative, and the human capital within our ranks today is immeasurable. The synergy generated has illuminated a bright future â€” not only here at Texas A&M, but ultimately for engineering academicians and practitioners worldwide. Engineering faculty members in all 12 of our departments are making important contributions and discoveries. Our long-standing commitment to research and education has never been stronger. Construction of the $104 million Emerging Technologies Building is now under way and will allow for expansion of our engineering programs in many crucial areas of multidisciplinary research.
This infusion of new faculty and new facilities has invigorated our entire research program and is fueling our passion for providing meaningful solutions to relevant problems. In this magazine, we feature a small sample of research activities by our engineering faculty members. I invite you to read these stories to see how we are growing our capacity and capabilities in engineering at Texas A&M. We have made a lasting commitment to ensure the quality of this program for generations to come by investing in our people. Because there simply is no better investment to be made.
G. Kemble Bennett, Ph.D., P.E.
Vice Chancellor and Dean of Texas A&M Engineering Director, Texas Engineering Experiment Station Harold J. Haynes Deanâ€™s Chair Professor
ENGINEERING research at Texas A&M University
ENGINEERING REsEaRch at tEx as a&M UNIvERsIty
Vice Chancellor and Dean of Engineering
G. Kemble Bennett, Ph.D., P.E. Assistant Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs
Marilyn M. Martell Pamela S. Green editorial
Gene Charleton Marissa Doshi Ryan Garcia Lauren Kern Lesley V. Kriewald Tim Schnettler Gabe Waggoner
301 WISENBAKER ENGINEERING RESEARCH CENTER 3126 TAMU COLLEGE STATION, TX 77843-3126
director of communications
Morphing Aircraft Stopping Bacterial Communication
ON THE COVER Chemical engineering assistant professor Mariah Hahn holds tubing that will become scaffolding on which to grow a new blood vessel. More on page 16.
Matt Zeringue GRAPHIC DESIGN
Charlie Apel Audrey Guidry Online & Interactive design
Donald St. Martin Production & distribution
Jennifer Olivarez Christina Mitchell
Texas A&M Engineer is published by Engineering Communications in the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University to inform readers about faculty research activities. This issue was published in September 2009. Opinions expressed in Texas A&M Engineer are those of the author or editor and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Texas A&M University administration or The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. Media representatives: Permission is granted to use all or part of any article published in this magazine. Appropriate credit and a tearsheet are requested. Contact us: Editor, Texas A&M Engineer Texas A&M Engineering Communications 3134 TAMU College Station, TX 77843-3134
http://engineeringmagazine.tamu.edu email@example.com Not printed at state expense. EC07_9490 9/09 5M
G. Kemble Bennett, vice chancellor and dean of engineering, on site of the $104 million Emerging Technologies Building.
engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
Emerging Technologies Building Propelling research, creativity and innovation to new heights.
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JAMMING THE SIGNAL
Cutting off bacterial communication to stop the spread of sickness
ESTROGEN-EATING BACTERIA = SAFER WATER Bacteria that eat hormones may mean safer water
THE DATA OF DISEASE
Using numbers to prepare for a pandemic
ENGINEERING TISSUE The shape of things to come
MONITORING GLUCOSE PAINLESSLY Taking the sting out of checking blood sugar levels
SAVING EYESIGHT WITH EARLY DETECTION Retinal screening aids in combating diabetic retinopathy
TAKING OIL FROM WATER Purifying Texas’ other liquid resource
ENGINEERING AN OPEN PATH Stents and stability
IRRADIATING CONFIDENCE Improving food quality
GOODBYE, “SELL BY”
Better packaging for fresher, safer produce
Personalized prescriptions to treat disease
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Remedies for rural health care
MANAGING THE STATE’S WATER SUPPLY Software for water allocation
PINPOINTING RADIATION DAMAGE Exploring low-dose radiation
MATERIALS MATTER Polymers for joint replacements
Dry, dusty and complicated
Taking water purification to where it’s needed most
MORPHING MICROAIRCRAFT Unmanned aircraft that change shape in midflight
THESE TURBULENT TIMES Understanding hypersonic turbulence
Biomechanics expert Jay Humphrey
MAKING SALTY WATER FIT TO DRINK Revising technology to boost border town’s water supply
NEW DIRECTION IN DISTRIBUTION Health care certificate program
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STUDENT NEWS LEADERSHIP DISTINGUISHED FACULTY HONORS & AWARDS CHAIRS & PROFESSORSHIPS RESEARCH FACTS
Jamming the Signal
by Lesley Kriewald
Cutting off bacterial communication to stop the spread of sickness
engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
Bacteria in our bodies must communicate with each other to attack us effectively. Texas A&M Engineering researchers are learning how to cut off the germs’ ill-intentioned conversations. It might start with contaminated fruits and vegetables, undercooked ground beef or polluted water. These often carry enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 (EHEC), a virulent strain of bacteria that causes most foodborne illnesses in humans. Infection with EHEC can lead to bloody diarrhea and, sometimes, kidney failure, especially in children and the elderly. Thousands of people are hospitalized in the United States annually because of foodborne illness caused by EHEC. It also leads to a huge waste of food: Because it’s difficult to track where the infection came from, suspect food is thrown away wholesale.
One of the substances Wood and Jayaraman have discovered to be effective is indole, derived from the amino acid tryptophan. In 2007, Wood and Jayaraman published a paper describing how indole inhibited the EHEC pathogen. Another paper in 2008 described how indole inhibited another pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a common bacterium found in soil and water, that causes inflammation and sepsis in humans. “Anywhere water is in a liquid state, bacteria are going to form this slime, or biofilm,” Wood says. “Most of the time, the players in those biofilms are innocuous, but every once in a while, they’re pathogenic.”
“What we do is study how bacteria talk, always with the motivation of stopping them from talking and preventing disease states,” Wood says. But chemical engineers Tom Wood and Arul Jayaraman, faculty members in Texas A&M’s Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, are developing new ways to stop bacterial infections such as those caused by EHEC by preventing the bacteria from communicating with each other. When bacteria can’t communicate, they lose their ability to cause infections. “It’s a new paradigm for combating bacteria,” Wood says. What’s new about this, the researchers say, is that the compounds in this arsenal are not antibiotics or antimicrobials. Antibiotics work by slowing the growth or spread of bacteria, which pushes them to evolve and adapt to resist the antibiotic. Instead, the compounds Wood and Jayaraman are using are the very chemicals bacteria use to communicate. No communication between bacteria means there is no cue for bacteria to attack. And, unlike antibiotics and antimicrobials, there’s no Darwinian selection pressure for the bacteria to evolve resistance against them.
Pathogenic biofilms in our mouths cause cavities in our teeth, and in our intestines, biofilms can make us sick. In lungs, Pseudomonas biofilms can cause fatal bacterial infections in patients with cystic fibrosis. Wood and Jayaraman say that indole shows the ability to significantly decrease the virulence of bacteria such as EHEC and Pseudomonas. The reason, they say, is because indole interferes with the way bacteria communicate with each other. “What we do is study how bacteria talk, always with the motivation of stopping them from talking and preventing disease states,” Wood says. “Indole takes the cell phones out of the bacteria’s hands so they can’t talk to each other.”
Communication between bacteria
Bacteria communicate with each other by making sensor molecules that they send out of the cell. Wood says, “They can’t do smoke signals, they can’t do electricity. All they have in their arsenal are these chemicals they can secrete, and that’s what nature has taken advantage of for communication.”
Chemical Engineering Professor, Mike O’Connor II Chair 979.862.1588 firstname.lastname@example.org
Researchers in Wood and Jayaraman’s labs are studying ways to stop bacteria from communicating with each other to stop disease from spreading. This could lead to a whole new class of antimicrobial agents to treat bacterial infections without the resistance that builds up with overuse of antibiotics.
“We have recently shown that bacteria can actually pick up other signals made by other substances in the human body, such as hormones … basically there’s this whole ocean of signals out there that bacteria can pick up and bring into a cell to start an infection,” Jayaraman says. It’s called quorum sensing, Jayaraman says. “The bacteria are geared to pick up their signals,” he says. “Sometimes they pick up other signals if they want to hijack someone else’s train and run with it, but those are the ways bacteria communicate. So when the signal is sensed, it goes back into the cell and tells the bacteria to do or not to do something.”
Chemical Engineering Ray Nesbitt Assistant Professor 979.845.3306 email@example.com
The pair studied indole because they thought it might be one of these chemical signals, and indeed, they found the compound is involved in bacterial communication. Now they’ve shown that even derivatives of indole are effective, because they function in a similar way to indole, confusing bacteria and stopping pathogenic behaviors. And this communication method, Wood says, is interesting because indole also is the signal made by the normal, beneficial E. coli K12 in our bodies, not the disease-causing E. coli. But when that
indole signal is picked up by a pathogenic bacterium, the signal tells the pathogen to do things that decrease its virulence, or ability to cause disease.
“The whole idea is that one bacterium can have this dramatic effect on another bacterium that doesn’t even make the signal but has the ears to listen to it,” Wood says. Jayaraman says that this kind of eavesdropping goes on continuously. “We have recently shown that bacteria can actually pick up other signals made by other substances in the human body, such as hormones. So it’s not just bacteria picking up other bacteria signals; basically there’s this whole ocean of signals out there that bacteria can pick up and bring into a cell to start an infection.” Wood says bacteria essentially sit back and monitor the state of our bodies for these signals. In the 1930s, for example, it was shown that adrenaline could cause patient death. The presence of adrenaline signals stress, and Pseudomonas in the gut could pick up on that stress signal, attack and cause deadly infections. engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
Battling Biofilms! Wood says that whenever liquid water is present, bacteria will form a slime, or biofilm, on any surface. Bacteria, in fact, prefer to be on surfaces because this position gives them an edge against attackers. Chronic ear infections in children are caused by bacterial biofilms in the middle ear.
Biofilms in the mouth can cause cavities, and Wood says this film can form quickly — within 30 minutes of being scraped off by a hygienist. “This is something that has been observed in hospitals quite often,” Jayaraman says. “Whenever there’s been trauma, surgery, injury, that’s when patients get really sick and develop sepsis.” The researchers say that because we can’t cleanse the body of bacteria completely, we need to find ways to keep the bacteria from harming us. That means learning what the bacteria are doing, how they listen to our hormones, and then come up with chemical ways to suppress the bad behavior. “And these indole compounds and some other compounds we’ve found are the best means we have so far of doing that,” Wood says. Another of these compounds is uracil, one of the four building blocks of RNA. Wood and Jayaraman have found that uracil is an internal chemical signal, and uracil derivatives also can control pathogens. For instance, adding a fluorine atom to uracil will stop bacteria from talking to each other. It’s like what would happen if you started randomly adding extra letters to the words you say or write: Nobody could understand you. It’s the same for communication between bacteria. They can’t make sense out of the garbled signal. “This could be a whole new arsenal of antivirulence compounds,” Wood says. O
Slime that forms on artificial valves and implants is another example of a biofilm. Wood says this coating forms quickly in the body. The U.S. Navy spends millions of dollars every year to remove biofilms from ship hulls because friction caused by the biofilms slows down the ships.
Antibiofilm agents include toothpaste, antinausea medicine for cases of food poisoning, and preservatives to make fresh flowers last longer.
Usually, when you mention bacteria in connection with water, it’s a bad thing. But one Texas A&M engineering researcher believes the right bacteria are a natural weapon for fighting an emerging water contaminant: estrogen. Few things are more refreshing after a hot session with the lawnmower than a glass of cool water from the faucet. But as you drink, you may be getting more than refreshment. You may be getting an extra dose of drugs, a dose you probably don’t want. Increasingly sensitive methods of screening water for polluting substances allow environmental scientists to monitor traces of previously undetected contaminants in otherwise clean water: trace amounts of pharmaceutical and personal care products ranging from antibiotics to anesthetics and, especially, estrogens. The presence of any of these drugs concerns public health officials, but Kung-Hui (Bella) Chu, a civil engineer and assistant professor in the environmental and water resources engineering division of the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, is particularly interested in estrogen in water. “We are talking about trace amounts of these materials,” Chu says. “We’re talking about concentrations of, usually, nanograms per liter. It’s very low.” But even at these low concentrations, Chu says, the presence of estrogens in water is something to be concerned about. So far, the most direct evidence of the impact of estrogens in water has been found in male fish
swimming downstream from estrogen-containing water sources. Some have been found to have both male and female sexual characteristics, such as partially developed ova, or eggs, in their testes. Fish damaged in this way have been found in the United States, Great Britain, Italy and other places. This sex-related damage to fish may not be significant in itself, but researchers suggest that it’s a warning of potential dangers to humans. Estrogens in drinking water could affect male fertility by interfering with sperm production. Links between environmental estrogenic compounds and several kinds of cancer, especially breast and testicular cancer, also have been suggested.
Sources of the problem
Estrogen and estrogen-like compounds find their way into water from many sources. Naturally occurring estrogen compounds come from livestock urine and feces, and from human excretions and contraceptives and hormone replacement medications. Other estrogen-like compounds can be found in everything from insecticides to plastics, and they all find their way into the water supply. About 80 percent of 139 U.S. rivers are contaminated with these trace compounds. Existing water treatment processes — which often involve naturally occurring bacteria in sewage sludge — remove as much as 94 percent of
engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
By Gene Charleton
estrogen from untreated water, but what remains is still potent enough to cause damage to fish, and, researchers fear, humans. Although harmful estrogens often remain in water after treatment, this performance is not surprising, Chu says, because conventional water treatment processes weren’t designed to deal with estrogens.
Bacteria to the rescue
Chu has long been interested in biological approaches to water quality problems. In wastewater treatment, this means using bacteria to clean up the wastewater. She and her colleagues are looking for bacteria that will make existing treatment processes more effective. The main function of these bacteria is to break down organic pollutants in water. Her main focus is on searching for wastewater bacteria that are capable of breaking down estrogens into harmless end products. If she finds them, the estrogen degradation ability of these bacteria could be capitalized in engineered bioreactors to remove estrogens. Chu and her colleagues have found 14 different species of bacteria that can break down estrogens, and they’ve published details of their findings in scientific journals. All 14 break down 17ß-estradiol, a female reproductive hormone also commonly used in oral contraceptives, to a less-potent compound called estrone. Three of the 14 break down estrone
further into harmless end products, and one does it particularly quickly.
Chu and her colleagues have found 14 different species of bacteria that can break down estrogens and are now trying to understand how these bacteria can break down estrogens into harmless end products. The researchers now are trying to understand the enzymes and degradation pathway that single bacterium uses to destroy estrone. Their idea is to define the optimal growth conditions to promote the growth of these estrogen-degrading bacteria in biological wastewater treatment processes as a means to break down estrogens quickly and completely — and relatively inexpensively. “Adding such a bacterium could be an efficient and relatively inexpensive way to proactively avoid adverse health effects from estrogens,” Chu says. O
Kung-Hui (Bella) Chu
Civil Engineering Assistant Professor 979.845.1403 firstname.lastname@example.org
TH DATA 0F D1SEA5E
How engineers are using numbers to help prepare for a pandemic by Lesley Kriewald
Historical records of common childhood diseases such as chicken pox and measles show only part of the picture of an outbreak. Texas A&M engineers are developing mathematical models and tools to get a more complete picture, which will help public health officials deal with disease outbreaks. Or a pandemic. All over the world, measles and chicken pox are part of childhood. One Texas A&M engineer is using health data from around the world to model how these childhood infectious diseases spread and help public health officials make better decisions on how best to handle disease outbreaks.
Chemical Engineering Assistant Professor 979.458.4514 email@example.com
Carl Laird, an assistant professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, is working with Johns Hopkins researchers to bring operations research, optimization and model-based decision-making techniques to public health. He says he hopes his research could give public health officials tools that will help them deal with largescale health crises such as an influenza pandemic, something many disease experts say will occur sometime in the future.
Using available information
Laird uses data from several cities and countries on outbreaks of infectious childhood diseases such as chicken pox and measles. It covers outbreaks dating back 30 years and is organized according to where cases of disease were found and what month they occurred in. Some information comes from England and Wales, and cities like New York City, Baltimore and others, from various different time frames. The reason for these cities, he says, is simply because datasets exist for these locations. But most of the data Laird uses comes from Thailand. The data from Thailand represents a very different socioeconomic setting than in the United States and England: a developing country as opposed to industrialized nations. But epidemic datasets are rarely ever perfect or complete. So one key aspect of Lairdâ€™s work is developing tools to overcome the difficulty inherent in datasets, particularly from developing countries.
Finding a connection
Laird focuses on childhood infectious diseases for several reasons: The relative regularity of data collection (outbreaks of chicken pox occur every year); ease of diagnosis by doctors without expensive testing; and immunity retention (a low risk of reinfection), which is a concern when monitoring the spread of influenza. Other reasons, Laird says, include the relatively high case counts of chicken pox and measles, and datasets that span both the prevaccination and vaccination eras.
engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
“The eventual goal is to develop effective disease models for a number of infectious diseases,” Laird says. “We start with childhood diseases because the information is reliable insofar as it’s kept and reported.”
“What you find that’s remarkable is that you get patterns that don’t look like much until you overlay them with holidays: Transmission is high when students are in school; low when they’re not.”
Laird and his team use disease data for a specific location and time to try to “back-calculate” seasonal patterns in transmission driving the spread “The eventual goal is to develop of the disease. His work (and the work of others) effective disease models for a has shown that the seanumber of infectious diseases. sonal variation driving dynamics observed in We start with childhood diseases the diseases such as measles with schoolbecause the information is reliable correlates term holidays.
insofar as it’s kept and reported.”
“Transmission is highest when kids are in school,” he says, “and transmission rates drop while students are on break.” And because school holidays are different in England and Thailand, Laird says that comparing disease transmission patterns from these disparate locations helps demonstrate that the increase is a result of school terms rather than time of year or other factors.
“We have so much information from the data that we can clearly see the connection between start of school and disease transmission,” he says. This connection between school terms and disease transmission is improving the researchers’ fundamental understanding of what affects the spread of disease. By discovering how school-term holidays are linked to the transmission, experts can provide advice to health officials in a pandemic. “If an option in a pandemic is to close schools, we need to try to quantify that to show how much closing schools will lower rate of infection,” he says.
Developing new models
“We don’t make any preconceived assumptions on what these driving forces are, so we don’t test specifically for school holidays or temperatures or migration patterns. We say, ‘All I know beforehand is that this pattern is consistent from year to year,’ and then we use our optimization tools to infer the transmission pattern using the data alone.
Traditional models for infectious disease modeling use birthrates as an indicator of new “susceptibles” (in other words, children who are just born and have not yet had chicken pox or measles and therefore are susceptible to the diseases) entering the population. If the models are broken up into, say, two weeks, then every couple of weeks a couple of thousand new children enter the population. But Laird says that entering school has a much more significant and accurate impact on disease transmission rather than just entering the population (i.e., being born).
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Time in year (month) 35
These curves show the profile of the seasonal transmission parameter estimated from measles case count data from New York City (top) and Bangkok (bottom). The gray region indicates the approximate period of school holidays for the years investigated.
And to take it one step further, Laird has worked to determine the effect of the fact that students all start school in September.
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15 10 0 "#
Time in year (month) (#
“We’ve been able to show that new births into the population have the most impact on observed measles cases when those children reach ages four to five — when they enter school — rather than when they’re born.”
Laird says that one of the unique things his team has done is to include the data from Thailand, which has a very different school term structure, and then develop new techniques that make it easier to deal with difficult datasets in terms of trying to estimate these driving forces. “In current research, we are determining the impact of infections in a large city spreading to smaller towns, which is called spatial correlation,” Laird says. “For example, people visiting small towns from, say, London: How important is that to determining the dynamics of the disease? There has been little research in this area, and we are expanding on this with our tools and methods.” So Laird and his group are building large models to describe how diseases propagate across a country like Thailand. The algorithms are large-scale, nonlinear programming developed by Laird for his Ph.D. work at CarnegieMellon, in conjunction with researchers at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center.
“We want to use optimization techniques to show officials where they can get the most out of their money in terms of treating and controlling the spread of these infectious diseases.” “We have models on the provincial level, so in the case of Thailand, there are 72 provinces. Data and models are separated by province. “If an outbreak occurs in one location, how will that affect the rest of the country?” he says. “We are using data on common endemic diseases to try to understand what’s happening in that system.”
Controlling spread of disease
Laird says one long-term goal of this research is to be able to more effectively control disease transmission. “One of the things people propose for a flu pandemic is closing schools. To evaluate the effectiveness of this strategy, we have to understand the effect of school closures on transmission. The assumption that with school closed, transmission drops to zero, is ridiculous, because certainly children are still interacting. So we’re trying to quantify these effects from the data we have to help answer those kinds of questions.” Laird says another issue is that in the United States, we tend to not think about the spread of childhood diseases because vaccines and widespread vaccination programs make outbreaks relatively uncommon. But in other countries, he says, lack of infrastructure, money and vaccine supply means fewer people are vaccinated. He hopes public health officials will be able to use models like the one he is developing to demonstrate the need for vaccination and determine how best to use available resources to minimize disease spread. “We want to use optimization techniques to show officials where they can get the most out of their money in terms of treating and controlling the spread of these infectious diseases.” O
DATA ABOUT THE DATA The data Laird uses is collected from monitoring programs operated by public health officials in each country. The trouble, Laird says, is that the data represents only a percentage of the cases. In the data he uses from England, about one in two cases is reported, whereas in the data from Thailand, the rate can be as low as one in 100 cases. Furthermore, he says, this reporting fraction changes with time.
Despite this, though, Laird says this is the best data available. “You’re trying to recreate what’s happening with the disease when you’re really only seeing tiny pieces of what’s unfolding.” And, Laird says, it’s not because the diseases aren’t easy to recognize. Not every public hospital is enrolled in reporting programs, and there’s no guarantee that private hospitals have participated in reporting either. Also, data have been collected over a period of 20 to 30 years, during which administrative changes have affected the information and how it was collected. Laird says, “There are challenges in the data, including changing provincial boundaries, some missing years and variations in reporting fraction. However, the Ministry of Public Health in Thailand has worked hard with us and collaborators to make this information available for our research.” And challenging data outlines the challenges involved in doing what Laird does. “The techniques we are developing are geared specifically to deal with difficult datasets. How do we work with realistic epidemic datasets that have these challenges and still develop effective models and provide guidance and quantification? That’s what we’re working toward.”
engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
by Ryan Garcia
Chemical engineering assistant professor Mariah Hahn shows an example of scaffolding on which she will grow new blood vessels. Hydrogels she is developing provide similar scaffolding for other biomedical applications.
Medical science does wonderful things, but now and then, doctors hit gaps in what they can do. Consider coronary artery bypass surgery to treat heart disease. Surgeons perform this procedure so often, it’s become routine. But sometimes patients lack the right blood vessels elsewhere in their bodies that surgeons can borrow to build the bypass. Enter Mariah Hahn, an assistant professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering. Hahn is an expert in vascular tissue engineering — creating small-diameter blood vessels like the coronary arteries involved in bypass surgery. “A lot of people have coronary artery bypass procedures, and right now there are no good replacements for coronary arteries other than taking tissue from another part of your body,” Hahn says. “About one bypass patient in five has no such suitable tissue. Tissue engineering has the potential to fill this clinical need.” Hahn’s research focuses on studying regeneration of organs for which the ability to hold particular shapes to function is crucial. She is especially interested in blood vessels, bone and vocal cords. Her current work is concentrated on hydrogels, gellike substances that provide a framework to support natural cells as they grow into the shape of whatever organ is needed. A hydrogel of particular interest to Hahn combines collagen, the major structural protein in the human body, and alginate, a sugarlike substance found in the cell walls of algae. “We want cells to reproduce what is native for that organ,” Hahn says. “For example, if we are trying to restore damaged bone, we want the material to instruct the cells to produce normal bone. This means that cells should deposit what we call an ‘extracellular matrix,’ and the proteins composing this extracellular matrix should be present in the same amount and organization as in normal bone. “It’s not enough just to have the proper ingredients; you also must mix it together properly. Think of making a cake. It’s the amount and how it’s organized spatially that makes it work.”
Chemical Engineering Assistant Professor 979.862.1454 firstname.lastname@example.org
Making this work is a complex process with progress measured in inches rather than miles, but it’s one for which there is a pressing need. “We understand cells so imperfectly,” Hahn says. “There is so much to discover about them. How can we get cells to do what we want them to do? Researchers have been studying tissue engineering for more than 30 years, and we still can’t replace or
regenerate certain aspects of skin, for example. We can’t yet engineer capillary beds.”
“Right now there are no good replacements for coronary arteries other than taking tissue from another part of your body. About one bypass patient in five has no such suitable tissue. Tissue engineering has the potential to fill this clinical need.” In addition to her work with vascular tissue engineering, Hahn also is focusing on structures to recreate tissues that allow vocal cords, or vocal folds, to function. She began working on materials to allow cells to repair damage to vocal folds while she was a graduate student at MIT, where she received her Ph.D. Vocal folds present researchers working on treatments with some tricky problems. These sound-producing structures in our throats are easily damaged. Excessive talking, yelling, smoking, even clearing your throat too often can damage them to the point it becomes difficult or impossible to speak. Even injecting healing materials can damage the vocal cords. This makes it desirable to find treatments that involve as few injections as possible. Hahn’s hydrogel maintains its original shape and mass significantly longer than most materials currently used for vocal cord repair and allows cells to synthesize new extracellular matrix. This could reduce the need for multiple surgical procedures. As with lip augmentation, multiple injections are required in vocal cord repair if the injected material does not maintain its original volume for a long enough time. But for the vocal cords, multiple procedures carry a high risk of causing further injury and should be avoided. An additional benefit of Hahn’s material is that its mechanical properties can be readily tailored to the individual patient. Hahn’s hydrogels show promise for other difficult treatment, beyond blood vessels and vocal cords. Tissue engineering may lead to more effective treatments for burn victims as well as those suffering from injuries and even degenerative or congenital defects. Hahn says she realizes she has big problems ahead of her, and she’s looking forward to solving them. “There are so many questions, and they’re questions I’m interested in; they’re questions I get excited about.” O engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
Gerard CotĂŠ, head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M University, works with the lasers that are shined on a sheath of tiny fluorescent beads that are inserted into the wrist of diabetic patients. When the lasers hit the sheath, it glows and changes colors in response to changes in blood sugar levels.
MONITORING GLUCOSE PAINLESSLY by Tim Schnettler
The painful finger-pricks diabetics are forced to endure when checking their blood sugar levels could become a thing of the past thanks to the work of engineering researchers at Texas A&M. If the work of Gerard Coté, head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Michael Pishko, head of the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, continues on schedule, a new less invasive way to monitor blood sugar levels could be available to patients within a few years. Coté, holder of the Charles H. and Bettye Barclay Professorship, and Pishko, holder of the Charles D. Holland ’53 Professorship, are developing a process that would allow individuals to check their blood sugars with the mere glance at a wristwatchlike meter.
Devloping the idea for “smart” tattoos
The idea for the nonsticking technology came to Coté while he was attending a conference and heard a doctor’s presentation on using lasers to remove tattoos. The lecturer mentioned how it would be nice if someone could come up with a “smart” tattoo that actually did something beyond displaying “Mom” or a rose on the shoulder.
Gerard L. Coté
Biomedical Engineering Department Head, Charles H. and Bettye Barclay Professor 979.845.4196 email@example.com
“I was already working in the glucose sensing area for diabetics,” Coté says, “and I thought, maybe there is an implant we could develop that I could optically interrogate.” Upon returning from the conference, Coté contacted Pishko, who at the time was an assistant professor at Texas A&M.
Together, the two started forming the chemistry, polymer materials, and optics to measure blood sugar levels. Initial concepts of their idea provided enough promise to receive funding from the National Science Foundation and the State of Texas Advance Research Program. This allowed the idea to take shape and grow, quickly gaining momentum toward revolutionizing diabetes management.
How it works
Their technology works by taking a sheaf of tiny fluorescent beads — smaller than a strand of human hair — and inserting it into the wrist of a diabetic patient, just below the skin. The sheath is invisible, but when you shine a small laser on it, it glows and changes color in response to changes in blood sugar levels. The laser illuminates the beads and their color changes in response to the levels of glucose around them, offering a permanent, painless visual monitor for the patient. The information would be provided in real time to the patient through some sort of device — a wristwatch, for instance — that would provide a digital readout of glucose levels and alert the wearer to dangerous fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
Improving on current techniques
This technology dramatically improves upon current diabetes monitoring in two ways. First, it would allow diabetics to check their glucose levels without having to draw blood. Second, and more important, it would provide reliable and consistent monitoring, especially when it is sometimes difficult: when the diabetic is sleeping. engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
“The watch-type device, you could wear at night,” Coté says. “One of the big things for diabetics is that sometimes at night, their glucose levels crash down, and there is no reliable way to monitor that.
Melissa Grunlan, an assistant professor in biomedical engineering, works with polymer materials and is helping to develop the sheath that is used to inject the beads.
“A lot of spouses or significant others will lie next to their partner waiting for them to sweat. About 50 percent of patients will sweat when they are about to go into a diabetic coma.”
Grunlan, along with Coté and Pishko, received a grant from the National Institutes of Health during the summer of 2009 to develop the biocompatible polymer sheath for glucose monitoring.
Not every diabetic can count on such close observation. And even with a watchful eye, it is dangerous guesswork where a wrong answer could lead to a fatal diabetic coma or death.
The researchers have conducted preliminary studies of the beads implanted in rats. As expected, the beads did fluoresce under the rats’ skin and the fluorescent response changed when there was a change in the glucose level in the rat. Coté cautions, however, that these are “very, very” preliminary studies.
This technology works to eliminate that by alerting the diabetic when his or her blood sugar levels start to decline. “There is no reason why we can’t incorporate an alarm into the monitor so a patient would be alerted when their glucose starts to go into a critical path upward or a critical path downward,” Coté says. Among the challenges Coté and his colleagues have faced was how to successfully implant the beads into the wrist of the diabetic patient and work properly without a negative reaction from the body. The researchers didn’t want to just inject the beads, which would be hard to remove if that were to ever become necessary. Also, when the human body detects a foreign object, it typically reacts by trying to push it back out or by forming a capsule around it. Either reaction would hinder the beads’ ability to monitor glucose levels. So Coté enlisted another colleague to contribute to the project.
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“We injected the spheres into the abdomens of the rats in two different locations and then we gave them an injection of glucose,” Coté says. “We monitored the locations and saw that the changes correlated to the glucose in both locations. Now we need to do extended studies.”
Early tests positive
Though the sensor is still in the preliminary stages of development, interest is already high. As word of his research spread, Coté says he began receiving inquiries from patients interested in the technology. It even caught the attention of Reader’s Digest magazine, appearing in an article in the March 2008 edition. “If everything is successful, we are projecting somewhere in the fourth or fifth year [of trial studies] before we would actually be selling limited amounts of the product. This is something that would definitely help many patients when perfected.” O
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An off-the-shelf retina camera and software that has been developed by Steve Liu and other researchers reads the data from the image of a patientâ€™s retina as part of the Texas Advanced DR detection system, which will aid in the early diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy.
SAVING EYESIGHT WITH EARLY DETECTION by Tim Schnettler
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Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease, but its symptoms often do not manifest until it is too late. Texas A&M researchers are working to make early detection easier. Sight is a precious gift. But it is one that an estimated 20,000 people lose each year to an unexpected source, diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of adult blindness in Americans between the ages of 25 and 74. Early detection could prevent up to 90 percent of those cases, according to the AgrAbility Project. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by too much blood sugar, resulting in blocked or damaged capillaries and lesions in the eye; blurred vision; and, sometimes, blindness. Detecting the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy in the early stages has long been a problem because of the amount of labor and the number of errors associated with screening for the disease. Researchers in Texas A&M’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering are using sophisticated computer analysis techniques to make early detection easier. “Diabetic retinopathy is a hidden problem, and chronic patients don’t have obvious symptoms before it becomes too late,” says Steve Liu, a professor in computer science. “There are issues with how you detect and identify these symptoms earlier so you can begin treatment to slow down the development of this disease. To do this, Liu and his colleagues have developed a computer-based diabetic retinopathy detection system that uses computer algorithms to recognize the well-defined symptoms of the disease, especially the symptoms that appear in the earliest stages. This system, the Texas Advanced DR detection system (TADRS), involves two key pieces of equipment: an off-the-shelf retina camera and software that has been developed by Liu and other researchers to read the data from the picture of a patient’s retina.
The camera that is used is a nonmydriatic retina camera that can take pictures of the retina without having to dilate the pupil. Not having to dilate the pupil allows someone with less training to do the screening, providing greater access for more patients. “Dilation would give a better-quality image,” Liu says. “But because we want to do this, hopefully in primary care — a first-line-of-care location — without dilation you don’t require extra training for the nurse.” The software Liu developed takes the data and picture of the retina from the camera, analyzes it, and recognizes trouble spots that could be signs of diabetic retinopathy. “We have worked with ophthalmologists, and every one of them points to one thing that is critical — microaneurysm,” Liu says. A microaneurysm is an enlargement of blood vessels in the retina at weak spots caused by high levels of glucose in the blood. The balloon-like enlargements gradually force their way through the retina’s tissue layers and show themselves as circles or blobs. Being able to detect them is crucial for diagnosis. “This is the most reliable indicator,” Liu says. “We have been told to focus on this as [one of the] major detection criteria. We developed the computer procedures to detect this.” Currently, the collected data is sent to screening software servers in Liu’s lab on campus. Ultimately, the goal is to place the detection software on-site so that once a patient is screened, health care providers can decide immediately whether to forward a case to a higher level of care. 21
Computer software reads the image of a patient’s retina to aid in the early detection of diabetic retinopathy.
“The image of the retina will be read by the computer software, and if it passed a certain bar of concern, it would be sent to the clinicians, who are the experts and the most reliable source,” Liu says. “The objective is to not have the data read by a professional unless the case becomes serious enough. “The majority of the people coming to visit do not have a problem. If everybody’s results were read by a professional, it would be a waste of time and money.”
Jyh-Charn (Steve) Liu Computer Science & Engineering Professor 979.845.8739 firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to cutting down on the time necessary to review the scans and determine whether further action is necessary, the process allows diabetics to have their retinal photos screened more regularly and more conveniently. Liu’s research will also address one of the major barriers to diagnosis: cost. “If you look at the population distribution of diabetes, many of the individuals are in undercared-for sectors,” Liu says. “People’s eyes could
be photographed, but it is a costly, slow and labor-intensive process. This can be eased by this technology.” The technology can help screen for diabetic retinopathy, but Liu points out that it is not a tool for diagnosing diabetes; instead, it gives clinicians an idea of how the vascular network is being affected by chronic situations, one of which is diabetic retinopathy. TADRS is currently being used in clinical trials in 12 Texas cities — Alice, Beaumont, Bryan, Conroe, Corpus Christi, Georgetown, Laredo, Nacogdoches, Paris, Richmond, Sinton and Waco — as well as internationally in Mexico City, Saltillo, and Monterrey, Mexico. Liu says the response has been extremely positive, a sign of hope for addressing the leading cause of adult blindness in Americans. “It is a problem that is too important to be put aside.” Liu says. O
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TAKING OIL FROM WATER By Gene Charleton
Petroleum engineer David Burnett adjusts the flow of wastewater through the filter rig.
Oil in Texas gets a lot of attention, but engineers are developing new ways to separate the water that comes with it and clean the water so it can be used elsewhere. When people mention liquid natural resources in Texas, it’s easy to assume they’re talking about oil. Petroleum engineer David Burnett isn’t. He’s thinking about water. “In Texas, the oil industry produces seven to 10 times as much water as it does oil and gas,” says Burnett, director of technology for the Texas A&M Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering’s Global Petroleum Research Institute. In the Barnett Shale play in Texas, for example, wells require from 5 million to 7 million gallons of water per well to stimulate gas production from the tight gas-containing formation. Wells in other areas use similar amounts. Reusing this wastewater from oil and gas drilling can reduce costs and lower the impact in environmentally sensitive areas. There’s a problem, of course. The water that comes back when the well is completed is contaminated by reservoir rock and hydrocarbons from the crude oil and gas. The brine also contains traces of dissolved minerals and chemicals such as silica and heavy metals. Producers reinject this brine to maintain pressure and recover more gas or oil from the reservoir. Burnett and a team of researchers from the petroleum engineering department and GPRI have been working on ways to adapt conventional membrane filter technology often used in municipal water treatment operations to purify oil and gas field wastewater.
Petroleum Engineering Director of Technology & Research Coordinator Global Petroleum Research Institute 979.845.2274 email@example.com
Membrane filters come in different pore sizes, ranging from micro through nano to reverse osmosis filters, the tightest filter. Reverse osmosis membranes — the kind used in home filtration units — have pores so small that they catch 99 percent of the contaminants in the water and only pure water gets through. The problem, however, is that contaminants tend to build up on the surface of the membrane, reducing filter efficiency.
“We need to use this recycled water. Why pay $1.80 for a gallon of gas and $3 for a gallon of water in Big Bend? We have more than enough water to take care of the needs of Texas for the next 100 years if we use these technologies.” “We have been developing reliable membrane filtration processes for almost a decade,” Burnett says. His team is working on technology to selectively remove contaminants from water produced from oil and gas wells. Water flowback from hydraulic fracturing practices is a vexing problem encountered by producers developing unconventional gas and oil resources worldwide. If treated to remove solids and other contaminants, much of this water can be reused, avoiding the competition with communities and agriculture for fresh water. In West Texas’ Permian Basin, fields producing from conventional formations make seven times as much water as oil, with each barrel of water requiring reinjection for disposal. In an area plagued with droughts and water shortages, the potential for reuse of purified water is clear. “We need to use this recycled water,” Burnett says. “Why pay $1.80 for a gallon of gas and $3 for a gallon of water in Big Bend? We have more than enough water to take care of the needs of Texas for the next 100 years if we use these technologies.” O
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New stents will keep the blood flowing
by Lauren Kern
Biomedical engineer James Moore holds an example of the stents he is developing.
Heart disease is a silent killer. In the United States, cardiovascular diseases kill more people than any other cause of death. The American Heart Association estimates that more than 860,000 people die each year from some form of the syndrome: aneurysms; angina, heart-related chest pain; stroke; cerebrovascular disease; congestive heart failure; coronary artery disease; heart attack; peripheral vascular disease. About 80 million suffer from one or more of these diseases. Researchers study cardiovascular diseases to save lives. Biomedical engineer James Moore hopes his research will save his own life someday. “Cardiovascular disease runs in my family and claimed the lives of my grandfather and two uncles. Part of my motivation is self-preservation. I want better stents to be ready by the time I need them,” Moore says. Moore, a professor in Texas A&M’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and a noted pioneer in stent research, studies arteries and the way blood flows through them to find clues to better stent designs. “Both fluid and solid mechanics play a role in the formation of the original disease, so there is good motivation to study how changes in blood flow patterns and artery wall stresses associated with stents may lead to clinical failures of the treatment,” Moore says. Moore studies the stresses on artery walls so he can understand what happens to arteries as blood flows through them. Understanding these fundamental processes has helped Moore engineer stents that are biomechanically “friendlier” to the artery wall than the ones in use today. He holds two United States patents and one foreign patent for stent designs. He also has co-founded two stent-related technology companies.
Opening a path to healthier hearts
Stents were first approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration in 1995. They have come a long way since, and Moore has been there almost every step of the way. At the time, Moore was a professor of biomedical engineering at Florida International University. He and one of his Ph.D. students studying the effect of blood flow on stents lit a spark of inspiration. By the end of that first day, the two had developed an initial design for a stent that would improve blood flow patterns and reduce stress on artery walls. “It was a very successful day,” Moore says, chuckling at the understatement.
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He’s never looked back, and since then, he and his students have applied mechanical engineering principles to understanding blood flow in arteries and the impact of stents on the forces that press on artery walls, all aimed at designing better stents. The need to improve the interaction between stents and the blood flow in arteries comes from the high failure rates that were historically associated with stent procedures.
“That’s why we are working to improve stent design from the biomechanical point of view, because if we can minimize the long-term irritation to the artery wall, we can minimize these clinical failures,” Moore says. Dating back to the late 1970s, coronary angioplasty, a procedure in which a balloon is inserted into an artery to prop it open, was used to combat problems with atherosclerosis. This procedure had a 50–50 success rate. Introducing stents to this procedure boosted success rates upward, first to 70 percent and eventually to the current 80 percent. Some drug-coated stents have neared a 90 percent success rate. But problems persist, most resulting from placing a foreign object into the body.
Mechanics of stents
Stents are implanted into a blood vessel by using a flexible, plastic tube with a collapsed balloon and stent on the end. When the balloon is inflated, the stent expands, locks in place and forms a scaffold, keeping the artery open. In most cases, the stent stays where placed in the artery, permanently. “The initial injury to the artery wall by the balloon expansion and the chronic irritation of the artery wall by the stent itself leads to formation of scar tissue,” Moore says. “The artery is not used to the high stresses that a stent induces in the artery wall, and it responds with cellular proliferation and a sequence of events to try to deal with this injury and chronic irritation presented by this chunk of metal that is left behind in the artery wall.” Moore is investigating ways to combat these issues. “Recently, we’ve been modeling biodegradable stents, which is what many people feel is the next wave of development in stent technology,” Moore says. With stents made of biodegradable materials, one could be inserted into the artery to prop the artery
open long enough for it to heal itself but then gradually disappear. This type of stent would bypass many of the problems with irritation caused by long exposure of the artery wall to a metal stent. “That’s why we are working to improve stent design from the biomechanical point of view, because if we can minimize the long-term irritation to the artery wall, we can minimize these clinical failures,” Moore says. Moore and his colleagues are testing the mechanical properties of different biodegradable polymers in laboratory settings. There, the polymers are kept at body temperature in a saline bath and subjected to experimental loads equivalent to loads in the body. The researchers have been running these experiments for more than a year, measuring the properties every few months. They use their measurements to predict mathematically each structure’s behavior and compare with CT scans of stents in actual patients to model how stress on artery walls affects blood flow.
The next generation of stents
Biomechanics is a complex subject. Moore approaches it from all angles by engaging multidisciplinary expertise at Texas A&M University. Working with Ph.D. student Luke Timmins, Moore and College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences veterinary cardiologist Matthew Miller and veterinary pathologist Fred Clubb test the stents in laboratory animals in a collaboration that may be unprecedented. The physiology of a pig is very similar to that of a human. So they are testing stent designs by implanting the devices into pigs. Using measurements from these studies, they are developing computational models to predict how the stents would work in humans. An additional stroke of good fortune may accelerate their studies. Moore, Miller and Clubb expect the soon-to-be-opened Texas A&M Institute for Preclinical Studies (TIPS) to allow them to extend their research even further and perhaps give them a head start on the FDA approval process for medical devices. Getting to that point is no easy task, through research and clinical studies. Working on a device for the inside of a body must be daunting, but Moore says he is up to the challenge.
James E. Moore Jr.
Biomedical Engineering Professor 979.845.3299 firstname.lastname@example.org
“It’s like working on your car with the hood down,” Moore says. O
Advances in Food Safety by Lauren Kern
You might not see bugs and bacteria on fresh fruit and vegetables, but theyâ€™re there. Texas A&M food engineers are experimenting with new technologies to eliminate these threats to keep our produce safe and healthy.
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Food engineering graduate student Carmen Gomes searches for new ways to keep fruits and vegetables safer and fresher for longer. Methods include irradiating the produce with a burst of energy and novel packaging.
IRRADIATING CONFIDENCE Despite rigorous national standards, in 2006, spinach infected with Escherichia coli made it to consumers undetected, and more recently tomatoes hit the market with a rare form of Salmonella Saint Paul. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1,000 people in the United States were infected, sending almost 300 to the hospital and possibly contributing to two deaths.
“Irradiating produce reaches bacteria inside the vegetables, not only the organisms that are on the surface,” Moreira says. “It kills bacteria without damaging produce or making the product unsafe to eat.”
Many Americans assume fruits and vegetables sold in supermarkets are safe: wholesome foods that are good for us and won’t make us sick.
This can be a deadly assumption. Food engineering researchers at Texas A&M are perfecting a method to ensure the safety of fresh produce: electron beam, or e-beam, irradiation. Electron beam irradiation kills disease-causing organisms that conventional decontamination methods can’t touch. “Irradiating produce reaches bacteria inside the vegetables, not only the organisms that are on the surface,” says food engineer Rosana Moreira, professor and assistant department head in Texas A&M’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. “It kills bacteria without damaging produce or making the product unsafe to eat.” The CDC says that food irradiation holds great potential for preventing many foodborne diseases in meat, poultry, fresh produce and other foods without harming the nutritional value of food or making it hazardous to human health.
CT scans of food items: 1) raspberries 2) broccoli florets 3) an egg 4) a whole chicken These 2-D images are used to calculate the smallest dose of irradiation needed.
Moreira and Elena Castell-Perez, also a food engineer and professor in biological and agricultural engineering, are working with a team of 11 graduate student researchers to calculate the best methods of using electron beam irradiation to eliminate dangerous bacteria and maintain the nutritional content of fresh produce. Electron beams are streams of high-energy electrons produced by an electron gun. The gun generates the beams by using something found in every home, a larger version of the tube that shoots electrons into your TV screen. The beams are not radioactive, and they can be turned on and off like your TV or a flashlight. This process is conducted using linear accelerators (LINAC), a 10MeV linac located at the National Center for Electron Beam Research and a 1.25 MeV accelerator located in the Hobgood Building.
A burst of energy
Biological & Agricultural Engineering Professor 979.847.8794 email@example.com
Applying ionizing radiation to food is nothing new; in fact, the technology was introduced more than 100 years ago. Food processors in 50 countries rely upon irradiation to make their food safer, but it’s fallen out of favor in the United States — believed largely the result of consumer fear and lack of understanding of “radiation” and its diverse applications. Radiation is radiation, but irradiation used on foods is simply a burst of energy that isn’t dangerous to consumers. “The idea of eating food that has been irradiated concerns some consumers,” Moreira says.
“But irradiated food is completely safe, and in some ways may be better than food that has not been irradiated.”
Chemical vs. e-beam
Almost all fresh fruits and vegetables sold commercially in the U.S. are treated with chemicals before reaching grocery stores. Although beneficial for eliminating many contaminants, some of the chemicals used have been found to leave residues that can become harmful once in the consumer’s hands — for instance, when cooking fruits and vegetables at high temperatures, common in the home canning process. And chemical cleaning reaches only bacteria on the surface of the produce, and it may not even eliminate all of that. Carmen Gomes, a food engineering Ph.D. student who works with Moreira and Castell-Perez, says food irradiation has several advantages over chemical decontamination methods. “When we treat with chemicals, we just treat the surface of the produce,” Gomes says. “Irradiation penetrates the product and helps decontaminate it from harmful bacteria that may have found its way inside lettuce, for instance.” Irradiation also eliminates problems associated with other food safety treatments such as nutrient degradation or changing the produce’s color, texture and flavor. Moreira and Castell-Perez are now working to determine precisely how much irradiation is enough.
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“Quality is very important,” Castell-Perez says. “We want to maintain everything there — vitamins, color, shelf life — but get rid of things like Salmonella.” To accomplish the task, the researchers are taking existing technologies and developing innovative applications specific to food safety. For instance, the Texas A&M researchers are using CT (computed tomography) scans to map produce, and this puts them at the forefront of imaging and computing to calculate the dosimetry, the absorbed dose of ionizing radiation, for certain fruits and vegetables.
“When we treat with chemicals, we just treat the surface of the produce,” Gomes says. “Irradiation penetrates the product and helps decontaminate it from harmful bacteria that may have found its way inside lettuce, for instance.” Using computer simulation, they can cut a cantaloupe, for example, into thousands of layers to create a model that enables the researchers to calculate the smallest dose of radiation needed to reach every part of the product. No fruit or vegetable is exactly alike, so mapping out a standardized dose is a sizable challenge, says Moreira. “First, as engineers, we need to understand how to make the energy distribution uniform,” Moreira says. “Once you understand the uniformity, which is a big issue, we need to know how much energy to put in the fruit or vegetable to make sure there is no degradation of quality.” Moreira and Castell-Perez say that irradiation may actually improve the quality of food. Their research has shown that irradiation can slow down ripening and spoilage to extend shelf life. Irradiation also destroys insects and parasites.
GOODBYE, “SELL BY” New and improved packaging for fresher, safer produce
To most, the plastic wrapped around the fresh produce found in grocery stores provides a simple, basic barrier between your food and anything it might come in contact with before being opened. But suppose that plastic sheet did more than merely keep food in and contaminants out. Rosana Moreira and Elena Castell-Perez are studying and improving the sheet plastic that wraps much of the fresh produce we find in supermarkets by adding a combination of techniques to enable the plastic wrap to fight off unwanted germs. The researchers, along with graduate student Carmen Gomes, are working to make food packaging materials more effective by approaching the issue from a wide range of applications.
Irradiating today for safer food tomorrow
Texas A&M is a leader in food safety engineering research, and Moreira, CastellPerez and colleagues use engineering principles in combination with radiation physics and biology, food science, packaging materials, and computer methods to optimize intervention technologies such as irradiation to ensure safety of fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables.
“The maximum dose currently allowed is 1 kiloGray [a measure of radiation exposure], and our research shows that this is not enough to kill pathogens,” Castell-Perez says. “More is necessary to be effective while still being safe for consumption.”
Such a comprehensive approach to enhancing plastic packaging for food safety has not been done in quite this way before, where an emphasis on irradiation combined with several other technologies is producing a new generation of protective packaging.
They are also exploring how irradiation can actually increase nutritional value of fruits that are high in antioxidants, such as blueberries. So, what does the future of food irradiation in the U.S. look like? Advances are less likely to be held up by technology; policy and public perception may be the more complex issue. Moreira says the first obstacle is revamping the current Food and Drug Administration regulations.
Moreira and Castell-Perez have demonstrated that irradiation can be a safe and effective way to treat the food we consume every day. If it were up to CastellPerez, irradiation would be the only option for treating food in the future. “Irradiation does not excuse dirty or mishandled produce,” Castell-Perez says. “But it is a preventive step and we are working hard at collecting scientific data that proves this point.” O
“The idea to improve effectiveness of packaging came to us when we first irradiated a bag of spinach,” Castell-Perez says. “The applied dose was too much for a food sensitive to radiation and though the process eliminated the pathogens, it also destroyed the food.”
The Texas A&M researchers are investigating new methods of keeping bagged produce fresher longer, including embedding natural enzymes and extracts in the plastic wrap as well as combining with gases or a low dose of irradiation inside the bag.
This sparked the inspiration to focus on improving the packaging so that it protects food and preserves quality. “The next thing was to explore ways to reduce the required dose so that the product integrity is maintained,” Castell-Perez says. “So we thought, can the package be ‘active’ and help maintain the quality as well as the safety of the spinach?” They are looking for the package to be active in protecting food as well as fighting off unwanted bacteria and other microbes.
Spicing up food freshness
To do this, researchers apply natural enzymes and natural extracts, such as cinnamon, garlic, clove, thyme and rosemary, into plastic films used for food packaging. These spices have shown to be powerful antimicrobial substances, Gomes says. A major challenge is making sure the spice used for protection does just that, without leaving anything behind — like its flavor. While garlic may enhance the bacteria-fighting ability of the plastic packaging, the distinctive flavor would not be a good addition to berries, for instance. These extracts are embedded into a basic FDAapproved plastic film coating and then the extracts are mixed with a natural polymer.
Biological & Agricultural Engineering Professor 979.862.7645 firstname.lastname@example.org
“We use microencapsulation,” Gomes says. “We coat our compound with another substance, making a capsule, and when it’s in contact with the food, the compound migrates to the food.” This effect must be carefully designed so that the exact amount of the extract at the desired rate is released into the food.
In addition to experiments with natural extracts, the researchers are evaluating the feasibility of using the plastic film in combination with certain gases such as air, 100 percent oxygen, combinations of nitrogen and oxygen, and ozone.
Irradiating for safety
When a bag of spinach is irradiated, the air inside the bag is also exposed to ionizing radiation. This creates active radicals, meaning they are ready to react with another compound, such as ozone, hydroxide ions and even carbon dioxide. Reactions between these compounds are harmless to the consumer, but they destroy unwanted bacteria. Moreira and Castell-Perez are taking a new approach in the field of packaging. Combining the antimicrobial packaging with atmospheres, an application of modified atmosphere packaging, could increase the radiation sensitivity of the pathogen in question, thus requiring a smaller dose while ensuring wholesome, safe and longlasting spinach. “When you talk about using those gases in combination with irradiation, then there is a synergistic effect so that the irradiation converts that gas into some compounds that will be antimicrobial,” Moreira says. The Texas A&M researchers are working toward a common goal: improving packaging safety. As they work through these challenges, they’re also building synergy that has fueled innovation for attacking the challenge from all directions. Among them: applications including extracts, different types of atmospheres, and irradiation treatments that are leading to new discoveries in the packaging world. O
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Personalized prescriptions to treat disease
by Tim Schnettler
A novel approach combining genomics and computation is helping Texas A&M engineers make crucial inroads for transforming medicines of the future. Miracle drugs of the future will cure disease in ways vastly different from today’s medications. Instead of prescribing medications that are population-based in design, “systems medicine” will enable formulation designed to uniquely address individual needs. A relatively new field, systems medicine is gaining strength at Texas A&M, where advances are being made by a pioneer in the field, Edward R. Dougherty, the Robert M. Kennedy ’26 Chair. According to Dougherty, Texas A&M has the largest concentration of electrical engineers at any American institution conducting research in this area.
Laying the groundwork for personalized medicine
Researchers in Texas A&M’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering are exploring how to use the communication system our genes use to control what happens in our bodies to block the spread of disease. The result could be a new kind of medicine: a personalized, “systems” medicine. “Diseases are different in each person,” Dougherty says. “The drug you take will be targeted to your specific case. Specificity means a higher success rate [in treating the disease].” To reach this level, Dougherty is conducting research with key applications of computation and genomics at the Genomic Signal Processing Laboratory. Dougherty, the director of the lab, is conducting the research along with Aniruddha Datta, the associate director of the lab, and several other faculty.
Dougherty, who is also co-director of the Computational Biology Division of the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix, has been using computers to model the communication system of the human genome to understand how failures in that system cause genetic diseases like cancer.
“Diseases are different in each person,” Dougherty says. “The drug you take will be targeted to your specific case. Specificity means a higher success rate.” “A typical thing is that there is DNA damage and the cell should self-destruct, but it doesn’t,” Dougherty says. “The signal to self-destruct is either not sent or [it is] received and the signaling breaks down.” Dougherty aims to be able to identify the differences between how the same disease affects specific people by learning to understand how the genes that control the actions of cells elsewhere in the body communicate with those cells. It’s not an easy problem. Using high-powered computer analysis, Dougherty and his colleagues at the Translational Genomics Research Institute measure the information that moves from DNA to RNA to proteins. Proteins can help cells carry out their function or can be gene-regulating signals. By measuring the amount of RNA, the team can observe the signals and relate them to what happens in the cells. “Most diseases do not result from a single gene product,” Dougherty says. “It is usually very complex and there are usually numerous genes involved in the disease.”
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Working to control diseased cells
Dougherty’s efforts in genomics — the study of genes as they act in combination — aim to identify what changes or malfunctions in cells are responsible for causing disease, with the eventual goal of being able to control the diseased cell and prevent the disease from spreading further. “If you can do it, the idea is to try and control diseased cells,” he says. “For instance, if you have a tumor and it has not metastasized, can we go in there and augment the signaling somehow so that it won’t metastasize and you can live with that tumor? Is that possible?” Dougherty is seeking answers for an individual’s specific case when it comes to disease, which would allow a doctor to prescribe medicine geared to an individual’s specific form of disease. This, in turn, could lead to better success in treating it. “The idea is that we will get personalized medicine. Everyone’s cancer is different, and we are trying to get at the molecular changes that are going on and control those molecular changes,” he says. “We can’t fully control the cells, but we can at least make those cells stay away from things that are going to kill you, or regulate them into cell death. We want to reduce the probability of being in a castastrophic state or a state that leads to the next level of trouble.” Dougherty’s main goal is that drugs used to treat these diseases be able to move from being population-based to individual-based, meaning that the drugs patients are given will be uniquely formulated to them, or a much smaller percentage of the population, ideally providing a higher sucess rate.
New technology and the challenges ahead This idea would revolutionize the way doctors approach the treatment of disease, but it will be costly and will require the development of new technology.
“It will take huge investments from pharmaceutical companies, and they will develop the technique,” he says. “The techniques we have now are better than the ones we had 10 years ago, but they are not ready for the general population. The pharmaceutical companies will come in and take the methods and develop ways to deliver the drug, ways of dispensing it.” Systems medicine is an idea that is still in its infancy and has a long way to go before it is fully developed to the point at which the mathematical methods of engineering will be used to determine treatment regimens for individual patients.
Acceptance of such a radically different approach to medical treatments doesn’t happen overnight. Dougherty, however, isn’t defeated by the unlikelihood of a quick fix. “People ask me when we will see this in clinics,” Dougherty says. “I may not see it, but my children might. You have enormous numbers of problems getting data from humans. Getting data from a human is an entirely different project from getting data from a cell in a dish.”
“Everyone’s cancer is different, and we are trying to get at the molecular changes that are going on and control those molecular changes,” Dougherty says. “We can’t fully control the cells, but we can at least make those cells stay away from things that are going to kill you.” Dougherty also adds that if systems medicine is to become a reality, challenges — particularly those presented by the human element — will have to be overcome. “You have to move medicine from a collection of methods to a mathematically based engineering discipline,” he says. “You also have the challenge of educating a new generation of medical engineers and breaking down institutional barriers.” Texas A&M is already making strides in one area: educating a new generation of medical engineers in the field of genomics. Currently there are five electrical engineers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute who earned their doctorates at Texas A&M. “I think we understand the engineering problem and I think there is a very good fix on the engineering problem,” Dougherty says. “I think it is now a question of, can we actually do it? I think we are to that point.” O
Edward R. Dougherty Electrical & Computer Engineering Professor, Robert M. Kennedy ’26 Chair 979.862.8154 email@example.com
Good Medicine REMEDIES FOR RURAL HEALTH CARE
By Lesley Kriewald
The same engineering methods developed to improve manufacturing processes may be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to improving health care for rural Americans. Almost 50 million Americans live in rural communities — those with fewer than 50,000 residents being “rural” as defined by the American Medical Association — or roughly 20 percent of the nation’s population. Yet only 10 percent of the nation’s physicians practice in rural areas. Too few doctors for too many remote locations has created a significant gap in both the access and quality of health care. Texas A&M industrial engineer Amarnath “Andy” Banerjee is an expert in automation and is applying that expertise to help provide better medical care — in the form of better doctors and more efficient acquisition and sharing of patient information.
Improving how physicians improve
For physicians, review by peers is a standard and integral part of professional development. In urban areas, peer-review groups are easily formed, often within an organization. The doctor under review provides the peer group with a full review of a recent patient’s care. The peer group examines the 36
case thoroughly, including the patient’s medical history, symptoms and outcome, to determine whether the course of treatment prescribed or performed was the proper course or if something different should have been done. But rural hospitals and clinics may employ only a handful of physicians and must coordinate a team of physicians from outside the rural area to conduct the review. It’s a very paper-intensive process with a long sequence of events. Everything in a patient’s case must be scanned into a computer and the patient’s identity removed from the files for the double-blind review that federal health privacy law requires. Then the physical review panels have to be formed to review each file and give recommendations. Finally, all files must be sent back to the originating hospitals. Peer review conducted from a distance is time-consuming and vulnerable to complications throughout the many steps in the process. engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
In Texas, the Rural Community Health Institute (RCHI), part of The Texas A&M University System’s Health Science Center, helps rural doctors and hospitals coordinate these long-distance peer reviews, providing an ideal source for Banerjee and his research team to study. “Our job is to identify bottlenecks in the process and to then decide where and when to allocate additional resources to alleviate these bottlenecks,” Banerjee says.
Banerjee and graduate student Hyunsoo Lee first created a simulation model, much like those they have created for industrial applications, like a factory’s assembly line, to show how the process works from start to finish. The simulation shows which processes are redundant and identifies the “value added” processes. And once the information bottlenecks are identified, the researchers can turn to the next phase: partially automating the process. Banerjee says the emphasis was on identifying some of the manual, repetitive and time-consuming operations. One such operation is the blinding process, where student workers at RCHI have to scan the paper copies; manually identify and remove any patient and physician identifications; and then add other information required during the peerreview process. This process goes through several print–scan cycles to truly remove all the identifiers. The proposed change incorporates a one-step scan process and software tools to perform the task, thus saving time and paper. By streamlining the process, Banerjee has reduced the number of steps by almost half, meaning rural doctors will receive important professional feedback more quickly, which in turn helps to improve the quality of care these doctors provide to the residents they serve.
In another project, Banerjee is working to determine how best to introduce information technology solutions for rural health care providers to make patient information more readily available to doctors and health professionals in various facilities, including hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, assisted living facilities and home health care agencies. Working again with RCHI, Banerjee was part of a $1.7 million project funded by the National Institutes of Health/Health Resources and Services Administration — one of only 17 grants in the United States in the area of automating health care processes for rural communities. “Each of these places has patient records on file, most likely in a computer,” Banerjee says. “But the
information isn’t accessible to staff professionals at other facilities unless the files are specifically requested and approved to be shared. So if a patient visits the doctor and then the pharmacy, then maybe a hospital after there’s no improvement in the patient’s condition, how can these patient records be shared quickly and efficiently? What’s the best way to get this information to travel from the doctor’s office to the lab or the pharmacy?” Again applying his industrial engineering perspective, Banerjee has modeled the flow of patients through these facilities, studying the pre- and postvisit phases of information technology to see what improvements information technology can bring to bear on the process.
“Our job is to identify bottlenecks in the process and to then decide where and when to allocate additional resources to alleviate these bottlenecks.” The main benefit of automating routine office tasks such as information exchange and setting up appointments is to free up and reallocate more time and resources for other tasks. To that end, Banerjee has developed a prototype tool to identify utilization of, for instance, a doctor or nurse’s time before and after a patient visit. This tool can help researchers determine whether information technology has made a difference. Also, on-site visits have helped Banerjee understand the flow of patients and information through facilities. “When we visit, we can ask specific questions from various perspectives — say, as a doctor or patient or nurse. We could also see how things operate in different facilities and gather statistics, such as the annual number of patients treated.” What he found was that existing systems for information exchange may work for large organizations, but the systems have too many bells and whistles that aren’t applicable in small hospitals. “What we need is a simple solution to exchange information between facilities,” he says. The goal of examining these processes with modeling and simulation is of course to increase efficiency, productivity and cost-effectiveness, all of which results in better healthcare for rural residents and beyond. O
Industrial & Systems Engineering Associate Professor 979.845.5110 firstname.lastname@example.org
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A Texas A&M civil engineer has given Texas a head start in dealing with water management problems found all over the world. Most of the time, when you turn on the tap, water comes out. You probably don’t think about what just happened, but Texas A&M civil engineer Ralph Wurbs does. In fact, he’s been thinking about it for 20 years. In Texas, for instance, the water that splashes from the tap into the drinking glass gets there through a complicated system of permits that governs how much water river authorities, irrigation districts, municipal water districts, cities, private companies and sometimes individual residents can draw from the state’s rivers, streams and reservoirs. The complex permit system works for Texas, whose population is expected to reach more than 45 million residents by 2060, because of a novel computer model Wurbs and his colleagues started working on more than 20 years ago.
Modeling water allocation
On the high-technology end is a computer model known as the Water Rights Analysis Package, or WRAP. WRAP is a major component in a larger water modeling system used by the Texas Council on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to analyze and allocate water-use permits in the state. TCEQ has been using the system to regulate water use since 2002. The TCEQ water regulation system draws on the WRAP model developed by Wurbs, a professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, and several generations of his graduate students. The WRAP model — and through it, the TCEQ system — includes massive databases of information about each of the state’s 15 river basins and eight smaller “coastal” basins, more than 15 major rivers, 190,000 miles of rivers and streams, and almost 6,000 reservoirs totaling 3 million acres. The model is able to combine detailed information about all of these items to determine how much water each of the nearly 8,000 wateruse permit holders will be able to draw from Texas surface water.
History and hydrology
The WRAP model includes historical hydrology data — how much water would have flowed without modern intervention — generally from 1940 to the present. It also includes data on reservoirs, pump stations, pipelines and other infrastructure, as well as water-use practices. Using this information, the model allocates water to the almost 8,000 providers and users and determines how reliable the water sources will be in meeting the demand. It also uses the seven decades of historical data to adjust its calculations to account for permitted use and natural water flows.
“The WRAP system and TCEQ work well to allocate water in Texas. This approach gives Texas a head start in water management that other states may find themselves able to follow as water demand increases with growing population.” “This is a little unusual because the regulatory agency that issues the permits uses the WRAP system to evaluate permit applications submitted by propspective water users. Both the application and the agency’s evaluation of it are based on the same factors,” Wurbs says. The WRAP system and TCEQ work well to allocate water in Texas, Wurbs says. This approach gives Texas a head start in water management that other states may find themselves able to follow as water demand increases with growing population. “In most other places, more than one agency is involved in the process and no single system is mandated,” Wurbs says. “This works better.”O
Ralph A. Wurbs
Civil Engineering Professor 979.845.3079 email@example.com
by Gene Charleton
Texas A&M nuclear engineers are shedding new light on how low doses of radiation affect living cells, which is essential to understanding the rare cancers caused by this radiation that bombards us every day.
engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
We live with radiation every day, and we don’t think about it much. We don’t know much about how it affects us, either. Nuclear engineers know a lot about the radiation inside nuclear reactors or emitted when a nuclear weapon explodes, but they know far less about the effect of low-dose radiation, the kind emitted all around us every day, says physicist Leslie Braby, a research professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering. Almost all the radiation Braby and Gregory Nelson, a professor of radiation biology at Loma Linda University in California, are interested in comes from cosmic rays, radioactive gas in rocks and soil, nuclear power plants, and cinders and stack gas from coal-fired power plants — not from bombs or reactors. None of it adds significantly to our risk of cancer. On average, each of us is exposed to 360 millirems (a measure of radiation exposure) a year. Sometimes we’re exposed to much more than that, from medical X-rays and similar sources. International standards allow up to 5,000 millirems a year for people who work with and around radioactive material. “At high doses, radiation increases the risk of cancer,” Braby says. “But if the dose isn’t high enough to significantly increase your risk of cancer, it’s not clear what it does.” The researchers are using Texas A&M’s microbeam linear accelerator, one of the first in the world, to study what happens when a single particle of radiation hits a single cell. What they’re finding is changing how we think about low-dose radiation damage. “Radiation never directly kills a cell — bacterial, human, any kind of cell,” Braby says. “What it does is prevent the cell from growing and dividing. “What we need to find out is why in some cases the radiation doesn’t kill the cell, doesn’t prevent it from dividing, but causes it to behave differently after it has divided and in that way occasionally start a tumor, which can become cancerous. Braby and Nelson are attacking the problem of understanding how radiation affects cells as simply as possible. They’re using the microbeam accelerator’s ability to focus the beam of particles it produces until it’s finer than the point of a pin to isolate radiation’s effect on a single cell at a time. Their experiments zap individual cells in the simplest animal
they can find: an almost-microscopic worm, a nematode, that looks much like a fiber from a thread. It has only a few hundred cells in it, but we know how each one of them would normally develop, Nelson says.
“At high doses, radiation increases the risk of cancer,” Braby says. “But if the dose isn’t high enough to significantly increase your risk of cancer, it’s not clear what it does.” They understand nematodes’ cells pretty well, Braby says, and the type of animal is not especially relevant to the health risks of low doses of radiation. Knowledge of the cells’ normal development allows them to understand better what happens to the cell after it has divided several times after its brush with radiation — how the radiation affects cell growth and how the cells’ genetic makeup changes. “It’s something we didn’t anticipate,” Braby says. “We thought that if the cell survived irradiation, it would have adequately repaired the DNA and gone on happily ever after. “But people have discovered that cells that survive irradiation suddenly start producing extra mutations, both in tissue culture and in animals.” In the early days of using radiation to treat disease, researchers assumed that radiation acted like typical chemical toxins, interrupting specific functions in living cells. Many years of study have shown that the action of radiation is much more complicated and affects many cell functions. Combining information about cells’ radiation exposure with microbeam studies of how cells respond when neighboring cells are hit by low doses of radiation is helping researchers understand how tissue growth is regulated and what happens when that regulation breaks down.
Leslie A. Braby Nuclear Engineering Research Professor 979.862.1798 firstname.lastname@example.org
“This sounds like a technical problem, but answering it should give us information we need to understand our relationship to the world around us,” Braby says. O 41
by Gene Charleton
Perfecting polymers for joint replacements that last
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Every year, surgeons replace some 35,000 hips damaged by disease or illness. Many — perhaps most — of these new joints will have to be replaced after several years because of wear on their polymer parts. Texas A&M engineers are exploring new polymers to help these replacement joints last a lifetime. The mechanics of artificial hips
Hip joints are intricately crafted assemblies, often fabricated from titanium; a cobalt–chrome– molybdenum alloy; and ultra-high-molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) polymer, a dense plastic. The most common design of artificial hip joints is a three-piece assembly consisting of an L-shaped titanium stem that attaches the joint to the femur, or thighbone, a cobalt–chrome–molybdenum ball and a UHMWPE polymer cup. The stem is inserted into a hole drilled into the end of the femur. The ball fits onto the short arm of the L and fits into the cup, which is anchored to the pelvis. Together, the metal and polymer form a ball-and-socket joint to duplicate the structure — and much of the function — of a natural hip. Engineers and physicians have been designing artificial hips for a long time, and the current design has been around for at least 60 years. “The basic geometry of the joints surgeons work with today is essentially the same as they used
in the 1950s,” Cris Schwartz says. Schwartz is a mechanical engineer and assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He studies materials, especially polymers. If the shape of replacement hips is fairly refined, the material of the cup that holds the ball in place is still a work in progress. The problem is what happens to the cup as the metal ball moves with the patient’s movements. “When you rub the joint’s polymer cup against the metal ball, you get very low friction and very low wear,” Schwartz says. “The problem is that the friction is not zero. You still have some wear.” As the alloy ball moves inside the polymer cup, it wears away microscopic particles from the surface of the cup. These particles end up near bone and in soft tissues surrounding the joint. They’re tiny contributors to a major malfunction. “The size and shape of these little polyethylene particles kind of confuse your immune system,” Schwartz says.
Artificial hips have a useful life of about 20 years, longer or shorter depending on individual recipients’ physical and physiological condition. Unless an artificial hip is implanted relatively late in life, hip recipients face the likelihood of at least one replacement surgery, or revision. A woman whose arthritic hip is replaced in her 40s might expect two surgeries to enable her to remain active as she gets older.
A teenager who receives a hip to repair a defective or injured hip might expect as many as three revision surgeries.
By the time an artificial hip recipient reaches his 60s, he stands a chance of avoiding revision surgery, depending on how long he lives.
LOW FRICTION NOT ZERO FRICTION
Instead of machining complete polymer cups and mating them with the rest of artificial hip joints to test the effect of friction on polymer, mechanical engineer Cris Schwartz uses capsuleshaped polymer rods that are rubbed against a cobalt– chrome shaft by a smooth steel rod that reproduces movements the cup would be exposed to in a complete artificial hip.
This confusion interferes with the body’s natural cycle of bone modeling — the balance between the activity of cells to deposit new bone and cells that remove old bone. When the polymer particles enter the picture, this cycle gets out of balance: Bone-building cells near the hip slow their activity, while bone-removal cells continue to work at their normal pace. This means that some of the bone that surrounds the long end of the implant stem in the femur is lost, and the hole it rests in becomes enlarged. This allows the stem to slip against the inside of the bone. This movement is painful and makes the joint unstable and increases the risk of eventual fracture.
the risk of becoming unstable owing to bone loss caused by the wear particles. Depending on the patient’s age when the joint was put in place, this may be a significant issue.
Hip replacement has three main goals: eliminate the pain; duplicate the motion of the original hip; and last the rest of the patient’s life.
Schwartz’s research focuses on polymer tribology — the wear and friction qualities of polymers, or plastics — raw material for artificial hips’ polymer cups.
In search of the perfect polymer
Artificial hips are one of the wonders of modern medicine. They offer people with hips severely damaged by diseases like arthritis or traumatic injury the promise of a return to life without debilitating pain. For many — perhaps most — artificial hip recipients, however, it’s not the end of their joint troubles: Relief from their pain has a limited lifespan. On the basis of current data, most recipients will need the artificial hip replaced within 10 to 20 years after the initial surgery because the joint runs 44
This is where Schwartz comes in. “Hip replacement has three main goals: eliminate the pain; duplicate the motion of the original hip; and last the rest of the patient’s life,” Schwartz says. “The replacement hips we use now do very well at eliminating pain and duplicating motion, but we’ve got a way to go with durability.”
Making it last
“I work primarily on hip materials because, to me, they are a more interesting mechanical system than knees and have a number of performance issues that are more dependent on wear than other material properties,” Schwartz says. To people walking around with artificial hips, polymer wear is more than simply an interesting research project. How polymers wear determines how long their metal-and-polymer joint will last before invasive surgery is needed to replace the device. One way to decrease or eliminate this kind of bone loss is to develop a polymer that produces fewer wear particles and thus is less likely to cause bone loss, thereby lengthening the replacement cycle. engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
The testing rig Schwartz uses to evaluate the effect of friction on different polymers looks nothing like a hip joint. Instead of using actual artificial hip joints, Schwartz’s machine simulates the motions that occur as the hip ball moves inside the polymer cup.
“The problem is that there aren’t that many polymers you can put in your body that will be happy there for 15 or 20 years,” Schwartz says.
Polymers and particles
One approach researchers are taking to the problem is to explore ways to modify the UHMWPE polymer to change the size and shape of the friction-produced wear particles. The goal here is to change the particles so they don’t produce the immune system reaction that’s behind the bone-loss imbalance that ultimately leads to implant removal. Using heat or radiation to change the way the complex polymer molecules bond to each other is one way to slow the production of wear particles, but these procedures aren’t perfect.
“Whether it’s through biological approaches like this or a materials approach like what I am taking, the engineer’s passion is to develop the necessary expertise to solve long-standing problems.” In this light, Schwartz and his students are pursuing several areas where total joint devices can be improved, with special attention to the materials being used.
“An analysis of the situation reveals that there are essentially two materials-related issues that can be addressed to get these devices to last longer: Either further reduce the wear of UHMWPE or use another material that will not lead to bone loss,” Schwartz says. Schwartz and other researchers are currently working to develop biocompatible composites that include a separate filler material in the UHMWPE, such as a corrosion-resistant metal that is biocompatible. This work suggests that the researchers may be near a whole new approach to the problem as more researchers take what Schwartz describes as a “more realistic approach” to using composites in the body. Another avenue of development other researchers are exploring is using deeper understanding of biology and biological materials. One result could be to use UHMWPE as a framework to support gel-like materials that are derived from the body itself. The concept is to design wear surfaces where two resilient, fluid-bearing materials rub against each other like natural cartilage. As these materials wear, the body will be able to break them down and dispose of them without the bone loss due to a buildup of UHMWPE particles. “Whether it’s through biological approaches like this or a materials approach like what I am taking, the engineer’s passion is to develop the necessary expertise to solve long-standing problems,” Schwartz says. O
Cris Schwartz Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor 979.845.9591 email@example.com
By Gene Charleton
Engineers at Texas A&M are leaders in understanding water and the most efficient ways for humans to store, move and use it, but they also study drought (what happens when there is no water, or very little) and how to deal with it.
edited 49 others and more than 72 book chapters. Almost 500 refereed articles and more than 250 conference proceedings papers he has written have appeared in 60 academic journals. He understands how water works and what it means.
Vijay Singh is an expert in dealing with uncertain information. He is a pioneer in applying entropy — an information theory concept used to describe and evaluate information — to water engineering problems, including drought planning. Entropy gives engineers tools to get the most value from data they collect and understand which data they need and which they don’t, and which data are most useful.
Water, or the lack of it, is intimately linked with human health. At its most basic, the equation is simple: too little water equals death. But drought affects human life in many ways well short of death. Too little water means crops fail, farm animals die and food becomes expensive or scarce. Too little water can lead to breakdowns in sanitation systems and increased risk of diseases carried by what little water there is. “Everything humans do depends on water,” says Texas A&M water engineer Vijay Singh, holder of the Caroline and William N. Lehrer Distinguished Chair in Water Engineering in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and a professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering. “Without water, we have nothing.” Singh should know. He is a widely respected hydrologist and water engineer who has studied water for four decades. He has written or coauthored more than 15 textbooks in the field and 46
Drought means different things to different people. To hydrologists, researchers who study the movement of water in streams and rivers, drought means reduced water flow over a long period. Meteorologists define drought as sustained low rainfall. To farmers, drought means too little rain when their crops need it. To public health practitioners, drought means too little water for drinking, cooking and sanitation. All these definitions have one thing in common: too little water, when and where we need it.
Foretelling the future
Figuring out when the next drought will come is an uncertain business. Decisions — engineering and other sorts — about water resources often are made without all the information we would like to have. Often they are formed more on the basis of experience, professional judgment, rules of thumb or analyses of the limited information we do have. Forecasting drought is no different. Forecasts are based on what has happened in the past. The fundamental assumption in forecasting is that the past is a mirror of the future. But researchers question whether that mirror of past droughts reflects a clear picture of droughts to come.
engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
Singh says relying on the past to forecast future droughts is less certain than we often think it is, mostly because of unpredictability of changes in factors that may affect drought occurrence. These factors range from population increase and movement of population from one place to another to changes in land use and other anthropogenic changes. Time is another factor that adds to the uncertainty in drought forecasting. “We have only been keeping systematic records of rainfall in the United States for a little over 100 years,” he says. “In terms of climate, that’s not long enough to provide much of a picture.” Despite this uncertainty, drought researchers still try to forecast droughts. Singh points out that even if forecasts are not as reliable as researchers would like them to be, the forecasts still provide
information that wouldn’t be available otherwise. For instance, researchers are getting better at predicting what will happen months in the future. This is enough time for engineers and officials responsible for managing water supplies and making policy involving water use to begin planning for what might happen.
Climate and drought
Drought researchers aren’t ready yet to confidently link droughts with climate change and global warming, but the possibility of a connection is becoming more widely accepted. “From a strictly scientific point of view, whether this is all a result of climate change is very difficult to say,” Singh says. “But there is growing acceptance that climate change has something to do with changes in drought characteristics.” O
Faculty members are expected to teach, conduct research and participate in outreach activities. Vijay Singh is a respected teacher, a prolific researcher — and he is a fervent believer in outreach. One of his outreach activities is a little out of the ordinary. He operates a school. In 1993, Singh founded a school in his home village of Nagla Vishnu, near Agra in northern India, and has funded its operations since. The coeducational school serves about 850 students in grades 1 through 12 from Nagla Vishnu and the nearby area. Students pay “nominal” tuition and receive good educations: About 86 percent of 10th grade students passed state-mandated standardized examinations this year, and about 96 percent of 12th graders.
Biological & Agricultural Engineering Civil Engineering Professor, Caroline and William N. Lehrer Distinguished Chair 979.845.7028 firstname.lastname@example.org
engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
Improving water quality with high-tech tools may be effective, but many people, especially in developing areas, can’t afford them. Two Texas A&M researchers are achieving results for global impact by using ingredients found worldwide … in soil. Many engineers apply high technology to waterquality issues. Texas A&M civil engineer Bryan Boulanger approaches the subject from nearly the opposite direction. Boulanger, an assistant professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, and B. Steven Carpenter, a skilled potter and an associate professor in Texas A&M’s Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture, are using a modern variation on one of the oldest technologies — pottery — to help people clean up their own water. Boulanger and Carpenter are affiliated with Potters for Peace, an international organization of potters with the aim of using pottery to provide access to clean water for people in impoverished areas around the world. While Potters for Peace focuses on the international need for clean water, the Texas A&M researchers are concentrating their efforts on colonias, unincorporated entities on American and Mexican banks of the Rio Grande. The settlements seldom have municipal services: no electric grid, no trash pickup, no water system and no clean water. Boulanger and Carpenter’s premise is promising: design effective, accessible and affordable individual water filters by using earthen pottery, with an engineered twist of using the pottery to filter pollutants from the water, not just carry it. “The pottery skills needed to make these filters are found in essentially every culture in the world,” says Boulanger, who specializes in the study of water treatment systems. The impact of polluted water on health is especially important in developing countries — places like colonias — without centralized water treatment systems. Around the world, almost 4,000 children die every day because of dirty water or poor hygiene due to lack of clean water. Altogether, almost 2 million people — roughly equivalent to the population of Houston — die every year from diarrheal disease.
clay becomes filter material when it is mixed with sawdust, molded in a homebuilt press and fired in a kiln. The sawdust — or rice hulls or other organic material — burns away as the filter is fired and leaves behind a spongelike structure that allows water to pass through, leaving bacteria behind. The filters produce about a liter an hour of filtered water and will last about a year. Both the pottery press and kiln can be built inexpensively by whoever needs them. As the researchers refine the design and construction of the filters, they’re also exploring ways to make them more effective. Coating the inside of the filters with colloidal silver is one approach they’re looking at. A colloidal silver coating increases the number of bacteria removed from about 98 percent (considered safe for human consumption) to 100 percent but increases the cost substantially. The researchers are exploring colloidal silver in an effort to make the water as safe as possible for human consumption.
Civil Engineering Assistant Professor 979.845.9782 email@example.com
They also are experimenting with filters built from containers like plastic water or soft drink bottles that pass water through multilayer filters assembled with clay and materials such as powdered charcoal. Boulanger and Carpenter’s work is not solely to provide filters for people in places where they’re needed: One of their goals is to teach the technology to people in poverty-stricken areas so residents can make the filters themselves. It’s an important point because the pottery filters, while effective, are difficult and expensive to transport. “Clay and working with clay in kilns is a familiar skill in every culture in the world except for the Pacific islands, where the soil is mostly volcanic,” Boulanger says. “But everywhere else, this knowledge exists, so the localized knowledge to help themselves with this serious problem is already there.” O
B. Steven Carpenter II Teaching, Learning & Culture, College of Education & Human Development Associate Professor 979.458.3339 firstname.lastname@example.org
Boulanger and Carpenter make their filters from the same clay potters use to mold flowerpots. The 49
by Lesley Kriewald
Tiny aircraft that can change the shape of their wings in midflight. Sounds like science fiction, but it may be the future of gathering intelligence. And Texas A&M is on the leading edge of the technology.
John Valasek and Suman Chakravorty have built and tested this scaled-up model of a morphing wing in the aerospace engineering departmentâ€™s wind tunnels. The Texas A&M researchers are investigating 11 different shape-changing variables in their microaircraft.
engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
This conceptualized illustration shows a morphing aircraft that is capable of changing its shape at will like a bird.
Unmanned aircraft that can morph themselves into new shapes in midf light sounds like fantasy, but Texas A&M aerospace engineers are working to translate science fiction into reality.
MAV is ordered to hover outside the window. Then the plane is ordered to enter the building through an open window. Inside the building, the miniplane must turn corners and then is directed to speed away to avoid detection.
Associate Professor John Valasek and Assistant Professor Suman Chakravorty, both faculty mem- Each command is considered a separate “mission,” bers in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, and each of these missions requires the plane to have are researching morphing as one small part of a $15 a different wing configuration. So these miniaircraft million, three-year program to develop new technol- must be adaptable, able to change shape as missions ogies for intelligent micro-air vehicles (MAVs) that change. When Mission Control sends new orders, have the ability to change shape while they fly. Their the plane must decide which shape best suits the miswork places them at the forefront in MAV control, sion and then make that change while still flying. that is, progra mming miniature airplanes to fly “MAVs typically weigh less than 20 grams and have a like a bird without falling 15-centimeter wing span or less,” Valasek says. “You from the sky. “MAVs typically weigh can hold them in your hand. But our work is applicable less than 20 grams and to any size of unmanned air vehicle.” have a 15 - c ent i meter wing span or less,” Valasek says. “You can hold them By changing shape, the vehicles can work on a variin your hand. But our work is applicable to any size ety of missions. Historically, the preceeding scenario would have required many different air vehicles, or a of unmanned air vehicle.” single plane capable of only performing a few limited The project is titled “Machine Learning Control of applications. But by being able to change shapes and Morphing Micro Air Vehicles” and is funded by the missions on the fly, MAVs will reach an entirely new Air Force Office of Scientific Research, although level: becoming true multimission, single aircraft other defense agencies are investigating new capabil- capable of performing many different missions. ities of micro-air vehicles for spying outside or flying through windows, finding and tracking insurgents, “Historically, aircraft have been optimized for a and search and reconnaissance inside buildings and maximum of perhaps two flight characteristics — say, high-speed flight, maneuverability, or for range. confined spaces. But if the aircraft can change shape to optimize itself Here’s a scenario: A human controller sends an MAV for several missions, then you have a ‘one size fits all’ on a mission to fly around a building, taking images plane capable of performing a wide variety of misand transmitting them back. Through a window, sions. You don’t need to have a whole fleet of differthe controller can see a meeting taking place, so the ent types of planes, just the one morphing plane.” 51
Borrowing from nature’s design
Inspired by the flight and movements of birds, the new MAV aircraft will use sophisticated engineered materials, as well as sensing, control and actuation systems. “The end goal is an aircraft that is capable of changing its shape at will like a bird, which is the biologically inspired system we are pursuing,” Valasek says. “Because a bird can change its shape depending on whether it is soaring and gliding or turning, taking off or landing, it does many things well. Therefore, instead of having four different airplanes with different configurations to do four different things, we could then have one airplane that can morph and do four different things well.” To achieve such a signif ic a nt technologic a l advance, the researchers first revisited the earliest aircraft model. T he or i g i n a l pl a ne designed by the Wright brothers had a very limited morphing abi l it y, u si ng w i ng warping for control, Valasek says.
But the technology isn’t readily accessible yet. What’s missing: complex algorithms required for this level of versatility. So the researchers are keenly focused on developing the mathematical algorithms that activate and control the technology. The researchers are using model reference adaptive control, a traditional control technique in which the system will reconfigure itself on the basis of changing conditions in its environment, operating system, inertia, damage or faults. And to determine which configuration is best suited to these changes, Valasek and Chakravorty are investigating techniques from machine learning — used for programming computers that can “think” on their own (for instance, to solve puzzles and play chess).
“The end goal is an aircraft that is capable of changing its shape at will like a bird, which is the biologically inspired system we are pursuing,” Valasek says. “Because a bird can change its shape depending on whether it is soaring and gliding or turning, taking off or landing, it does many things well.”
“In the early days of manned f light, scientists unsuccessf u lly tried to mimic exactly how birds fly. So instead they developed airplanes that they could make fly, but are not like birds at all. We’ve now come full circle after 100 years because the technology is on the horizon for practical air 52
vehicles which do most of the things that birds do. Flight pioneers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had the right idea, but it was too advanced for their time. They just lacked the technology.”
But the challenging problem to solve, the researchers say, is the “curse of dimensionality,” in which the complexity of the solution grows exponentially as the dimensionality of the problem grows. engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
These figures show three different aircraft configurations that are optimal for one specific mission or flight condition. At the far left is a straight tapered-wing configuration, which is optimal for range, endurance and low-speed flight. Center is a swept-wing configuration, which is optimal for high-speed cruise flight. And on the far right is a delta-wing configuration, which is optimal for both supersonic flight and a high rate of climb. This third configuration also has dihedral, which directly affects rolling stability.
“For example,” Chakravorty says, “to solve a onedimensional problem, you might need a page of a book. For a two-dimensional problem, the whole of the Sterling C. Evans Library on campus. And for a three-dimensional problem, you need all the resources in all the libraries in the greater Texas area.”
Valasek says there can be multiple levels of hierarchy with a kind of “handshake” between levels. And techniques to facilitate this handshake — getting the low and high levels to recognize and effectively interact with each other as well as share information — is one of the major research issues being addressed.
Morphing vehicles have high dimensionality because of the many geometry changes or morphing degrees of freedom available.
To infinity and beyond
“Wing sweep angle, chord length, taper ratio, thickness, dihedral angle, camber, and more can be used to change the geometry and flight characteristics of the vehicle as the mission and objectives change,” Valasek says. “We are currently using 11 independent degrees of freedom while most other researchers are only looking at two or three at a time.” “It’s the worst of both worlds,” Valasek says. “It’s a very big problem with very limited resources with which to solve the problem. The computational and hardware levels of technology needed for a feasible morphing MAV grow exponentially, and quickly become unavailable using current capabilities.” The solution, then, Valasek says, is distributed and hierarchical — putting required tasks in a specific chain of command depending on their complexity. Lower-level or basic tasks such as maintaining flight stability are handled with the traditional control technique of model reference adaptive control. For higher-level tasks, such as changing mission objectives, reinforcement learning is used to learn from experience and interactions with its environment which shape the airplane should change into.
It’s been seven years since the project began under the umbrella of the Texas Institute for Intelligent Bio-Nano Materials and Structures for Aerospace Vehicles (TiiMS), a partnership among NASA, Texas A&M and several other Texas universities.
Suman Chakravorty Aerospace Engineering Assistant Professor 979.458.0064 email@example.com
A f lying prototype is coming soon. A research team in Texas A&M’s Department of Aerospace Engineering is building a morphing air vehicle for flight testing this year so that Valasek and Chakravorty can validate the learning and control algorithms they’ve developed. And Valasek says that while the idea of vehicles morphing midmission to meet the demands of a changing mission may sound too good to be true, this is one dream he believes will happen. “The idea of a practical morphing aerospace vehicle will be realized within my working lifetime. It is not a century or even 50 years away from today; we will all get to see a morphing air vehicle fly. It will be challenging, but I am confident it will be met.” O
Aerospace Engineering Associate Professor 979.845.1685 firstname.lastname@example.org
THESE TURBULENT TIMES
TEXAS A&M TO RECEIVE $10 MILLION FOR NATIONAL HYPERSONIC CENTER by Marissa Doshi
Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica aside, in the real world, space remains the final frontier. Realizing the potential of hypersonic flight, NASA and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research have come together for the first time to sponsor research, designating Texas A&M the National Center for Hypersonic Laminar-Turbulent Transition, one of only three national hypersonic science centers. The two other hypersonic centers are at the University of Virginia and Teledyne Scientific & Imaging LLC. Each center will receive $2 million per year and as much as $10 million if all renewal options are exercised. These centers will advance research in air-breathing propulsion, materials and structures, and boundary-layer control for vehicles that travel at hypersonic speeds (Mach 5, which is five times the speed of sound) and faster. The Texas A&M hypersonic center will focus on understanding and learning how to control the changes in airflow at the boundary layer, which is the layer of fluid near the bounding surface. On an aircraft wing, for instance, the boundary layer is the part of the flow near the wing. Heading the center is William Saric, who was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering
in 2006 for his pioneering contributions to the fundamental understanding and control of shear flow and boundary-layer transition, and currently directs the flight research laboratory at Texas A&M. Saric says that at hypersonic speeds, the airflow in the boundary layer changes from laminar (streamlined) to turbulent, leading to an increase in friction and heat load as much as 1,000 percent. If these effects are not controlled using thermal-protective coatings, spacecraft and crewed capsules re-entering the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds would burn up. â€œA great penalty is paid for thermal-protection systems (TPS). Because of these systems, our hypersonic vehicles have to take on a conservative design, and the penalty is increased weight and cost,â€? says Saric, Distinguished Professor and the Stewart & Stevenson Services Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering. The Texas A&M team is trying to understand how laminar flow can be maintained at the boundary layer to circumvent the need for costly TPS and reduce the weight of spacecraft.
engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
“Right now, where the transition from laminar flow to turbulent flow occurs is generally unknown. But if we can understand this, then there is the possibility of having a more efficient system.” “Entering with just laminar flow by delaying transition to turbulent flow offers prospects of lower heating, reduced weight and increased safety for crewed hypersonic vehicles,” Saric says. “This also impacts vehicle performance in terms of system drag, propulsion efficiency and stability.” The Texas A&M team is adopting a three-pronged approach for this project: The researchers will develop theories of boundary layer physics, apply those theories to computational models, and validate the theories and models with experiments.
Quiet Tunnel, a hypersonic shock tunnel and the Actively Controlled Expansion hypersonic wind tunnel — all located at Texas A&M’s National Aerothermochemistry Laboratory. Team members include Texas A&M’s Rodney Bowersox, Sharath Girimaji, Helen Reed and Edward White from the Department of Aerospace Engineering, and Simon North from the Department of Chemistry. Other team members include researchers from the University of Arizona, Caltech and UCLA, as well as consultants from Case Western Reserve University and the Moscow Institute of Science and Technology. “Right now, where the transition from laminar flow to turbulent flow occurs is generally unknown. But if we can understand this, then there is the possibility of having a more efficient system,” Saric says. O
Aerospace Engineering Distinguished Professor, Stewart & Stevenson Professor II 979.862.1749 email@example.com
The Texas A&M team is using world-class facilities for this research: the NASA Langley Mach 6 55
by Lesley Kriewald
Biomechanics expert Jay Humphrey combines engineering and biology to treat cardiovascular diseases, from hypertension to aneurysms. Jay Humphrey’s heart is in his research — and in his students. Humphrey holds the Carolyn S. and Tommie E. Lohman ’59 Professorship in Engineering Education and is a Regents Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. A renowned expert in cardiovascular mechanics, Humphrey has published three textbooks, chapters in 16 other books and encyclopedias, and more than 140 journal papers. He earned his Ph.D. in bioengineering from Georgia Tech, studying the mechanics of the lungs. He then joined the cardiology division at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine for a postdoctoral fellowship in cardiovascular science because he says he felt the need to know more about the clinical side of the field.
“Because of the unique features of the cardiovascular system, however, these principles must be extended to accommodate the biology.” Through his innovative research, Humphrey and his students have developed mathematical models to disprove longstanding clinical hypotheses with regard to why aneurysms enlarge and rupture. They have also developed a new theory of “growth and remodeling” based on emerging ideas of mechanobiology that he says he hopes will provide new insight into the natural history of the disease and its treatment.
Today, Humphrey focuses his research on diseases of the cardiovascular system: hypertension, atherosclerosis, aortic and cerebral aneurysms, and cerebral vasospasm.
Because of the fundamental nature of this work, he and his students have been able to use the same ideas developed to study aneurysms to look at the mechanics of cataract surgery, the most common surgery performed in the United States. Working with a leading Texas-based eye health care company (Alcon Laboratories in Fort Worth), they hope that this new research will aid in the design of better artificial lenses for cataract surgery.
According to Humphrey, “We use the same engineering principles to study structures such as
A passionate researcher with more than $15 million in research funding from federal granting
“I wanted to combine my love for and interest in biology, physics and math, and biomedical engineering is how we put those together.”
arteries that a civil engineer would use to study bridges. We use the same principles to study the flow of blood through an artery that an aerospace engineer would use to study aircraft.
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agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, Humphrey is also actively engaged in teaching biomechanics and cardiovascular mechanics from the sophomore to Ph.D. level. He is also co-editor of Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology, an international journal he helped start in 2002. Recent industry assessments show it is one of the leading journals in the field. Humphrey says his students are not only great contributors in the laboratory, but they also have contributed to books by asking probing questions, coming up with novel ideas for research papers and even providing editorial assistance. “Our students are so bright, they force you to present the right ideas in the right ways,” Humphrey says. In fact, biomedical engineering attracts bright, high-achieving students who are motivated because the problems worked on are challenging and affect quality of life. Biomedical engineering students go on to medical school or Ph.D. research and teaching, or into industry. Humphrey says the strong biomedical engineering program at Texas A&M plays a key role in health care. Three thrust areas form the core of the biomedical engineering department: cardiovascular mechanics and mechanobiology, biomedical imaging and sensing, and biomaterials and medical devices. Humphrey and other faculty members researching cardiovascular mechanics apply principles of engineering to study diseases of the body’s vasculature.
Studying the progression and causes of these diseases can help lead to decisions about how to treat disease. Meanwhile, colleagues in the department develop technology for imaging whole organs and even individual molecules, which is critical for basic science and clinical treatment of disease. And once progression and cause are known, yet other colleagues work to develop treatments, including pharmacological techniques such as controlled release of drugs and surgical and medical devices, including developing biomaterials for use in these devices. In this way, Humphrey says, the department stands out because these three circles intersect and overlap. “This department was developed to be highly interdisciplinary. When we think of health care, we think first of the family doctor or of a hospital. But deeper than that is diagnostic and therapeutic medical devices such as MRIs, valves, stents, pacemakers, artificial lenses, knees and hips, and so much more. Those are all developed by engineers in collaboration with basic scientists and clinicians. “This is a great place for cutting-edge research in biomedical engineering.” O”
Jay D. Humphrey
Biomedical Engineering Regents Professor, Carolyn S. and Tommie E. Lohman ’59 Professor 979-845-5558 firstname.lastname@example.org
engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
By Gene Charleton
A Texas A&M engineer is combining decades-old technology with forward-looking developments to produce water desalination equipment to provide pure drinking water for a city of 200,000. Something old, something new. Something borrowed, something … that works. That’s how Texas A&M chemical engineer Mark Holtzapple describes his approach to designing a water treatment plant that promises to provide thirsty cities the tools to tap into sources once thought unsuitable to produce the drinking water they need. Holtzapple is convinced his water desalination technology will provide Laredo, Texas, with the water it needs to supply its growing population. The Laredo city council agrees. They’ve committed $1.6 million to fund construction of a pilot plant to be built by biofuels company Terrabon to prove that his design works.
Water, salt and people
Laredo is a growing city with a problem. Located on the Texas–Mexico border at the southern end of I-35, and the busiest crossing point between the United States and Mexico, Laredo is booming as a manufacturing and trading center. Enter the problem: potable water — too little of it to support a growing population. Every person in Laredo — and in most other American cities and towns — uses about 100 gallons of water a day. For Laredo in 2009, that
means about 22.5 million gallons of water a day, an amount that tapped out its allocation from the Rio Grande. Additional sources do exist but are impractical to draw from. There’s a lot of groundwater under and around Laredo, but it is brackish: It has a lot of salt in it, so much that it’s undrinkable. “The challenge is, how do you take this brackish water that is freely available in Laredo and upgrade it to drinking water standards?” Holtzapple says. Two technologies — reverse osmosis and vapor compression — are the top contenders for desalinating brackish water, such as the water Laredo may be depending on in the future.
Something old, something new
Reverse osmosis uses a molecules-thick plastic membrane to remove salt from water. Think of it like a high-tech window screen: Just as a window screen lets in a breeze but keeps out the mosquitoes, the membrane lets water molecules pass through while blocking molecules of salt. It works and it’s widely used: If you buy filtered water or have a home filtration system, chances are it’s a reverse osmosis system. The basic process has broad appeal and is also used in applications ranging from kidney dialysis to purifying maple syrup.
Research engineer Jorge Lara demonstrates how brackish water moves through Holtzapple’s vapor-compression desalination unit.
But reverse osmosis systems do have some potential drawbacks, most related to that molecules-thick membrane. Because it’s so thin, the membrane is fragile and easily damaged. Micro-organisms also like to grow on the membrane, and when they do, they reduce its capacity to pass water through. And salt often crystallizes on it, further blocking water flow. “One of the challenges is that it can be working great and just stop,” Holtzapple says. “It’s very hard to predict when it’s going to fail. “With something as important as water for a city, you can’t just say, ‘Well, we don’t have any water today: These micro-organisms took over the membrane. We’ll get it sorted out in a couple of weeks and get back to you.’” To overcome these limitations, Holtzapple’s method of purifying water for Laredo is an updated version of a long-established technology known as vapor-compression desalination. For at least 70 years, vapor-compression desalination has been used to purify salt water for drinking, and it was widely used on naval vessels during World War II. 60
Vapor compression uses heat and pressure to turn salt water into salt-free drinking water. It works like this: Salt water is heated to its boiling temperature (212°F, or 100°C), causing steam to form above the salt water. The steam is compressed to a slightly higher pressure, which raises its temperature (to 214°F, or 101°C). Because the steam temperature is higher than that of the salt water, heat moves from the steam to the salt water. This causes more salt water to boil and the steam condenses as distilled water, which is harvested as salt-free drinking water. In the past, vapor-compression desalination units provided relatively small quantities of fresh water, especially compared to the needs of Laredo, a city of more than 200,000 people. Holtzapple’s improvements to the equipment used to compress the water vapor and in the heat exchanger make his version of vapor compression much more efficient than its ancestors — enough to make it now practical for large-scale use, he says. “We’re approaching the technology with a ‘fresh eyes’ look,” Holtzapple says. “Even though it’s an old technology, we’re saying, ‘Let’s start with a engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
much more about it now; a patent application to protect the new use of the material is in the works. “It’s robust and inexpensive,” he says. “We’ve found that we could adapt it to our situation, and it’s working beautifully.”
Something borrowed, something … that works
The vapor-compression technology Holtzapple and the Laredo city council believe will solve the city’s future water problems wasn’t originally intended for municipal water supply. The compressor that squeezes down the water vapor is one Holtzapple originally designed for an ultra-fuel-efficient vehicle engine called the StarRotor. “We purposely set out not to use the StarRotor compressor so we wouldn’t be dependent on something that’s still being prototyped,” he says. “But I couldn’t find anything that could match what the StarRotor can do.” A prolific innovator, Holtzapple has produced breakthrough technologies in biofuels and highefficiency car engines. He originally designed the vapor-compression technology to desalinate water produced in a process to convert biomass (anything organic) to fuel. Working with the Houston-based Terrabon, he designed processes and equipment the company is testing to produce gasoline from materials ranging from harvest trash to sewage sludge.
clean sheet of paper and approach this thing from scratch.’ We, as engineers, have a number of tricks that we play that cause the process to get better.” The higher temperature and pressure in Holtzapple’s updated technology allow the new vapor-compression machinery to operate with a smaller compressor than its ancestors, which is more economical. And raising the temperature makes transferring energy back to the salt water easier.
Holtzapple says engineers sometimes overlook technology from the past when they try to solve problems. Often, that old technology can be updated with more recent developments and put to worthwhile use. “There’s a tendency for people not to go back to the simple things, because it’s not cutting edge anymore,” he says. “Many solutions still reside in simplicity. Simplicity tends to work.” O
“One of the things we’ve done that is, I think, a legitimate breakthrough is the heat exchanger,” he says. For the heat exchanger to function most efficiently, the water should condense into drops on the exchanger’s surface — dropwise condensation. Unfortunately, water usually doesn’t condense that way; it condenses into a thin sheet that interferes with energy transfer. Holtzapple says the breakthrough came when he discovered that a commercially available product intended to make water bead instead of sheet could be applied to the surface of the heat exchanger. It worked. He’s not saying
Mark Holtzapple Chemical Engineering Professor 979.845.9708 email@example.com
NEW DIRECTION IN DISTRIBUTION Certificate program focuses on health care By Lesley Kriewald
The Industrial Distribution (ID) program at Texas A&M is one of the oldest in the United States, celebrating 50 years in 2008. Entering its next halfcentury, the program is unveiling a new certificate program this fall to address a critical industry gap: health care distribution. Barry Lawrence, associate professor and director of the ID program, says the health care distribution certificate came about because health care is a rapidly growing industry, and because hospitals face the same issues that Texas A&M’s ID program has traditionally worked in — maintenance, repair and operations — but without distribution specialists to deal with them. Few other schools have pursued health care distribution as a degree field, Lawrence says, which forces companies to build their workforce from those working in other disciplines and find their way into health care distribution positions. “Almost no one is serving the industry,” Lawrence says. “You’ve got the technology side of it; you’ve got maintenance, repair and operations for the 62
hospitals; and then a lot of distribution-intensive areas, home health care and prosthetics, and other fields like that.”
The business and technology of health care products
The new industrial distribution certificate includes three concentrations: engineering technology, to develop an understanding of the products supported in this field; business, to understand how firms make and maintain profitability; and distribution, to understand how distributors support their customers. “To our knowledge, this certificate will be one of the first academic projects in health care distribution anywhere in the world,” Lawrence says. “And because industrial distribution at Texas A&M is so dominant in the field, it makes sense that the certificate program is here.” Assistant Professor Arunachalam Narayanan and colleagues are developing the certificate, which will consist of four courses: Medical Manufacturing, Health Care Technologies, Health Care engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
Distribution and Medical Terminology for the Health Professions. Although “new” as a formal certificate program, the field of health care distribution is familiar territory for the department. Pharmaceutical distributors have long been engaged with the program. For instance, McKesson, one of the largest pharmaceutical distributors in the United States, hosted a class project for the department in spring 2008, not only immersing students in real-world health care distribution but also providing a hands-on career test-drive in the field. Students visited the company, interviewed employees and executives, toured facilities, and learned about the company’s operations. At the end of the semester-long project, McKesson executives came back to hear what the students recommended. “The students must understand the company,” Lawrence says, “and undergraduates are so good about thinking outside the box because they don’t know what exactly the box is.” Specifically, the McKesson project challenged students to examine four areas: • Warehousing: Operations issues, including warehouse automation and efficient design, an examination of best practices compared to McKesson’s operations. McKesson was already at a high level, so the challenge for innovation was great, Lawrence says. • Transportation issues: Should McKesson use its own fleets, or would it be more efficient to outsource? • Inventory management: McKesson has a very expensive and complex inventory. It ran very high “turn rates,” the number of times an item is sold over a year, but still wanted to understand differences between products. For instance, high-cost pharmaceuticals have a short shelf life and need to “turn” quickly; diapers, however, do not have such limitations and thus have a higher profitability and might warrant a larger inventory. • Human resources: McKesson seeks highly qualified employees and focuses resources on training and recruitment; however, the company is always looking for better ways to find, train and retain those employees.
New field, familiar approach
Providing students with real-world applications for learning has become the hallmark of the ID program at Texas A&M. The new health care distribution certificate will follow in the same tradition.
“What makes our students so valuable is that they’re not only specialists in supply chain activities, but they specialize in technology through our engineering technology courses,” Lawrence says. “We don’t know how quickly it will grow, but our sense is that it will, almost instantaneously, become one of the most significant programs that we offer.”
“To our knowledge, this certificate will be one of the first academic projects in health care distribution anywhere in the world. And because industrial distribution at Texas A&M is so dominant in the field, it makes sense that the certificate program is here.” Narayanan adds, “The growth in the industry is tremendous. In 2008, every other supply chain had a dismal year, but the profit of most health care distributors went up by 6 percent or higher.” Not only will this certificate benefit students and employers, but it will also provide faculty learning opportunities. “We work in a complex world,” Lawrence says, “and most people probably don’t know most of the companies that we work with even exist. So the faculty have to get the knowledge of how these important but lesser-known industries operate.”
Engineering Technology & Industrial Distribution Assistant Professor Phone: 979.845.1642 firstname.lastname@example.org
Narayanan says, “Distribution as a discipline doesn’t exist in many universities, so we have to learn it ourselves to teach it, and that means we have to be involved with industry. Over the last year, we have visited, interviewed and surveyed several key players in this supply chain, such as hospitals, medical surgical distributors, drug distributors and manufacturers.” O
Engineering Technology & Industrial Distribution Professor, Industrial Distribution Program Director 979.845.1463 email@example.com
Dwight Look College of Engineering
12 departments more than
10,000 students Ranked 8th in graduate and 9th in Undergraduate Programs among public institutions
U.S. News & World Report, released Fall 2009
U.S. News & World Report, released Spring 2009
Top 10 Public Undergraduate Programs
Top 10 Public GRADUATE Programs
1 Petroleum Engineering 2 Nuclear Engineering 3 Biological & Agricultural Engineering 7 Industrial & Systems Engineering 8 Aerospace Engineering 8 Civil Engineering 9 Electrical Engineering 9 Mechanical Engineering
2 Biological & Agricultural Engineering 2 Nuclear Engineering 2 Petroleum Engineering 6 Industrial & Systems Engineering 8 Aerospace Engineering 8 Civil Engineering 10 Mechanical Engineering
engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
Student News Aerospace engineering students design asteroid-derailing spaceship Aerospace engineering students traveled to the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., to design a spacecraft able to derail an asteroid from a collision course with Earth.
Professor David Hyland
Professional engineers from the Ames Mission Design Center helped engineering students define a convergent design of a mission that could explore and deflect the asteroid Apophis.
The near-Earth asteroid Apophis was discovered in 2004. At the time, it raised alarm because many predicted that it could hit Earth as soon as 2029. It was classified as high as a 4 on the Torino scale, much higher than any other celestial object. It was determined that an impact in 2029 would not occur; however, the asteroid could still crash into Earth in 2036.
David Hyland, a professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, began work in 2006 on an exploration mission to the asteroid Apophis. The students in three courses taught by Hyland designed APEP, the Apophis Preliminary Exploratory Platform. This mission was meant merely to explore Apophis and track its movements. The result would be a decision on whether the asteroid had a high chance of colliding with Earth. In fall 2008, students in another of Hyland’s courses designed the Deflect Apophis System (DAS). The objective of the DAS was to move Apophis so it wouldn’t collide with Earth. The Apophis Exploration and Mitigation Platform (AEMP) is the current project, which involves both APEP and AEMP. First, the AEMP would stand some distance away from Apophis, taking the necessary science measurements needed to deflect the asteroid. Then it would employ a “gravity tractor” to begin moving it. After a year, an “albedo change” substance would be applied to the asteroid to bring long-term movement.
AggieSat2 lifts off with Endeavour For two years, the AggieSat Lab has been working on the picosatellite AggieSat2, a 5-inch cube, and it headed to space aboard the space shuttle Endeavour, which was launched on July 15, 2009. The AggieSat Lab is a Student Satellite Program under the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M. “AggieSat2 is built from scratch by our students; it’s a student-made, student-operated satellite,” says John Graves, a graduate student who worked on the satellite. AggieSat2 is one of two satellites launched from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The other satellite, Bevo-1, has been built by students from the University of Texas. The satellites differ in design but are identical in function. This mission, DRAGONSAT, is the first of four missions planned for an eightyear campaign, called LONESTAR, with NASA’s Johnson Space Center to demonstrate autonomous rendezvous and docking (ARD), a process in which spacecraft that are apart in space meet (rendezvous) and join to form a single unit (docking) without human control. The
first three missions will test the GPS; sensors; computers; and navigation, control and communications systems that will be needed for the final mission. The final mission will conclude with the successful docking of two satellites. NASA plans to use ARD in its Constellation Program for unmanned cargo vehicles and in space assembly. The AggieSat Lab was set up in 2005 by Helen Reed, a professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering. The lab aims to provide students with hands-on engineering experiences. Students apply concepts learned in classes, learn about systems engineering and industry practices, and create novel technologies. The AggieSat Lab is sponsored by NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Lockheed Martin, MEI Technologies, Oceaneering Space Systems, PM&AM Research, Department of Defense Space Test Program and Spreadsheet World. To follow AggieSat2 on Twitter or Facebook, visit the AggieSat Lab Web site at http://aggiesat.org.
Image shows AggieSat2 and BEVO1 attached, with the Earth in the background at the bottom. AggieSat2 is the topmost satellite with only a small square of green showing through the center of each panel. This picture was taken within minutes of deployment as the picosatellites floated away from Endeavour.
Student News Biomedical engineering student gets weightless testing personal navigation aid for spaceflight Many people resolve to lose weight, but seven university students had a different goal — to be “weightless.” Justin Barba, a biomedical engineering major at Texas A&M University, served as both an investigator and a test subject in an experiment to examine how the lack of gravity affects a person’s sense of direction and whether a simple device can improve the ability to navigate. He was part of a team of students from seven different universities. The student activity, supported by funds from the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) and Excalibur Almaz, was conducted through NASA’s Reduced Gravity Student Flight Program.
Aggie Formula Hybrid Car wins international competition A team of engineering students from Texas A&M University won the 2009 international Formula Hybrid racecar competition on their first try. The team scored 981 of a possible 1,000 points to win four of five events in competition against 29 other teams from colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, India, Taiwan and Russia with a hybrid gasoline-electric–powered formulastyle racecar. The competition was held May 4– 6 in Loudon, N.H. Colorado State University and Drexel University finished second and third, respectively. The team won events in which they presented their design and a business case to a panel of judges. They also won the autocross event — a test of the car’s agility — and the 24-lap endurance event. In a test of acceleration, the car finished third in electric motor–only acceleration and second in electricplus-engine acceleration. The students designed and built the formula-style vehicle in a two-semester senior design course. They designed the car during the 2008 fall semester and presented the design concept and final design to a review panel of engineers and racing and automotive experts. In spring 2009, the students built and tested the car. This is the first year Texas A&M has participated in the Formula Hybrid competition. Texas A&M teams have taken part in the international Formula SAE competition since 1999 and won that competition in 2000 and 2006.
The students volunteered for the project mentored by Scott Wood of NSBRI’s Sensorimotor Adaptation Team and planned details of the experiment while working as interns last summer at NASA Johnson Space Center. Experiments were conducted on an aircraft that simulates the weightlessness, or microgravity, experienced in space by flying a series of steep climbs and descents. The student flyers hope to publish the results of their study in a scientific journal, but the immediate benefit of the study will be to elementary and middle school classes in the students’ hometowns.
Mechanical engineering sophomore named Goldwater Scholar Joel Turtle, member of the Class of 2011, has been selected as a Barry M. Goldwater Scholar. Originally from Pullman, Wash., Turtle is a mechanical engineering major. He intends to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science and hopes to focus his research on sustainable design while teaching at the university level. Joel Turtle, Class of 2011
The Goldwater Scholarship is the United States’ premier undergraduate award for students in mathematics, science and engineering. Turtle was one of 278 sophomores and juniors in the nation to receive this award, out of a pool of more than 1,000 students, each nominated by his or her college or university. To date, 35 Texas A&M students have been honored as Goldwater Scholars. Goldwater Scholars are selected on the basis of academic merit, and almost all intend to obtain a Ph.D. and pursue research careers. The one- and two-year scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.
engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
Student News Engineering students help dining services reduce food waste A student-led effort to help Texas A&M University Dining Services reduce food waste by taking advantage of composting and recycling processes was among four local community-based initiatives that were reviewed in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering. Undertaken by service-minded Texas A&M students throughout the spring
semester, the four projects are part of an engineering course known as EPICS, or Engineering Projects in Community Service. Students in the EPICS program earn academic credit for multiyear, multidisciplinary projects that solve engineering and technology-based problems for community service and education organizations.
A partnership between EPICS and the university’s dining services has been formed to reduce the amount of food waste taken to landfills. A team of students focused on determining food-waste output in Texas A&M dining facilities and the treatment of this waste. The team also explored a new system of efficient foodwaste treatment, including composting and recycling.
Aggies receive top honors in regional Chem-E-Car competition
For the second year in a row, Texas A&M’s Chem-E-Car team advanced to the national competition by taking top honors in the American Institute of Chemical Engineer’s regional Chem-E-Car competition. The 2008 team, shown above, placed third in the national competition. The team’s entry (above right), traveled a distance of 59-feet, ½ inch, which placed it behind entries from Cornell and Louisiana State University. The 2009 team will travel to Nashville, Tenn., in November to compete at the competition, which will take place during the AIChE annual meeting.
A team of engineering students from Texas A&M received top honors in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ (AIChE) regional Chem-E-Car competition in March 2009 for the performance of its student-designed alternative-fuel– powered vehicle. With the win, the hydrogen-powered minivehicle, designed by Ani Attang, Mark Deimund, Elida Espinoza, Michael Finkelstein and Gene Hackebeil, will advance to the national Chem-E-Car competition, scheduled to take place in November during the annual AIChE meeting in Nashville, Tenn. “I felt confident that our car would do reasonably well,” said Deimund, a junior in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering. “Our design is pretty simple, pretty straightforward.”
The goal of the competition is to create a shoebox-sized car that runs off a chemical reaction a distance from 50 to 100 feet. The distance is specified at the competition, and teams calculate the amount of reactants needed to move the correct distance. In this year’s event, students were challenged to transport 250 milliliters (about a half-pint) of water 63 feet. Each team received two chances to run their cars, with their final score being their best attempt at meeting the established distance. Texas A&M’s 2008 team also advanced to the national competition, finishing third behind Cornell and Louisiana State.
The Chem-E-Car competition, first raced in 1999, provides students the opportunity to apply their knowledge of chemical engineering principles while helping build interest and expertise in alternative fuels.
Student News Aggies host one of largest student-run engineering career fairs Each year Texas A&M’s Student Engineers’ Council (SEC) holds two career fairs. The SEC Career Fair is the premier industry recruiting event for Dwight Look College of Engineering students and is planned, organized and staffed by the SEC. The career fair is one of the largest student-run engineering career fairs in the nation. Previous career fairs have drawn as many as 3,500 engineering and industrial distribution students and more than 300 companies.
Submarine team places third in international races The Maroon Harpoon, the Aggies’ submarine, raced to a third-place overall finish in the 10th International Submarine Races June 22–26, 2009, at the David Taylor Model Basin in Bethesda, Md. The 14-member team from the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering was one of 24 submarine teams in the competition.
¡Bienvenido a centroamérica! Civil engineering students go on trip of a lifetime
“[The team’s rank] is a credit to the team’s hard work over the past year and an excellent team effort at the races,” said Robert Randall, the team’s adviser and professor of coastal and ocean engineering. The team set a new Aggie speed record at the competition of 5.445 knots, shattering the previous record of 5.382 knots.
Society of Petroleum Engineers chapter named best in North America Texas A&M University’s student chapter of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) has been selected as the 2009 Outstanding Student Chapter for the North America Region. SPE Outstanding Student Chapter Awards recognize student chapters whose programs, activities and levels of participation during a single academic year distinguish those chapters from others. Civil engineering students spent six weeks studying abroad in Panama and Costa Rica. The students spent three weeks in Panama’s Ciudad del Saber — the City of Knowledge — and three weeks in Costa Rica at the new Texas A&M Soltis Center. One student, Ryan, blogged for Texas A&M Engineering about his experiences in Panama and Costa Rica. Read and view his video diary at http:// thinkbig.tamu.edu/blog/
Winners will be recognized Oct. 4, 2009, during the Student General Session at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.
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Student News Engineers Without Borders builds library for elementary school in Acuña, Mexico Selfless service. It is one of the core values of Texas A&M University, and a group of Aggie engineers showed a tiny school in Acuña, Mexico, what exactly it is all about. Members of the A&M student chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) spent part of their 2008 winter break in Acuña, which sits across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, Texas, constructing a library for the town’s elementary school. “They had nowhere to store their books,” said Felipe Rendon, president of the organization. “We built a 20-foot-by-20-foot library for them.” The Texas A&M chapter of EWB was founded in 2005, and like its national counterpart, EWB-USA, it focuses on the mission of partnering with developing communities worldwide in an effort to improve their quality of life through the implementation of environmentally sustainable, equitable and economical engineering projects. That is where the school in Acuña comes in. A group of Aggies visited the site in May 2008 on an assessment trip, taking measurements, determining where the best place on the school grounds would be for the library as well as determining what size building would work best. Once the assessment trip was complete, design on the new building began back at Texas A&M. A team of 22 to 25 people worked on the design during the fall. The needed paperwork was submitted to the national office of EWB for approval of the project. When the project was approved, and the design was finished, a group of 14 students headed to Acuña to construct the building, arriving in the town on Jan. 4. Twelve days later, the library was complete.
Felipe Rendon (top photo), president of the A&M chapter of Engineers Without Borders, works with a miter saw at the construction site in Acuña, Mexico. John Zwerneman, one of the project leads, is presented a plaque by Amelia Esquivel, director of Escuela Independencia (bottom photo).
“This was an excellent learning experience for the students that is often not available in the classroom,” said Jo Howze, senior associate dean for academic programs in the Dwight Look College of Engineering and an EWB adviser. “This included not only hands-on technical knowledge, but equally important, it develops critical skills for future success of our engineering students such as project management, leadership, teamwork, communications, sensitivity to other cultures, overcoming language barriers and effectively managing unforeseen obstacles. “I am very proud of our students for their persistence and hard work in accomplishing a task from an idea to reality.” While the Acuña project was the EWB’s first international project, it is far from its last. The group has already begun working toward its next endeavor: building restrooms for a school in Costa Rica.
Leadership Dwight Look College of Engineering Administration ADMINISTRATION
G. Kemble Bennett, P.E.
Dimitris C. Lagoudas, P.E. (Interim)
Vice Chancellor and Dean of Engineering Director, Texas Engineering Experiment Station Harold J. Haynes Dean’s Chair Professor
Department of Aerospace Engineering
Gerald Riskowski, P.E.
Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
Senior Associate Dean for Academic Programs Ford Motor Company Design Professor I in Engineering
Gerard L. Coté
N.K. Anand, P.E.
Michael V. Pishko
Executive Associate Dean (Interim) James M. and Ada Sutton Forsyth Professor in Mechanical Engineering
Robin Autenrieth, P.E.
Department of Biomedical Engineering Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering
John M. Niedzwecki, P.E. (Interim)
Zachry Department of Civil Engineering
Associate Dean for Graduate Programs A.P. and Florence Wiley Professor III in Civil Engineering
Valerie E. Taylor
Kenneth R. Hall, P.E.
Costas Georghiades, P.E.
SENIOR ASSOCIATE DEAN FOR RESEARCH JACK E. AND FRANCES BROWN CHAIR IN ENGINEERING
César Malavé, P.E.
Department of Computer Science and Engineering Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Walter W. Buchanan, P.E.
Associate Dean for ENGINEERING
Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution
Ray W. James, P.E.
Brett A. Peters
Dennis O’Neal, P.E.
Raymond J. Juzaitis
Assistant Dean for Engineering Student Services Associate Vice Chancellor For External Affairs Associate Vice Chancellor for Administration and Legal Affairs
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs
Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Department of Mechanical Engineering Department of Nuclear Engineering
Stephen A. Holditch, P.E.
Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering
Assistant VICE CHANCELLOR for Finance
Director, Engineering Student Services and Academic Programs
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Leadership Texas A&M Engineering Advisory Council Mark Albers ’79
Joe Fowler ’68
C. Skip Alvarado ’68
J.L. Frank ’58
Senior Vice President Exxon Mobil Corp. Vice President Fluor Corp.
Debra Anglin ’77
President and CEO Pate Engineers Inc.
Dionel Aviles ’53 President
Aviles Engineering Corp.
W.M. (Mike) Barnes ’64
Rockwell International, Retired
Craig Brown ’75
President and Owner Bray International Inc.
Tom Cogan ’77
President Stress Engineering Services Marathon Oil, Retired
Vice Chairman Energy Future Holdings
William Hanna ’58
Koch Industries, Retired
H. Darryl Heath ’84 Partner Accenture
J.R. Jones ’69
President Jones and Carter Inc.
Janeen Judah ’81
Dr. Sharon Nunes
Vice President IBM Systems & Technology Group
Erle Nye ’59
Chairman Emeritus TXU Corp.
T. Michael O’Connor
O’Connor Ventures Inc.
Thomas Paul ’62
General Electric, Retired
Robert Pence ’72
T.A. Smith ’66
Brent Smolik ’83
President El Paso Exploration & Production
Van Taylor ’71
SBC Communications, Retired
Don Vardeman ’75
Vice President, Worldwide Facilities Anadarko Petroleum Corp.
President and CEO Freese & Nichols Inc.
Dr. Ronnie Ward ’73
Michael Plank ’83
Delbert Whitaker ’65
Chairman and CEO The Plank Companies Inc.
Texas Instruments, Retired
James Wiley, Sr. ’46
Director, Airplane Product Dev. Boeing Commercial Airplanes
President Chevron Environmental Management Co.
Dr. Guylaine Pollock ’85
Senior Member, Technical Staff Sandia National Laboratories
Partner Wiley Brothers Investment Builders
James (Bob) Collins ’63
Tommy Knight ’61
Mark Puckett ’73
Walter Williams ’49
Tim Leach ’82
David Reed ’83
Ralph Cox ’53
Ken LeSuer ’57
Managing Director Collins and Collins LLC Vice President URS Corp.
President RABAR Enterprises
Senior Vice President of R&D National Instruments
Works General Manager BP Texas City Chemicals
R.D. Erskine ’66
Chairman and CEO Erskine Energy
Mark Fischer ’72
President and Owner Chaparral Energy Inc.
Thomas Fisher ’66 President M2P Financing
Peter Forster ’63
Chairman and CEO Clark Construction Group LLC
Brown & Root International, Retired Chairman and CEO Concho Resources Inc. Halliburton, Retired
Raymond Leubner ’73
Corporate Vice President Applied Materials
Marcus Lockard ’72
Chief Executive Officer Lockard & White Inc.
Tommie Lohman ’59
Chairman Telco Investment Corp.
A. Dwain Mayfield ’59
President ADM Global Resources
William Neely ’52
Dow Chemical Co., Retired
Chairman, President and CEO FMC Technologies Inc.
President Chevron Energy Technology
Vice Chairman Cheniere Energy Inc.
Vice President, Logic Fab Operation Texas Instruments Inc.
The Honorable Debbie Riddle Texas State Representative
Dr. J. Stephen Rottler ’80
Vice President Sandia National Laboratories
John Schiller Jr. ’81
Chairman and CEO Energy XXI
Kevin Schultz ’91
Vice President National Instruments
Christopher Seams ’84
Executive Vice President Cypress
Dennis Segers ’75 CEO Tabula Inc.
Charles Shaver ’80
President and CEO Texas Petrochemicals LP
Distinguished Faculty Leadership
403 Regents Professors
tenured or tenure track faculty 13 NAE Members 6 Distinguished Professors 14 Regents Professors 36 Endowed Chairs 66 Professorships
Dara Childs, P.E.
Distinguished Professors National Academy of Engineering Members Je-Chin Han, P.E.
Kenneth R. Hall, P.E.
John L. Junkins, P.E.
John L. Junkins, P.E.
J.N. Reddy, P.E.
W. John Lee, P.E.
M. Sam Mannan, P.E. Chemical Engineering
John M. Niedzwecki, P.E.
Kyle T. Alfriend
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Aerospace Engineering
B. Don Russell, P.E.
Electrical and Computer Engineering
William Saric, P.E.
Christine A. Ehlig-Economides Petroleum Engineering
Gilbert F. Froment
Stephen A. Holditch, P.E. Petroleum Engineering
John L. Junkins, P.E.
W. John Lee, P.E.
Jose M. Roesset
Warren F. Miller Jr., P.E. Nuclear Engineering
B. Don Russell, P.E.
Kenneth F. Reinschmidt Civil Engineering
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Chanan Singh, P.E.
Jose M. Roesset Civil Engineering
Electrical and Computer Engineering
B. Don Russell, P.E.
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Electrical and Computer Engineering
John A. Weese
Computer Science and Engineering
William Saric, P.E.
Computer Science and Engineering
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Faculty Honors & Awards Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) Haiyan Wang, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in December 2008 for her work with high-temperature superconductors. Wang was one of 67 of the nation’s best and brightest young scientists and engineers honored by then-President George W. Bush, and was among the 15 scholars nominated by the U.S. Department of Defense for the award, which is the highest honor for faculty members who are beginning their independent research careers. In 2009, Wang received the NSF CAREER Award. Other honors include the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Office’s Young Investigator Research Program in 2007 to study new superconductors, flat ribbons of metal coated with yttrium barium copper oxide. The new conductors are expected to be able to carry three to five times as much current than conventional power cables and do it at higher temperatures than earlier versions. In 2008 Wang received the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award for her research into multifunctional ceramic nanocomposites. The study will allow processing high-quality ceramic nanocomposites to meet the Navy’s needs on new structural materials for future ships and vehicles. Wang joined the electrical and computer engineering department in January 2006. She holds a bachelor of science degree from Nanchang University (China) and a master’s degree from the Institute of Metal Research (China). She received the Ph.D. degree from North Carolina State University.
Gregory Huff, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been named a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) by President Barack Obama, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on young professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Huff was among the 41 scholars nominated by the U.S. Department of Defense. The recipient scientists and engineers will receive their awards in fall 2009 at a White House ceremony. Other honors include the NSF CAREER Award and a Young Scientist Award from L’Union Radio-Scientifique Internationale (URSI), the International Union of Radio Science. Huff joined the Texas A&M engineering faculty in 2006. He received his Ph.D., master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Huff’s research interests include biologically inspired mechanisms and dynamic material systems for electromagnetic, acoustic and infrared agility; the theory, design and application of reconfigurable antennas and circuits; multifunctional radio frequency, microwave and millimeter-wave radiating systems and smart skins; studying the role of reconfigurable/multifunctional antennas in spread-spectrum digital communication techniques; multiple antenna techniques; and the placement and electromagnetic interference issues arising from the conformal integration high-speed devices and radiators into host chassis.
Anastasia Muliana, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has been named a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) by President Barack Obama, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on young professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Muliana was among the 41 scholars nominated by the U.S. Department of Defense. The recipient scientists and engineers will receive their awards in fall 2009 at a White House ceremony. Among her honors are the 2006 NSF CAREER Award for her research into new methods of analyzing the structure of advanced composite materials used in high-performance aircraft and marine construction, and in bridges, tunnels and pipelines. She also received the Air Force Office of Scientific Research’s Young Investigator Research Program Award to develop a framework that integrates coupled thermal, electrical and mechanical responses of the constituents of composites to the overall responses of smart composites, with application to morphing structures. The proposed framework will enhance understanding of the multifunctional performance of smart structures under extreme environments for design optimization of intelligent aerospace vehicles, which can significantly reduce development cost and time. Muliana came to Texas A&M in 2004. She received her master’s degree and Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is a member of the American Society of Composites and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Faculty Honors & Awards 2008–2009 NSF CAREER Awards
33 NSF CAREER Awards since 2003 Ulisses Braga-Neto, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received the NSF CAREER Award for his proposal, “Theory and Application of Small-Sample Error Estimation in Genomic Signal Processing.” He joined the department’s Biomedical Imaging and Genomic Signal Processing group in January 2007. Braga-Neto’s research interests include genomic signal processing and statistical pattern recognition, with applications in the study of cancer and infectious diseases. Zachary Grasley, assistant professor of materials engineering in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, received the NSF CAREER Award for his research into improving concrete materials. The project includes both educational and research components targeting this broad objective, with the research component more narrowly focused on the mechanical properties of cement-based materials. Grasley joined Texas A&M in August 2006. His teaching and research interests cover a broad spectrum of topics related to construction materials and their behavior. Gregory Huff, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received the NSF CAREER Award for his proposal, “Biologically Inspired Concepts for Reconfigurable Antennas and Multifunctional Smart Skins.” Huff’s research will enable new capabilities in radio frequency (RF) and microwave devices — the frequencies at which cell phones, Wi-Fi, etc., operate — by finding and exploiting unique parallels between nanoparticles, microfluidics and other emerging technologies with the functions of blood cells, veins and other biological systems. Huff joined the Texas A&M engineering faculty in 2006. Jaakko Järvi, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, received the NSF CAREER Award for his research in methods for increasing software reusability. Järvi’s project aims to identify incidental structures that arise in user interfaces and to model them as explicit software artifacts so that large amounts of ad hoc code can be replaced by reusable algorithms and other components. Järvi joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2004. His interests include generic and generative programming, software libraries, programming languages, type systems, and software construction in general. Arul Jayaraman, assistant professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, received the NSF CAREER Award for his research on soluble signal-mediated signaling between bacteria and human cells. Jayaraman came to Texas A&M in 2004. Jayaraman’s research focuses on investigating molecular mechanisms underlying inflammatory diseases and bacterial infections by using integrated experimental and modeling approaches. Research projects include systems biology of interleukin-6 signaling in liver inflammation; metabolic engineering and proteomics of adipocytes during hypertrophic enlargement; and quorumsensing signaling in bacterial communication and infection.
Tamás Kalmár-Nagy, assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, has received the NSF CAREER Award for his proposal, “Stability and Performance of Systems with Network-Induced Delays.” The research is aimed at developing a novel theoretical and computational framework for studying interconnected systems with random time delays. The research could affect a broad range of applications that use interconnected components, including space exploration, mobile sensor networks, teleoperated surgical robots and integrated building systems. Kalmár-Nagy joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2006. Interests include controlling autonomous vehicles, networked control systems, systems with delay and nonlinear dynamics. Eun Jung Kim, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, received the NSF CAREER Award for her research in high-performance computing. Kim’s project seeks to develop a comprehensive design paradigm for exploring the on-chip interconnect design space, especially focusing on how it interacts with the rest of the chip multiprocessor (CMP) architecture. Kim joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2003.Her teaching and research interests include computer architecture, power-efficient systems, parallel and distributed systems, computer networks, cluster computing, quality of service support in cluster networks and performance evaluation. Tie Liu, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has received the prestigious NSF CAREER Award for his proposal, “Information Theory and Coding for Wireless Broadcast Networks.” Liu joined the department in 2006. Liu’s research interests are in the field of information theory, wireless communication and signal processing. Lin Shao, assistant professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering, received the NSF CAREER Award for his research to explore the radiation response and stability of nanostructured materials. These materials could be used in the next generation of high-temperature nuclear reactors. His research has the potential to improve fundamental understanding of materials degradation issues and lead to cleaner, safer and more efficient nuclear energy. Shao was a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory before coming to Texas A&M in 2006. Haiyan Wang, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received the NSF CAREER Award for her proposal, “Novel Ceramic Nanocomposites with Smart Interface Design.” Wang joined the faculty in 2006. Her research interests lie in the area of functional oxide and nitride thin films for microelectronics, optoelectronics, high-temperature superconductors, solid oxide fuel cells, solar cells and advanced nuclear reactors. Her expertise is thin-film growth and characterizations. Sy-Bor Wen, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has received the NSF CAREER Award for his project, “Experimental and Theoretical Analysis for Optical Induced Thermal Energy Transport in Nano-Optical Systems with Pulsed Light Sources.” The research focuses on optically induced nanoscale heat transfer with an emphasis on nanooptical devices. Wen joined the faculty in 2007. His teaching and research interests include micro-/nanoscale conduction and radiation, ultrafast lightmaterial interaction and fabrication, ultrafast imaging and chemical analysis.
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Faculty Honors & Awards 2008–09 AFOSR YIP Awards Sergiy Butenko, assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, received the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Program Award for his proposal that focuses on the concept of a cohesive subgroup that can be used in several important application areas, including social network analysis, wireless networks, telecommunications and graph-based data mining. Butenko proposes new, more practical models. He will design algorithms for solving the resulting optimization problems and will use the developed techniques to analyze the structure of biological and social networks. Butenko came to Texas A&M in 2003.
Anastasia Muliana, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, received the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Program Award to develop a framework that integrates coupled thermal, electrical and mechanical responses of the constituents of composites to the overall responses of smart composites, with application to morphing structures. The proposed framework will enhance understanding of the multifunctional performance of smart structures under extreme environments and can support design optimization of intelligent aerospace vehicles, which can significantly reduce development cost and time. Muliana came to Texas A&M in 2004. She received the NSF CAREER Award in 2006 and a PECASE Award in 2009.
Faculty Honors & Awards AEROSPACE ENGINEERING Hurtado elected AIAA Associate Fellow Associate Professor John Hurtado has been elected an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). He was recognized for his accomplishments and contributions in the field of aeronautics and astronautics. Hurtado’s studies have led to better understanding of dynamic principles in three dimensions, theoretical mechanics, structural dynamics and celestial mechanics. Hurtado has authored many publications and holds three patents. He is a member of AIAA and the American Astronautical Society. Lagoudas and Hartl receive William Sweet Smith Prize Dimitris Lagoudas, interim head and the John and Bea Slattery Chair, and Ph.D. student Darren Hartl won the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ William Sweet Smith Prize for their paper, “Aerospace Applications of Shape Memory Alloys.” The paper discusses how shape memory alloys have become increasingly important in the field of aerospace engineering because they can reduce weight and increase compactness. Lagoudas also directs the Texas Institute for Intelligent Bio-Nano Materials and Structures for Aerospace Vehicles. Mortari receives award from NASA Associate Professor Daniele Mortari was recognized by NASA for “outstanding accomplishment through development and validation in space of an advanced technology spacecraft attitude determination sensor.” The attitude sensor was developed at Draper Laboratories and has successfully flown aboard the NASA TacSat-2 satellite. Mortari has developed the algorithms allowing the sensor to perform star identification and attitude determination processes. His research interests include orbital mechanics, constellation design, attitude determination systems, space surveillance and reconnaissance systems, linear algebra, and attitude sensor data processing.
BIOLOGICAL AND AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING Shaw appointed to Texas advisory panel on environmental regulations Associate Professor Bryan Shaw was appointed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to chair the newly created Texas Advisory Panel on Federal Environmental Regulations to assess potential impacts on Texas of federal environmental regulations. Shaw is a commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. He also has been associate director of the Center for Agricultural Air Quality Engineering and Science, as well as Acting Lead Scientist for Air Quality and Special Assistant to the Chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. Singh receives international honors Vijay P. Singh, professor and holder of the Caroline and William N. Lehrer Distinguished Chair in Water Engineering, was elected a Fellow of India’s National Academy of Agricultural Scientists, the Indian Association of Soil and Water Conservationists and the Portuguese Academy of Engineering. He also received the 2008 award from the Korean Society of Civil Engineers for the KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering, and the Bharat Gaurav Award, which is conferred annually on eminent personalities representing different ﬁelds from India and abroad by the Indian International Friendship Society. Biomedical Engineering Hyman receives Lifetime Achievement Award Professor William Hyman has been given the American College of Clinical Engineering (ACCE) Lifetime Achievement Award, the society’s highest award. It is based on lifelong accomplishments and contributions to the clinical engineering profession. Hyman’s work in clinical engineering includes teaching, co-editorship of the Journal of Clinical Engineering, substantial writing in the field, and serving on the U.S. Board for Certification of Clinical Engineers and as president of the ACCE Healthcare Technology Foundation.
Faculty Honors & Awards Humphrey elected ASME Fellow Jay Humphrey, Regents Professor and holder of the Carolyn S. and Tommie E. Lohman Professorship in Engineering Education, has been elected a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Humphrey has been author or co-author of two textbooks, 103 journal papers and 13 book chapters and he is co-founder and co-editor of the international journal Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology. He has been principal investigator for grants and contracts totaling more than $15 million and has received many awards for teaching, research and service. CHEMICAL ENGINEERING Juergen Hahn named Outstanding Reviewer by journal Assistant Professor Juergen Hahn was named an Outstanding Reviewer by Automatica, the flagship journal of the International Federation of Automatic Control. Each year the editors of Automatica identify a select group of reviewers from a pool of about 1,300 individuals who prepare reviews for the journal. This is Hahn’s third consecutive selection. As a reviewer, Hahn is responsible for judging the novelty of the work and quality of the manuscripts that Automatica is considering for publication. Mariah Hahn receives ASEE section’s Outstanding Young Faculty Award Assistant Professor Mariah Hahn received the 2009 American Society for Engineering Education Gulf Southwest Section Outstanding Young Faculty Award, which aims to encourage and recognize young faculty participation in ASEE or engineering education activities and events. Hahn’s research focuses on understanding cell– cell and cell–material interactions at a more fundamental level to rationally guide tissue regeneration. Areas of her current research emphasis include controlling material, mechanical and chemical properties at the microscale, vascular tissue engineering and vocal fold regeneration. Kuo elected chair of the ECS Electronics and Photonics Division, appointed to Hong Kong panel Dow Professor Yue Kuo was elected chair of the Electronics and Photonics Division of the Electrochemical Society. Kuo’s research is concentrated on nano- and microelectronics with special interests in semiconductor materials, processes and devices as well as thin films and plasma technology. He is a Fellow of the ECS and IEEE. Kuo was also appointed a formal member of the engineering panel of the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong, which is Hong Kong’s equivalent of the National Science Foundation. Mannan receives AIChE Award, Polish university’s Medal of Honor M. Sam Mannan, Regents Professor and holder of the Mike O’Connor Chair, received the Norton H. Walton/ Russell L. Miller Award for 2009 from the Safety and Health Division of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Mannan, director of the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center, is an internationally recognized expert on process safety and risk assessment. He also was honored with the Medal of Honor of the Technical University of Lodz in Poland for significant contributions to the scientific cooperation between Texas A&M and
Technical University, as well as his support of process safety education and research. Pishko receives Bioengineering Plenary Lecture Award Michael V. Pishko, professor and the Charles D. Holland ’53 Professor, has received the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Food, Pharmaceuticals and Bioengineering Plenary Lecture Award. Pishko, whose research interests include microfabricated biosensors, neovascularization of implanted biomaterials and “smart” drug delivery systems, was honored at the 2008 AIChE Annual Meeting for his presentation, “Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery and Biochemical Sensing.” The presentation detailed Pishko’s research in nanoparticles as drug delivery systems for chemotherapy and the development of nanosensors for mapping oxidative stress in cells. Computer Science and Engineering Choe, research group win best paper award A group of researchers led by Associate Professor Yoonsuck Choe won the Best Scientific Paper Award at the International Conference on Pattern Recognition. Their paper, “Relative Advantage of Touch over Vision in the Exploration of Texture,” proposed a new texture boundary detection algorithm. The researchers found that algorithms mimicking tactile processes in the brain perform better in finding the boundary between two different textures than those mimicking visual processes. The rationale behind this is that “texture” is a surface property, and thus it may be more intimately linked with touch than with vision. Klappenecker wins Best Paper Award at Conference on Quantum, Nano and Micro Technologies Associate Professor Andreas Klappenecker received the Best Paper Award at the Third International Conference on Quantum, Nano and Micro Technologies for the paper “Encoding Subsystem Codes with and without Noisy Gauge Qubits” with Pradeep Kiran Sarvepalli. Klappenecker’s research interests include the design and analysis of algorithms, particularly quantum algorithms; signal and image processing; and cryptography. He received the NSF CAREER Award in 2004. Murphy chosen as distinguished speaker, Wired magazine “Alpha Geek” Raytheon Professor Robin Murphy was chosen as a distinguished speaker for the Field Robotics 25th Anniversary: Celebrating Pioneering in Field Robotics Symposium at Carnegie Mellon University in October 2008. The event focused on the future of field robotics and honored one pioneer, Red Whittaker. Murphy was also declared an “Alpha Geek” by Wired magazine for her work with search-and-rescue robots, which have been used in the rubble of the World Trade Center after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as in mud slides, caved-in mines and collapsed buildings around the world. Stroustrup publishes new C++ book Bjarne Stroustrup, professor and College of Engineering Chair in Computer Science, published a new book, Programming Principles and Practice Using C++. This book was written primarily to teach the fundamentals, concepts and techniques of programming in greater
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Faculty Honors & Awards depth as compared to traditional introductions. It presents modern C++ programming techniques from the start, introducing the C++ standard library to simplify programming tasks. Stroustrup is the designer and original implementer of C++ and the author of The C++ Programming Language. Stroustrup is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a founding member of the ISO C++ standards committee. Vitter receives SIGMOD 2009 Test of Time Award Professor Jeffrey S. Vitter has received the 2009 Test of Time Award from the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Management of Data (ACM SIGMOD) for a 1999 SIGMOD paper, “Approximate Computation of Multidimensional Aggregates of Sparse Data Using Wavelets.” The award acknowledges the paper from the proceedings of the SIGMOD conference held 10 years earlier that has had the most impact in terms of research, products and methodology over the past decade. Welch wins Best Paper Award at IEEE symposium Jennifer Welch, the Chevron Corporation Professor and Regents Professor, received a Best Paper Award at the 23rd IEEE International Parallel and Distributed Processing Symposium for the paper “Crash Fault Detection in Celerating Environments.” Welch received the IEEE Education Society Hewlett-Packard Harriet B. Rigas Award in 2004. Her research interests include algorithms and lower bounds for distributed computing systems; specification, implementation and applications of distributed shared objects; communication network protocols; timing models and clock synchronization; and modularity in design analysis of distributed algorithms. Civil Engineering Briaud elected ASCE Geo-Institute president Jean-Louis Briaud, professor and Spencer J. Buchanan ’26 Chair in Civil Engineering, was elected president of the Geo-Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Briaud is director of the U.S. National Geotechnical Experimentation Site at Texas A&M. One of Briaud’s goals for his tenure is “to develop a closer cooperation between professors and practitioners.” He aims to further develop those interactions while completing his other responsibilities, such as visiting local chapters, attending conferences and representing the Geo-Institute. Edge named Distinguished Member of ASCE Billy Edge, the W.H. Bauer Professor in Dredging Engineering and director of the Reta and Bill Haynes ’46 Coastal Engineering Laboratory, was named a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. A renowned expert in coastal engineering, Edge has published more than 100 articles in refereed journals and conference proceedings from his research in the areas of coastal engineering, dredging technology, storm surge and hurricanes, coastal zone management and water quality modeling.
Lord named associate member of research institute Assistant Professor Dominique Lord of the department’s Transportation and Materials Engineering Division was chosen as an associate member of the Interuniversity Research Centre on Enterprise Networks, Logistics and Transportation (CIRRELT), a renowned interuniversity research institute. CIRRELT exists to research, advance, diffuse and transfer knowledge in the fields of engineering and management of enterprise, transportation and logistics networks, as well as to train graduate and postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows in these fields. Socolofsky recognized by ASCE for hydraulics research Assistant Professor Scott Socolofsky and co-authors received the 2009 Karl Emil Hilgard Hydraulic Award from the Environmental Water Resources Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers for the paper “Experiments on Mass Exchange between Groin Fields and Main Stream in Rivers,” which was published in the Journal of Hydraulic Engineering. Socolofsky received the NSF CAREER Award in 2004. His research interests include environmental fluid mechanics, multiphase flow and direct ocean carbon sequestration, and shallow flow stability. Electrical and Computer Engineering Datta elected IEEE Fellow Professor Aniruddha Datta has been elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Datta was cited “for contributions to control techniques in cancer genomics.” His areas of interest include robust adaptive control, proportional–integral–derivative (PID) control and more recently, genomic signal processing and control. He has published five books and more than 100 refereed journal and conference papers on these topics. Miller elected IEEE Fellow Professor Scott Miller was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Miller was cited “for contributions to the theory of spread spectrum communications.” He has published more than 75 refereed journal and conference papers on a variety of topics in the area of digital communication theory. Miller currently is chair of the IEEE Communications Theory Technical Committee. Huff, Ph.D. student win Best Paper Award at AHS-2009 Conference Assistant Professor Gregory Huff and his Ph.D. student, S. Andrew Long, received the Best Paper Award in Reconfigurable Hardware from the NASA/ESA (European Space Agency) Conference on Adaptive Hardware and Systems (AHS-2009). Huff and Long won the award for their paper, “A Substrate Integrated Fluidic Compensation Mechanism for Deformable Antennas.” The award comes with a cash prize and will be published on the AHS-2009 Web site. Huff joined the department in 2006. Recent honors include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and an NSF CAREER Award.
Faculty Honors & Awards Pfister wins IEEE Best Paper Award in Signal Processing and Coding for Data Storage Assistant Professor Henry Pfister received the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Best Paper Award in Signal Processing and Coding for Data Storage for the paper “Determining and Approaching Achievable Rates of Binary Intersymbol Interference Channels Using Multistage Decoding.” It was published in IEEE Transactions on Information Theory in April 2007. Pfister received the NSF CAREER Award in 2008. His research interests include information theory, iterative coding techniques and statistical inference. Russell appointed Distinguished Professor B. Don Russell, Regents Professor and the Harry E. Bovay Jr. Endowed Chair, has been promoted to Distinguished Professor. An internationally recognized electric power engineer, Russell’s specialty is in the automation, control and protection of power systems. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineers, and a Fellow of the National Academy of Forensic Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Institute of Electrical Engineers of England and the National Society of Professional Engineers. He was recently elected vice chair of the NAE’s Electric Power and Energy section and is past president of the IEEE Power and Energy Society. Russell previously was executive associate dean of the Dwight Look College of Engineering and associate vice chancellor for engineering for The Texas A&M University System. Shakkottai receives DTRA Young Investigator Award Assistant Professor Srinivas Shakkottai has received a Young Investigator Award from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), a part of the Department of Defense and the U.S. Strategic Command. Shakkottai’s proposal focused on robust information networks. Shakkottai joined the faculty in 2008. His research interests center around communication networks, with an emphasis on the Internet. Focus areas include graphical models for networks, wireless ad hoc networks, peerto-peer systems, pricing approaches and game theory, congestion control, and the measurement and analysis of Internet data. Toliyat wins award for paper at IEEE conference Raytheon Professor Hamid Toliyat received the 2008 Best Paper Second Prize by the IEEE Industrial Electronics Society Electrical Machine Technical Committee. Toliyat and Salih Baris Ozturk won for their paper, “Sensorless Direct Torque and Indirect Flux Control of Brushless DC Motor with Non-Sinusoidal Back-EMF.” Toliyat is an IEEE Fellow and has received the prestigious Cyrill Veinott Award in Electromechanical Energy Conversion from the IEEE Power Engineering Society in 2004. Wright elected Fellow of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance Medicine Royce E. Wisenbaker Professor Steven M. Wright was elected a Fellow of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance Medicine. Wright was cited for his significant contributions to magnetic resonance engineering and radio frequency coil design. He is also a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. His research interests are in the areas of magnetic reso-
nance imaging (MRI), antenna theory and electromagnetics. He directs the department’s Magnetic Resonance Systems Lab, which aims to develop instrumentation and techniques to improve magnetic resonance imaging and to train students in MRI, radio frequency, applied electromagnetics, and image and signal processing. Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution Buchanan receives ASEE Distinguished Service Citation Walter Buchanan, J.R. Thompson Department Head Chair, received the 2009 American Society for Engineering Education Distinguished Service Citation. Buchanan was recognized for his distinguished accomplishments and service to ASEE. This is only the ninth time this award has been given in the past 25 years. Buchanan is a Fellow of ASEE and the National Society of Professional Engineers, as well as a senior member of IEEE and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. He has received many awards, including the ASEE James H. McGraw Award, the ASEE Frederick J. Berger Award, the NSPE Outstanding Service Award, and the International Conference on Engineering and Computer Education Award. Jennings wins Best Case Award, elected to the Texas Labor Management Conference Board of Directors Daniel F. Jennings, the I. Andrew Rader Professor in Industrial Distribution, won the 2008 Best Case Award from the Southwest Case Research Association, a division of the Federation of Business Disciplines. The award-winning case, Austin Electronics, is the disguised name of a successful multibillion-dollar international electronics firm that examines the personal and political factors in the sequence of events occurring in the implementation of key personnel changes. The case involves the interaction of an international distribution group manager and the top three executives of the firm. Jennings has also been elected to the Board of Directors for the Texas Labor Management Conference, a partnership between labor organizations and employers from the public, private and government sectors that promotes working together in Texas. Jennings is the director of the department’s Master of Industrial Distribution Program and a registered professional engineer in Texas. He is a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators and has been involved in labor arbitration since 1988. Leon appointed to ABET Technology Accreditation Commission Jorge Leon, professor and director of the Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology Program, has been appointed a member of the 2009–2010 ABET Technology Accreditation Commission. Leon teaches courses in the areas of operations and capacity management, production scheduling, quality assurance, design of experiments, manufacturing systems modeling and analysis, and electronics manufacturing. His areas of interest are in capacity and inventory management, finite-capacity resource operations planning, applications of combinatorial optimization, heuristic search, and microelectronics assembly.
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Faculty Honors & Awards Nepal wins Best Paper Award Assistant Professor Bimal Nepal won a Best Paper Award from the Engineering Management Journal, the flagship journal of the American Society for Engineering Management. The paper, “Quality-Based Business Model for Determining Non-Product Investment: A Case Study From Ford’s Automotive Engine Plant,” was recognized at the ASEM Annual Conference in November. Porter receives 2009 ASEE Robert G. Quinn Award Jay Porter, associate professor and director for Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering Technology Programs, received the 2009 American Society for Engineering Education Robert G. Quinn Award, which recognizes outstanding faculty who have promoted excellence in experimentation and laboratory instruction. Porter is a licensed professional engineer and a member of ASEE, IEEE and the Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. His research interests include analog and radio frequency electronics, instrumentation and measurement, and virtual instrumentation development. Industrial and Systems Engineering Çetinkaya and Uster win INFORMS award Associate Professors Sila Çetinkaya and Halit Uster, along with their former students Burcu Keskin and Gopal Easwaran, won the 2008 Daniel Wagner Prize in Operations Research Practice from INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences). The award was for the paper “An Integrated Outbound Logistics Model for Frito-Lay: Coordinating Aggregate Level Production and Distribution Decisions,” collaborative research to develop a logistics model for Frito-Lay.
Kianfar receives IIE doctoral dissertation award Assistant Professor Kiavash Kianfar received the 2008 Institute of Industrial Engineers Pritsker Doctoral Dissertation Award. His dissertation, “Generalized Mixed Integer Rounding Valid Inequalities for Integer Programming Problems,” was completed at North Carolina State University. Kianfar joined the industrial and systems engineering faculty at Texas A&M in 2007. McComb selected to participate in NAE Frontiers of Engineering symposium Associate Professor Sara A. McComb has been selected to participate in the National Academy of Engineering’s 15th Annual Frontiers of Engineering Symposium in September at the National Academies’ Beckman Center at the University of California, Irvine. McComb is one of 88 of the nation’s brightest young engineers selected to participate in the three-day event, which brings together engineers ages 30 through 45 from industry, government and academia who are doing cutting-edge engineering research and technical work in a variety of disciplines. McComb received the NSF CAREER Award in 2001.
Mechanical Engineering Grunlan receives Dow Young Faculty Award Assistant Professor Jaime C. Grunlan has received the 2009 Young Faculty Award from the Dow Chemical Co. Grunlan, who has a joint appointment in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering, was recognized and presented a talk, “Multifunctional Polymer Nanocomposites for Energy Conversion, Gas Barrier and AntiFlammability.” The award was established to recognize “a non-tenured faculty member at an accredited university for his/her outstanding research achievement or potential in chemistry, polymers or materials science.” Grunlan joined the department in 2004 and received the NSF CAREER Award in 2007. Langari elected ASME Fellow Professor Reza Langari has been elected a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Langari has played a significant role in the development of theoretical foundations of fuzzy logic control and its applications to problems in mechanical engineering. His work on stability of fuzzy control systems is widely recognized as pioneering the use of nonlinear systems analysis techniques to fuzzy logic. Langari and his students have developed methodologies for modeling complex systems by using fuzzy logic in addition to applying these methods to the control of magnetic bearing systems, hybrid electric vehicles, heavy vehicles, and energy management and control systems. McDermott receives automotive society’s Excellence in Engineering Education Award Associate Professor Make McDermott received the Excellence in Engineering Education Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers. McDermott has taught and conducted research at Texas A&M since 1972 and currently advises the Texas A&M Formula Hybrid team and teaches design part-time. He conducted research on automotive adaptive equipment for handicapped drivers from 1972 until 1990, and the work of his research group at Texas A&M provided the basis for SAE Standard J2092 on wheelchair lifts for vans. O’Neal elected ASME Fellow Dennis O’Neal, department head and the Holdredge-Paul Professor, has been named a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. His research interests are in heating, ventilating, and air conditioning; frost formation on heat exchangers; heat pump system defrost performance and dynamics; ventilation air heat pumps; and aerosol mixing in ventilation systems. His research has contributed significantly to the improvement of air conditioning, refrigeration, ventilation systems and energy conversion systems. He also wrote a chapter for the Mechanical Engineers’ Handbook and the HVAC Handbook.
Faculty Honors & Awards Petersen, research group win ASME Best Paper Award Associate Professor Eric Petersen and members of his research group have won the Best Paper Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Turbo Expo 2008. Petersen and co-authors, along with collaborators from Rolls-Royce Canada and the National University of Ireland, Galway, were honored for their paper, “Ignition and Flame Speed Kinetics of Two Natural Gas Blends with High Levels of Heavier Hydrocarbons.” Petersen received the NSF CAREER Award in 2006. Rasmussen receives Distinguished New Faculty Award Assistant Professor Bryan Rasmussen was honored with a 2009 Distinguished New Faculty Award at the 20th International Conference on College Teaching and Learning. Rasmussen began teaching at Texas A&M in 2006. He is a recipient of the 2007 NSF CAREER Award. He is also a member of ASME and IEEE. His research interests include dynamic modeling and control of thermo-fluid energy systems, model reduction, model validation, automated modeling, nonlinear control, robust control and alternative energy systems. Nuclear Engineering Hassan elected AAAS Fellow, receives ANS Seaborg Medal Professor Yassin Hassan has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his “distinguished contributions to thermal hydraulics applied to nuclear energy, particularly [his] pioneering work extending the use of particle image velocimetry to multiphase flow measurements.” He also received the Glen Seaborg Medal from the American Nuclear Society. Hassan is a Fellow of ANS and ASME and has received the 2004 ANS Thermal Hydraulics Technical Achievement Award; the ASME George Westinghouse Gold Medal; and the ASEE Glenn Murphy Award. His research interests include computational and experimental thermal hydraulics; reactor safety; two-phase flow; turbulence and laser velocimetry; and imaging techniques. Miller nominated, confirmed for Obama administration post Research Professor Warren F. Miller Jr. has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as assistant secretary for nuclear energy in the U.S. Department of Energy. Miller, who is also the associate director of the Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute at Texas A&M, was nominated by President Barack Obama. Miller earned his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from Northwestern University and served for many years as a researcher and administrator at Los Alamos National Laboratory, retiring in 2001. Miller was elected as a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society in 1982 and was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering in 1996. Peddicord named to Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission Kenneth L. Peddicord, professor and Nuclear Power Institute director, was appointed to the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The commission will provide for the management and disposal of low-level radioactive waste, while maintaining the priority of health, safety and welfare of citizens. Peddicord will serve on the commission through November 2014. Peddicord is also a
consultant for Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is a member of the American Nuclear Society for Engineering Education, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and American Society for Engineering Education. Poston appointed to ABET board Professor John Poston Sr. was appointed to the board of directors for the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). An expert on internal and external radiation dosimetry, Poston and his colleagues at Texas A&M developed the only ABET-accredited program in Radiological Health Engineering, which combines the basics of engineering with nuclear engineering, safety engineering and radiation protection. Poston is a Fellow of AAAS, ANS and the Health Physics Society, as well as a member of the Society of Nuclear Medicine, ASEE and the International Radiation Protection Association. In 2005, Poston was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health. Shao receives 2008 IBMM Prize Assistant Professor Lin Shao was awarded the inaugural 2008 International Ion Beam Modification of Materials Prize. Shao has made significant contribution to the fields of ion beam analysis and ion beam modification of materials. His research on defect engineering for shallow junction and ion beam slicing for thin-layer transfer are two critical technologies that will allow the production of next-generation integrated electronic devices with low power consumption, fast switching speed, and higher circuit-packing densities. Petroleum Engineering Burnett receives World Oil Award David Burnett, director of technology for the Global Petroleum Research Institute, received the Health, Safety, Environment/Sustainable Development Award at the 7th Annual World Oil Awards for making significant strides in protecting the environment through technical innovation. Burnett’s team uses advanced membrane technology to eliminate suspended and dissolved materials from brackish and saline water feeds. Texas A&M has licensed the technology to a commercial operator, M-I SWACO, and has promoted the adoption of his technology to the field of brackish groundwater desalination for municipal purposes in arid areas of Texas. Datta-Gupta to receive SPE’s Carll Award Akhil Datta-Gupta, professor and holder of the LeSeur Chair in Reservoir Management, has won the 2009 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) John Franklin Carll Award, SPE’s second-highest award for technology development. Datta-Gupta manages the largest and most active joint industry project in the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering. His research into sophisticated systems of dynamic data integration has helped simplify problems of how fluids move in the subsurface so they can be recovered for use.
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Faculty Honors & Awards Ehlig-Economides receives SPE Lucas Medal Christine Ehlig-Economides, professor and A.B. Stevens Endowed Chair, has been selected as the 2010 recipient of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Anthony F. Lucas Gold Medal — SPE’s highest award for technology development — for her work in advancing both reservoir engineering and hydraulic fracturing technologies. Her work in reservoir engineering helps the industry estimate the amount of resources available; her work in fracturing helps extract resources from unconventional, challenging reservoirs. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Economides currently leads Texas A&M’s program in energy engineering that engages students from multiple disciplines in shaping their outlook on sustaining a positive energy balance for the future. Hill receives 2008 SPE Production and Operations Award A. Daniel Hill, professor and holder of the Robert Whiting Chair, was awarded the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) 2008 Production and Operations Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement or contributions to the advancement of petroleum engineering in the area of production and operations technology. Hill is a world-renowned specialist in production logging, multiphase flow in pipes and well stimulation, and he holds five patents for improved oil recovery through injection processes. Hill is a Distinguished Member of SPE and a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and of the Society of Professional Well Log Analysts. Holditch elected RPSEA Board of Directors chair Department head Stephen A. Holditch has been elected chair of the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA). Holditch joined the faculty in 1976 and was named head in 2004. Holditch, holder of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation Chair in Petroleum Engineering, was the Society of Petroleum Engineers International (SPE) president in 2002, SPE vice presidentfinance and a member of the SPE Board of Directors from 1998 to 2003. In addition, he served as a trustee for the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME) from 1997 to 1998. In 1995, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and in 1997 to the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. He was elected as an SPE and AIME Honorary Member in 2006.
Mamora named SPE Distinguished Member Rob L. Adams Professor Daulat Mamora was named a Society of Petroleum Engineers Distinguished Member for 2009. Mamora’s research interests are in the areas of steam injection with additives (propane, petroleum distillate) to enhance heavy oil production; analytical steamflood prediction methods; water-alternatingenriched gas injection to enhance recovery from light oil reservoirs; and carbon dioxide sequestration in depleted/ abandoned gas fields. An accomplished researcher and teacher, Mamora is active outside academia, conducting training courses for industry and serving as a consultant to international companies. Nasr-El-Din receives 2009 SPE Production and Operations Award Professor Hisham Nasr-El-Din received the 2009 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Production and Operations Award. During his 40-year career, Nasr-El-Din’s work has touched nearly every approach to improved production technology, mostly through the development of products and processes that move hydrocarbons from their locations within a reservoir to the wellbore, where they can be produced to the surface for processing. Schubert releases new drilling book Assistant Professor Jerome Schubert has co-authored a new textbook, Managed Pressure Drilling. This comprehensive handbook, co-authored with Bill Rehm, Jim Hughes and Ph.D. candidates Arash Haghshenas and Amir Saman Paknejad, is a one-of-a-kind reference, describing the methods and advantages of managed pressure drilling in easy-to-understand language, including real case studies, common equipment used and an extensive glossary of common terms. Schubert is an author and co-author of more than 30 conference and journal papers, and he holds three dual-gradient drilling patents.
Lee part of SEC award-winning team W. John Lee, Regents Professor and holder of the L.F. Peterson Endowed Chair, has been honored by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The award, the Law and Policy Award, was given to the Oil and Gas Reporting Rule Writing Team, of which Lee was a member. The SEC Law and Policy Award “recognizes individuals or groups who develop legal theories that respond to the nation’s changing capital markets, and who demonstrate dedication to the goals of the securities laws through their untiring efforts on legislative issues.”
Chairs & Professorships Chairs
LeSuer Chair in Reservoir Management Akhil Datta-Gupta Petroleum Engineering
Albert B. Stevens Chair in Petroleum Engineering Christine Ehlig-Economides
Marcus C. Easterling ’30 Chair in Mechanical Engineering Je-Chin Han, P.E.
A.P. and Florence Wiley Professorship I in Civil Engineering Paul N. Roschke, P.E.
Baker Hughes Chair in Petroleum Engineering Maria A. Barrufet, P.E.
Mike O’Connor Chair I in Chemical Engineering M. Sam Mannan, P.E.
A.P. and Florence Wiley Professorship III in Civil Engineering Robin L. Autenrieth, P.E.
College of Engineering Chair in Computer Science Bjarne Stroustrup
Mike O’Connor Chair II in Chemical Engineering Thomas K. Wood
Computer Science and Engineering
Delbert A. Whitaker Chair in Electrical Engineering Costas Georghiades, P.E. Electrical and Computer Engineering
E.B. Snead ’25 Chair in Transportation Engineering (E.B. Snead Chair of Transportation Engineering) Dallas N. Little, P.E. Civil Engineering
Forsyth Chair in Mechanical Engineering K.R. Rajagopal Mechanical Engineering
Fred J. Benson Chair in Civil Engineering Robert L. Lytton, P.E. Civil Engineering
Harold J. Haynes Dean’s Chair in Engineering G. Kemble Bennett, P.E. Vice Chancellor and Dean of Engineering Harry E. Bovay, Jr. Chair for the History and Ethics of Professional Engineering B. Don Russell, P.E.
Oscar S. Wyatt, Jr. ’45 Chair in Mechanical Engineering J.N. Reddy, P.E. Civil Engineering
R.P. Gregory ’32 Chair in Civil Engineering John M. Niedzwecki, P.E. Civil Engineering
Robert M. Kennedy ’26 Chair in Electrical Engineering Edward R. Dougherty Electrical and Computer Engineering
Robert Whiting Chair in Petroleum Engineering A. Daniel Hill
A.P. and Florence Wiley Development Professorship in Civil Engineering Francisco Olivera Civil Engineering
Aghorn Energy Development Professorship in Petroleum Engineering Robert H. Lane Petroleum Engineering
Allen-Bradley Professorship in Factory Automation V. Jorge Leon, P.E. Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution
Arthur McFarland (1905) Professorship in Engineering BIll Batchelor, P.E.
Royce E. Wisenbaker ’39 Chair I for Innovation in Engineering John L. Junkins, P.E.
Carolyn S. and Tommie E. Lohman ’59 Professorship in Engineering Education Jay D. Humphrey
Royce E. Wisenbaker ’39 Chair II in Engineering David C. Hyland
Charles D. Holland ’53 Professorship in Chemical Engineering Michael V. Pishko
Irma Runyon Chair in Electrical Engineering Chanan Singh, P.E.
Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation Chair in Petroleum Engineering Stephen A. Holditch, P.E.
Charles H. and Bettye Barclay Professorship in Engineering Gerard L. Coté
Electrical and Computer Engineering
J.L. “Corky” Frank/Marathon Ashland Chair in Engineering Project Management Kenneth Reinschmidt
Spencer J. Buchanan ’26 Chair in Civil Engineering Jean-Louis Briaud, P.E.
Chevron Corporation Professorship I in Engineering Don Phillips, P.E.
Industrial and Systems Engineering
J.R. Thompson Department Head Chair in Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution Walter W. Buchanan, P.E.
TEES Distinguished Research Chair Marlan O. Scully
Chevron Corporation Professorship II in Engineering Jennifer L. Welch
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution
Jack E. and Frances Brown Chair in Engineering Kenneth R. Hall, P.E. Chemical Engineering
John and Bea Slattery Chair in Aerospace Engineering Dimitris C. Lagoudas, P.E.
TEES Distinguished Research Chair Terry K. Alfriend Aerospace Engineering
TEES Distinguished Research Chair John C. Slattery Aerospace Engineering
TEES Distinguished Research Chair L.S. “Skip” Fletcher
John Edgar Holt ’27 Chair in Petroleum Engineering Hans C. Juvkam-Wold, P.E.
TI Chair in Analog Engineering Kai Chang, P.E.
L.F. Peterson ’36 Chair in Petroleum Engineering W. John Lee, P.E. Petroleum Engineering
Leland T. Jordan ’29 Chair in Mechanical Engineering Dara Childs, P.E.
Computer Science and Engineering
Dow Chemical Professorship in Chemical Engineering Yue Kuo, P.E. Chemical Engineering
E.B. Snead ’25 Development Professorship I in Civil Engineering Mark W. Burris Civil Engineering
E.B. Snead ’25 Development Professorship II in Civil Engineering Mary Beth D. Hueste, P.E.
Electrical and Computer Engineering
TI/Jack Kilby Chair in Analog Engineering Edgar Sanchez-Sinencio Electrical and Computer Engineering
Eugene E. Webb ’43 Professorship in Electrical Engineering Mladen Kezunovic, P.E.
Ford Motor Company Design Professorship I in Engineering Jo W. Howze
Wofford Cain ’13 Senior Chair of Engineering in Offshore Technology Jose M. Roesset
Electrical and Computer Engineering
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Chairs & Professorships
Royce E. Wisenbaker Professorship I in Engineering Valerie E. Taylor
Ford Motor Company Design Professorship II in Engineering Robert E. Randall, P.E.
L.F. “Pete” Peterson ’36 Professorship in Petroleum Engineering Peter P. Valko
Computer Science and Engineering
G. Paul Pepper ’54 Professorship in Mechanical Engineering Kalyan Annamalai, P.E.
Leland T. Jordan ’29 Professorship in Mechanical Engineering David E. Claridge, P.E.
Royce E. Wisenbaker Professorship II in Engineering Steven M. Wright
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Gas Processors Suppliers Association Professorship in Chemical Engineering Perla A. Balbuena
Lanatter and Herbert Fox Professorship in Chemical Engineering Jorge M. Seminario
Sallie and Don Davis ’61 Professorship Raymond J. Juzaitis
General Dynamics Professorship in Aerospace Engineering Vikram Kinra, P.E.
Mast-Childs Professorship in Mechanical Engineering Luis San Andres, P.E.
George and Joan Voneiff Development Professorship in Unconventional Resources Ahmad Ghassemi
McFerrin Professorship in Chemical Engineering Mahmoud El-Halwagi
George K. Hickox Jr. Professorship David S. Schechter, P.E.
Meinhard H. Kotzebue ’14 Professorship in Mechanical Engineering Suhada Jayasuriya, P.E.
Gulf Oil/Thomas A. Dietz Professorship in Mechanical Engineering Jerald A. Caton, P.E. Mechanical Engineering
Heat Transfer Research, Incorporated Professorship Marvin L. Adams Nuclear Engineering
Herbert D. Kelleher Professorship in Transportation Roger E. Smith, P.E. Civil Engineering
Holdredge/Paul Professorship in Engineering Education Dennis O’Neal, P.E. Mechanical Engineering
I. Andrew Rader Professorship in Industrial Distribution Daniel F. Jennings, P.E. Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution
Michael and Heidi Gatens Professorship in Unconventional Resources Duane A. McVay, P.E. Petroleum Engineering
Mike and Sugar Barnes Professorship in Industrial Engineering Wilbert Wilhelm, P.E. Industrial and Systems Engineering
Nelson-Jackson Professorship in Mechanical Engineering Gerald Morrison, P.E. Mechanical Engineering
Oscar S. Wyatt Jr. Professorship in Mechanical Engineering Andrew McFarland, P.E. Mechanical Engineering
Ray Nesbitt Professorship in Chemical Engineering Arul Jayaraman Chemical Engineering
J.W. Runyon Jr. Professorship I in Electrical Engineering A.L. Narasimha Reddy
Raytheon Company Professorship in Computer Science Robin R. Murphy
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Computer Science and Engineering
J.W. Runyon Jr. Professorship II in Electrical Engineering Aniruddha Datta
Raytheon Company Professorship in Electrical Engineering Hamid A. Toliyat, P.E.
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Electrical and Computer Engineering
James M. ’12 and Ada Sutton Forsyth Professorship in Mechanical Engineering N.K. Anand, P.E.
Rob L. Adams Professorship in Petroleum Engineering Daulat D. Mamora
Joe M. Nesbitt Professorship in Chemical Engineering Dragomir Bukur
Robert L. Whiting Professorship for Teaching Excellence in Petroleum Engineering Thomas A. Blasingame, P.E.
J. Walter “Deak” Porter ’22 & James W. “Bud” Porter ’51 Development Professorship in Engineering Tony Cahill
Robert M. Kennedy ’26 Professorship I in Electrical Engineering Mehrdad (Mark) Ehsani, P.E.
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Kenneth R. Hall Professorship in Chemical Engineering Victor M Ugaz
Robert M. Kennedy ’26 Professorship II in Electrical Engineering Shankar P. Bhattacharyya, P.E.
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Stewart & Stevenson Services Inc. Professorship I in Engineering S. Rao Vadali, P.E. Aerospace Engineering
Stewart & Stevenson Services Inc. Professorship II in Engineering William Saric, P.E. Aerospace Engineering
Tenneco Professorship Ramesh Talreja Aerospace Engineering
Thomas A. Dietz Career Development Professorship I Ibrahim Karaman Mechanical Engineering
Thomas A. Dietz Career Development Professorship II Won-jong Kim Mechanical Engineering
TI Professorship II in Analog Engineering Cam Nguyen, P.E. Electrical and Computer Engineering
TI Professorship in Engineering Prasad Enjeti, P.E. Electrical and Computer Engineering
Victor H. Thompson III Professorship in Electronics Engineering Technology Behbood B. Zoghi, P.E. Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution
W.H. Bauer Professorship in Dredging Engineering Billy Edge, P.E. Civil Engineering
Zachry Professorship for Career Development I David Trejo, P.E. Civil Engineering
Zachry Professorship for Career Development II Giovanna Biscontin Civil Engineering
Zachry Professorship in Design and Construction Integration I John Mander Civil Engineering
Zachry Professorship in Design and Construction Integration II Stuart D. Anderson, P.E. Civil Engineering
Research Facts 289,000 square feet of lab space 28 multidisciplinary research centers Superior research equipment, including: 路 Two nuclear reactors, one each for research and teaching 路 Coastal, estuarine and deepwater research facilities 路 Low-speed wind tunnel 路 Microbeam accelerator
engineeringmagazine .tam u .edu
$122 million in sponsored research awards
Federally sponsored research awards
National Science Foundation – $32m U.S. Department of Defense – $29m U.S. Department of Energy – $11m National Institutes of Health – $6m National Aeronautics and Space Administration – $4m Other Federal Sponsors – $4m U.S. Department of Homeland Security – $3m
Emerging Technologies Building State-of-the-art classrooms and interdisciplinary research labs Underwater systems electronics lab Large-scale visualization lab Wet bench labs for biomaterials, biomechanics and biomedical optics research Dry bench labs for equipment-based research Workshop facilities for fabricating prototypes
$104 million project
212,000 gross square feet
301 WISENBAKER ENGINEERING RESEARCH CENTER 3126 TAMU COLLEGE STATION, TX 77843-3126