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winter 2007



the winter 2007 magazine of the university of oklahoma’s college of engineering

Dean’s Message








University Profile






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The Howard and Suzy Kauffmann Chair in Engineering provides a generous boost to an innovative program based on the principle of students helping students.

McCASLANDS INDUCTED INTO SEED SOWER SOCIETY Tom and Phyllis McCasland officially joined the prestigious club in 2006, complete with a special presentation of their statue at a dinner in Dallas.

AIMING HIGH ABOVE THE CLOUDS Ryan East is making his dreams a reality by working at the Johnson Space Center and earning the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Award.





The OU Chapter of Engineers Without Borders takes initiative to lend a hand in under-developed regions.

The College of Engineering teams with the College of Fine Arts to create a nationally known exhibit of dancing and talking lights.


evolve University of Oklahoma College of Engineering Dean Thomas L. Landers Editor Chris Maxon Photography Chris Maxon Robert Taylor Adam Brown Design Old Hat Creative Layout Old Hat Creative


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OU spin-off company recognized as world leader in ground water remediation. It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.


There are very few telecommunications graduate programs in the country, but OU’s Tulsa campus boasts one of the best.


A colorful look back at some of the activities that took place in Norman for engineering students and faculty.


With passage of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, making charitable gifts from an IRA is an opportunity worth exploring.


The latest look at construction on Devon Energy Hall and the ExxonMobil Lawrence G. Rawl Engineering Practice Facility.






Evolve is published by the University of Oklahoma College of Engineering Communications Office. For more information, or to inquire about magazine sponsorship opportunities, contact: College of Engineering 107 Carson Engineering Center 202 W. Boyd St. Norman, OK 73019-1021 Phone: (405) 325-2621 Fax: (405) 325-7508 This publication, printed by Design Graphics, is issued by the University of Oklahoma College of Engineering. 20,000 copies have been prepared and distributed at no cost to the taxpayers of the State of Oklahoma. ©2007 University of Oklahoma. The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution. ON THE COVER: The Bion Project is a joint research venture between the College of Engineering’s Andrew Fagg and School of Art’s Adam Brown.

MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN university of oklahoma college of engineering




OU students are serving the global community, becoming better citizens and gaining valuable professional experience.



Thank you for sharing in the progress of your College of Engineering in so many ways, including reading this issue of our flagship publication. Winter 2007 Evolve includes a couple of subjects I’d like to bring to your attention: an article about our Engineers Without Borders chapter and a feature series on the telecommunications industry. Through our new chapter of Engineers Without Borders, OU students are serving the global community, becoming better citizens and gaining valuable professional experience. When addressing student groups, I usually stress our obligation to be well informed about public issues and active in the community. The engineering graduate is uniquely positioned to advocate the possibilities of technology and, even more important, practice good stewardship of technology. You are no doubt aware that water resources are a rising geopolitical issue. These students are making a difference by meeting the needs for safe drinking water. My father’s engineering education was disrupted to serve in North Africa and the Pacific theater during World War II. He returned home with a global perspective, appreciation for our freedoms and dedication to community service. I owe much for the lessons he learned and passed on to me. How thankful I am that our EWB students have the opportunity to build those same values in peaceful pursuits. Continuing on the theme of technology, you can read a series of features on telecommunications – a technology that continues to change our way of life and make the world smaller. You will meet OU alumni who are true pioneers in this field. You also will learn more about our TCOM graduate program on the OU-Tulsa campus. I had the opportunity this fall to attend the TCOM Reunion at the Schusterman Center. It was a great time to meet our graduates. They are changing Oklahoma by commercializing technology and starting up new companies. The TCOM program also is setting the pace for our college in producing doctoral candidates. These graduates are ideally suited to fill the coming faculty shortages in engineering because of their technical expertise and rich industry experience. This Evolve is faithful to its name – changing to better serve our community. As such, we are adapting the college’s branding to capitalize on our professional mission and institutional heritage. And, because Evolve is our main vehicle of communication with alumni and friends, we will continue to search for new and interesting ways to use its pages to share that mission. Between issues, the college Web site will serve your one-stop shopping needs for up-to-date news and information. I encourage you to go there often. Click on the latest News / Announcements and view live-cam images of our construction project. We also eagerly seek your comments and suggestions. Sincerely,




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Feng Lai

Feng Lai has been elected a Fellow in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The honor is in recognition of his exceptional engineering achievements and contributions to the engineering profession. There are more than 100,000 ASME members, but only 2,600 have earned the membership grade of Fellow. ASME is a professional organization focused on technical, educational and research issues of the engineering and technology community. Its mission is to promote and enhance the technical competency and professional well-being of its members and better enable its practitioners to contribute to the well-being of humankind. In addition to his duties in the classroom, Lai also is director of the Heat Transfer Lab, which has earned many honors and awards on campus and nationally.



DAVID SABATINI, David Ross Boyd Professor, Sun Oil Company Chair, Civil Engineering and Environmental Science David Sabatini received the Japanese Oil Chemist Society’s 2006 Lectureship Award in Tokyo. The award was given during the organization’s annual meeting held in September. Sabatini’s plenary lecture at the meeting was titled, “Advanced Surfactant Microemulsions: Technology Development and Application.” While in Japan, Sabatini also gave an invited talk at the annual meeting of the Japanese Chemical Society: Colloid Division in Sapporo, and invited lectures at two Japanese Chemical Companies, Shisheido and Kao, in the Tokyo area. According to the group, the origin of JOCS dates back to 1951, when it was established as the Oil Chemists’ Society, Japan. In 1954, the society was registered officially as a public service organization under its current name with the objective of “contributing to the advancement of science and technology on oils, fats, surfactants, petrochemicals, biochemicals and related substances through working to bring members of the society close together.”


Kanthasamy Muraleetharan

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Kanthasamy Muraleetharan was elected a Fellow in the American Society of Civil Engineers. According to ASCE guidelines, the position of Fellow is the second-highest membership grade, after that of Honorary Member. The organization awards the title to those “who shall have demonstrated a broad responsibility for engineering work of major importance. Fellows have attained leadership roles within the fields of civil engineering practice, research or academia.” ASCE was founded in 1852 and represents more than 140,000 members of the civil engineering profession worldwide. Its mission is to provide essential value to members, their careers, partners and the public by developing leadership, advancing technology, advocating lifelong learning and promoting the profession.



SOONER RACING TEAM The Sooner Racing Team brought home two trophies, including the top student driver award, after their first competition through the Sports Car Club of America. Nearly 1,200 racers competed in 34 categories at this year’s SCCA Solo Nationals meet held in September in Topeka, Kan. OU’s squad had four drivers racing in the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers class, which featured 20 of the top teams around the country. Matt Brown, the team’s vice president and chief engineer, finished sixth in the FSAE race, while Kyle Walther earned a second-place finish. Because the winning driver also races as a professional, Walther received the Bob Woods Cup, which is awarded to the highest-finishing student participant. The racing team, and their 2007 car, will again compete in the FSAE competition in Detroit this spring. They will do so under the tutelage of Zahed Siddique, who replaces Kuang-Hua Chang as faculty adviser. Siddique also has served as an adviser for the college’s human-powered vehicle team. For more information on the Sooner Racing Team, visit their Web site at


university of oklahoma college of engineering

Daniel Parrott received a $700 Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society prize at the 2006 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The Intel ISEF is the world’s largest pre-college science fair, and Parrott, of Bartlesville, Okla., earned the award for his project, “Creating an Online Study Session Network.” The fair was held in Indianapolis with more than 1,400 students from around the globe competing for scholarships, tuition grants, internships, scientific field trips and the grand prize – a $50,000 college scholarship. Students compete in 15 categories that represent all branches of the sciences, with projects that represent their own original works. Only nine students received cash awards from the IEEE Computer Society. Five were first- through third-place individual winners, and the remaining four shared first- and second-place team awards.


Daniel Parrott

TRISTAN BARUTH, SENIOR, COMPUTER SCIENCE CHRISTINE TANNEHILL, SENIOR, ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING Tristan Baruth and Christine Tannehill were among four OU students selected to receive Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarships through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The scholarships carry an award of up to $8,000 each. Both Baruth, of Manhattan, Kan., and Tannehill, of Elizabethtown, Ky., also are studying meteorology for their undergraduate degree. The awards are named in honor of Senator Hollings (D-S.C.), who championed the creation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and was among the most vocal of ocean advocates during his 36 years in Congress. The scholarships are given annually to accredited college or university students interested in oceanic or atmospheric science, research, technology and education. The purpose of the program is to increase public understanding and recruit and prepare students for public service careers or careers as educators in oceanic or atmospheric science. Students are required to complete a 10-week summer internship and attend the Hollings Scholarship Program conference at the completion of the internship. The program is administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Charles de Granville and William Dabney were given honorable mention recognition in the Computing Research Association’s Outstanding Undergraduate Award competition. CRA’s award program recognizes undergraduate students in North American universities who show outstanding research potential in an area of computing research. Dabney, of Norman, and de Granville, of Edmond, Okla., were nominated by OU’s School of Computer Science faculty and were among only 48 males honored (there are separate awards for male and female students). The award committee looks for demonstrated excellence of computing research ability. Quality of students’ research is of major consideration, but the committee also looks at academic record and service to the community. CRA was formed in 1972 as the Computer Science Board, which provided a forum for the chairs of Ph.D.-granting computer science departments to discuss issues and share information. It has grown into a membership of more than 200 North American organizations active in computing research. CRA seeks to strengthen research and advanced education in computing and allied fields.





J.R. Cruz

Mallory Moore has received a $1,000 scholarship from the Greater Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar. The scholarship is awarded annually to one undergraduate woman pursuing a career in transportation. Moore, from Plano, Texas, was selected over applicants from colleges and universities all over north Texas, east Texas and Oklahoma. The scholarship is based on applicants’ specific transportation involvement and goals, job skills and academic record. According to the WTS, the scholarship was created to foster the development of women in the transportation field by encouraging bright new professionals to undertake careers in transportation. Moore’s application now will be forwarded to WTS National for consideration of a larger scholarship check. The national undergraduate award is for $2,000 and is based on the same criteria as the local one. In addition to Moore’s award, a University of Oklahoma student also earned the Wanda J. Schafer Graduate Scholarship from the DFW WTS. The $1,500 award was given to Charu Ohja, a city and regional planning graduate student.

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J.R. Cruz has been named editor of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Transactions on Magnetics. In this position, Cruz will be responsible for signal processing and coding for magnetic recording. The journal has one editor in chief and several editors, such as Cruz, responsible for different technical areas. Transactions on Magnetics publishes 12 issues per year containing articles in five different categories: classics in magnetics, advances in magnetics, contributed papers, letters and selected conference papers. The IEEE is the world’s leading professional association for the advancement of technology. Through its global membership, the IEEE is a leading authority on areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics, among others.




Bobbie Foote

Bobbie Foote has been awarded an Outstanding Civilian Service Medal from the U.S. Army for his service as a professor at the United States Military Academy. Foote joined the USMA’s Department of Systems Engineering faculty in 2001 as a visiting professor and nationally recognized expert in operations research. He retired from OU in 1997 after a nearly 40-year association with the university. Foote’s award cites his “exceptionally meritorious service as a professor in the Department of Systems Engineering at the United States Military Academy. Dr. Foote has contributed immeasurably to all dimensions of mentoring and leader development for cadet education and faculty development. His professionalism, outstanding dedication to duty and selfless service reflect great credit upon himself, the United States Military Academy and the United States Army.” Foote retired from the USMA in May, 2006, gathering a number of honors during his service. In addition to the civilian service award, he also was commended by PEO Soldier for his research on battery life, contributed some of the theory of the new Army readiness system of matching readiness and capability, developed the mathematics that validated the value of virtual training in tanks and was responsible for obtaining the first patent for the department. During his career in OU’s School of Industrial Engineering, Foote served as department head on two separate occasions for a total of eight years. In Norman, he also was the recipient of the 1984 Merrick Foundation teaching award, a finalist for the Edelman Prize in 1988 for the design of the new Tinker Air Force Base production system and elected to be a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engineers. Bob and his wife, Sharon, have been married for 37 years and now reside in Colorado Springs, Colo.

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The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has named Stamatios Kartalopoulos to the grade of Fellow effective Jan. 1. Kartalopoulos, a Williams Professor in telecommunications networking systems, is a member of the OU-Tulsa Telecom program’s faculty. The IEEE grade of Fellow is conferred by the Board of Directors upon a person with an extraordinary record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. Kartalopoulos received his honor for “contributions to digital broadband transmission, to digital communications control and to advanced optical communications systems and networks.” IEEE is considered the world’s leading professional association for the advancement of technology. The group has

over 365,000 members, including 68,000 students, in more than 150 countries around the globe. Kartalopoulos also is serving as co-chairman for the World Scientific and Engineering Academy and Society’s 2007 world conference in Crete Island, Greece, in July. The conference is the official meeting of all WSEAS groups. He will also be serving as plenary speaker for a different WSEAS conference set for December in Cairo, Egypt. Kartalopoulos joined the OU-Tulsa faculty in 2002. Throughout his professional career, which included 22 years with Bell Laboratories, he has authored more than 60 research papers, seven books, two of which are translated in Chinese, and he holds more than a dozen patents.


Joseph “Joebob” Havlicek, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering When Joe Havlicek left the East Coast to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Texas and having only known fictional characters named Joebob, he thought it would be funny to have his UT e-mail identify him as Joebob for his friends and family back home. Needless to say, the name stuck and colleagues around the country know him by his nickname. He now calls Oklahoma home, the name still fits, and this engineering professor really loves his music.

JOE began studying individual applied trumpet

at the local university in the seventh grade. There was little question in his mind that he would be a music major when the time came to attend that same university. Then his father intervened with a mindset that altered a career path but kept him in the good graces of family. “My dad said, ‘So, are you going to be a music major or are you going to be on the will?’” said Havlicek about his subsequent entry into Virginia Tech University and his decision to give electrical engineering a try. “I thought I would go and get an engineering degree in electrical engineering, focus on recording technology, make him happy, and then go on to music school. What I didn’t know was we don’t do that stuff in electrical engineering anymore. Places like the University of Massachusetts or the University of Miami have recording engineering degrees, but nobody else does. I was too stubborn to quit, stuck with engineering and that killed the music pretty much.” It didn’t actually kill the music as much as it just muted it. While at UT, Havlicek played guitar professionally with a couple of bands that were active in some of the top venues in Austin. Upon his move to Oklahoma in December of 1996, he immediately began looking for a band to join up with.

Cosmic Seed is currently in “hiatus” as they search for a new drummer, but their guitar player with the Ph.D. refuses to be out of the music scene for long. He has talked to some local musicians about possible projects in the meantime. Music major or not, he sums up his interest quite well - “I’ll definitely be playing.” Cosmic Seed’s music can be found through a link at Havlicek’s Web page, The band’s site features MP3s of some of their songs.

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While searching the “musicians wanted” ads, he came across a group named Cosmic Seed. He joined the band and has been a fixture on stages across Oklahoma City, Norman and Tulsa ever since. While Havlicek is the band’s guitar player, he also has played bass, keyboards, trumpet and flugelhorn professionally.



university of oklahoma college of engineering

Kauffmann gift enhances mentoring program


Looking back on a successful career as president with the Exxon Corp., Howard Kauffmann no doubt did his fair share of mentoring along the way. Leading a world-renowned company lends itself to such opportunities, known or otherwise. Now in retirement, it’s OU engineering students who will benefit from his generosity and willingness to give back. The Howard and Suzy Kauffmann Chair in Engineering honors Kauffmann and his wife for their $1 million gift to the College of Engineering and an innovative program based on the idea of students helping students. The Kauffmann Chair will be targeted toward a faculty member in support of the Dean’s Leadership Council, a group of the top engineering sophomores, juniors and seniors. In this role, the students receive formal training in mentoring, tutoring and recruiting new engineering students for a more seamless transition into the college’s programs. As OU alumni – Howard is a 1943 mechanical engineering graduate, Suzy graduated in 1945 – the Kauffmanns were eager to get involved with their alma mater in some way. The idea of expanding and enhancing a program like engineering’s DLC turned out to be a perfect fit. “We were looking for a reason to give back in some way,” said Howard Kauffmann. “The DLC program was suggested and it was exactly what attracted us to make the gift.” To maximize the gift, the Oklahoma State Regents Endowment Program provides matching funds for these types of contributions, thus inflating the endowment’s value to $2 million. The DLC was started in 2002 as a student-to-student peer mentoring program matching upper-class engineering students with freshmen just beginning their academic careers. What makes the leadership council effective, and prestigious, is the fact that upper-class students are selected based on a stringent set of qualifications. Among the factors for participation are academic records, motivation and leadership potential. Once selected, these students become role models and the face of engineering for those beginning college or still deciding which school to attend.

“We depend on our DLC team for a variety of tasks. For the new students, it’s oftentimes more comfortable to hear from a fellow student rather than a faculty member about what to expect from their educational experience,” said Tom Landers, College of Engineering dean. “With that said, the Kauffmanns’ gift allows us to take this program to another level through benefits like student fellowships, grants, programming and a stipend to the faculty member overseeing the program.” From the students’ perspective, the Kauffmanns’ generosity means more imaginative and in-depth techniques to share with their young counterparts. “Right now, we are running low on budget, so this will make it a lot easier to just do a lot of the things we do,” said Ryan O’Dell, a senior and this year’s president of the DLC. “With just $50 a semester, we do little engineering projects with them and it’s hard to try and make it work and be creative with so little money. With more funding, we can do more and include even more projects.” Ironically, the Kauffmanns’ gift comes on the heels of a $5 million donation from the ExxonMobil Corp., Howard’s former employer. The company’s gift is being used to build the ExxonMobil Lawrence G. Rawl Engineering Practice Facility, which will be instrumental in the teaching and display of design/build projects from students in the college. It also will be a major tool for DLC students as they share all the great possibilities of an engineering degree with college newcomers and high school recruits. O’Dell said DLC mentors are assigned 14 students and meet with them for an hour at a time each week. Apart from the engineering projects, they also conduct tours of campus and engineering buildings, including such resource centers as the engineering library. Future tours will no doubt include the working bays of the practice facility and the work being done on race cars, human-powered vehicles and so much more.

“We were looking for a reason to give back in some way,” said Howard Kauffmann. “The DLC program was suggested and it was exactly what attracted us to make the gift.”


Engineering Dean Tom Landers (left) with Phyllis and Tom McCasland Jr. during their Seed Sower presentation. Tom and Phyllis McCasland officially joined the prestigious Seed Sower Society in 2006 with a special presentation of their Seed Sower statue, which was designed by OU Sculptor-in-residence Paul Moore. Joined by the deans, directors and special guests of the College of Engineering, the McCaslands were honored for their $1 million in total gifts to OU during a dinner at the Stonebriar Hotel in Frisco, Texas. Tom McCasland Jr. had a long and distinguished career in Oklahoma’s banking and oil and gas industries, including his position as chairman of Mack Energy Co. After graduating from OU (B.S. Petroleum Engineering, 1956), McCasland served in the U.S. Navy for three years before joining Mack Oil Co. in 1959. McCasland has been involved in a number of projects with the university, including being a founder of the Sarkeys Energy Center and an OU Foundation trustee (19862003). He also has served on the Reach for Excellence Committee, Bizzell Library Board, College of Engineering Board of Visitors, Energy Center Board of Visitors, Oklahoma Museum of Natural History Campaign Committee,

Sarkeys Energy Center Board of Directors and OU Press Board of Visitors. McCasland’s commitment to his community is equally impressive. He serves as a trustee of the McCasland Foundation and on the boards of BancFirst and Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association.  He is former chairman of Security National Bank & Trust Co. and AmQuest Financial Corp., former board member of the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce & Industry, former member of the Oklahoma Heritage Association Board of Directors, past chairman and co-chair of the Duncan Regional Hospital and Fund Drive and past president of United Way - Duncan.  In addition, he is a member of the American Petroleum Institute, Jaycees, Rotary Club, Society of Petroleum Engineers and Duncan Chamber of Commerce. He has been recognized for his many contributions with the OU Distinguished Achievement Award, OU Regents Alumni Award, OU Alumni Association Guy Brown Award, Duncan Jaycees Outstanding Citizen Award, Duncan Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year Award and Stephens County Bar Association Liberty Bell Award.

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[Into the Wild, Blue Yonder]

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Ask any woman in the College of Engineering about her career goals and aspirations and you’re bound to be impressed. Scientists, astronauts, engineers, teachers — they’re all here. Then there’s Kelli Manchev: a fighter-pilot-to-be — for a country already at war. Manchev is well aware of world events but doesn’t flinch when asked about her involvement overseas. “Three to five years from now, I want to be flying fighter planes. Wherever that takes me, it takes me.” While there are no guarantees that she’ll graduate from pilot training, it would be hard to imagine her life turning out any other way. Both of her parents have had military careers, along with her grandfather and now, her brothers. Manchev also has spent a great deal of her time at OU with the Air Force’s ROTC program, where she has been quite successful. Starting with the Commanders Leadership Scholarship she received out of high school, the list of accomplishments and honors she has earned through AFROTC has become increasingly lengthy. With what little time she has left from her engineering coursework, she has managed to be active in the community through the AFROTC’s Arnold Air Society. The service-oriented organization participates in the adopt-a-street program, Relay For Life, feed the firemen and POW/MIA memorial events, among others. After graduation, Manchev plans to wait about a year before starting Introductory Flight Screening, followed by pilot training. The undergraduate portion of the training takes a year before moving on to the type of aircraft she actually will be flying. Beyond that, she knows her mechanical engineering degree will be very useful in whatever opportunities come her way. “I think it will benefit me in the study habits I’ve learned. It takes a lot of time management and a lot of hard work to get through engineering classes. Having that discipline will help me in pilot training,” Machev said. “Having the mechanical engineering degree, and I can always get a master’s too, but having a technical master’s, I can go to test pilots school. That’s something I’ve looked at down the line, then maybe becoming a general in the Air Force one day.”


MANCHEV mechanical engineering



[An Engineer Without Borders]


toohey civil engineering


university of oklahoma college of engineering

There’s a reason Ian Toohey’s favorite part about being an OU Ruf-Nek is the travel. In his time with the spirit organization, Toohey has followed the Sooner football team to bowl games in New Orleans, Miami and San Diego. Of course, Dallas, Kansas City and Lincoln, Neb. also have been highlights for this student who has certainly made the most of his college experience, on and off campus. Whether he’s supporting his Sooners or under privileged people in Central America, Toohey enjoys travel. As a part of OU’s Engineers Without Borders chapter, he spent part of last summer working on a project in Honduras and soon will be visiting Guatemala to prepare for this summer’s work in that country (see story on pages 14-15). One day, he plans to join the Peace Corps and again travel to regions where community development, education and health issues are a major concern. “There are very few engineers in the Peace Corps,” said Toohey. “Most aid organizations do not employ technical staff, purely for monetary reasons. If you are in the technical area and you work full time for one of these organizations, you are either already very wealthy or just very dedicated to the cause.” Count Toohey among the dedicated group, especially when you consider he is working toward a minor in international studies, with a concentration on Latin America. For that reason, he hopes his Peace Corps assignment falls somewhere in that region, although he will happily go wherever he is asked. His plan for now is to graduate in May, finish his master’s work the next year (he is in civil engineering and environmental science’s accelerated program), then gain some design experience as a professional in the next five years. After that, he will sign up with the Peace Corps and use his technical expertise for the greater good of a developing country. Since volunteers only are required to work for two and a half years, with an option to continue, Toohey still will have time to fulfill his professional aspirations back in the United States. His biggest dream is to one day become Secretary of the Interior, the ultimate job for a civil engineer, he says. Even if he doesn’t make it to that position, he still wants to work in the public arena at the federal level. You can bet there will be some travel involved.

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I am highly impressed with Rya motivation, tenacity and persiste in chasing his dreams.

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Photo provided by NASA

Aerospace student learning by doing and earning a $10,000 Award from Astronaut Scholarship Foundation along the way

Ryan’s istence

tributed to refurbishing a German Jumbo-004 jet engine. The foundation selected students who exhibited exceptional performance in the science or engineering field of their major for the prestigious scholarship. The recipients then were notified by a personal letter from the astronauts that they had been selected for the foundation’s Howard Benedict Memorial scholarship award for the 2006-07 academic year. Haise, a member of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation – a nonprofit organization established in 1984 by the six surviving members of America’s original Mercury astronauts – said that the foundation “is a way for me and my fellow astronauts to give back to a country that has afforded us an extraordinary opportunity. “It is vital that America remains a technological leader in the world and that responsibility rests upon future generations, particularly students like Ryan,” added Haise, who earned his bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1959 from OU. Haise was one of 19 selected by NASA in its fifth class of astronauts in April 1966. He was backup Lunar Module pilot for the Apollo 8 and Apollo 11 missions before being named to that slot on the Apollo 13 crew. That team struggled for more than three days to return to Earth after an oxygen tank explosion aboard the spacecraft aborted the mission as it approached the moon in 1970. Subramanyam R. Gollahalli, Lesch Centennial Chair and director of the OU School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, said, “I am highly impressed with Ryan’s motivation, tenacity and persistence in chasing his dreams. I see great contributions to the aerospace engineering field in Ryan’s future.” An honors student, East also is the recipient of a Commencement Sooner Heritage Scholarship for the 2006-07 academic year. Last year, he was inducted into Sigma Gamma Tau national aerospace honors society. The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation was launched 22 years ago when the Mercury 7 astronauts agreed they needed to aid the United States in its pursuit of technological advancement. Since that time, more than 70 astronauts from the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Shuttle programs have joined the Mercury astronauts in this endeavor. The foundation has awarded more than $2.3 million in scholarships to 211 students nationwide since 1985.

university of oklahoma college of engineering

Since he was 10 years old, Ryan East has wanted to be a flight controller for NASA, but it was Hollywood, not Cape Canaveral, that hooked him. Commercials for the movie Apollo 13 piqued his interest, so he asked his father to take him. He walked out of the theater a child on a mission: he was going to learn as much as he could about the space program so he could one day take his seat at mission control. The movie had that profound of an impact. “We love to travel, and my dad took me to Kennedy Space Center when I was little,” said East. “I was totally uninterested, which makes this all so hilarious. I remember thinking ‘what’s all this rocket stuff?’ “Later, I started asking Dad, ‘can we go see Apollo 13?’ and he took me to see it and when I saw the folks in mission control, I knew that’s what I wanted Ryan East, left, and Fred Haise pose to do.” with East’s scholarship check. His ambition, coupled with recognition from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, has East getting closer and closer to that dream. This fall, East was awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the foundation and, ironically, it was Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise who made the presentation. Haise was a member of the crew that later was immortalized by the motion picture. He shared his experience of life on a spacecraft during a lecture that preceded East’s check presentation in Oklahoma Memorial Union’s Molly Shi Boren Ballroom. The award will be applied toward East’s continuing education at OU. The junior from Greenwood, Ark., earlier was named a Cooperative Education Student with NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. He will return to NASA this year for his fourth and final tour, preparing for what he hopes will be a career at the organization where he has always wanted to work. Because of his efforts with the co-op program, that is a very real possibility, considering NASA hires an extremely high percentage of those types of students. While assigned to the Johnson Space Center, East has worked at the Cargo Integration and Operations Branch within the Mission Operations Directorate. There, he worked on safety constraints aboard the International Space Station, developing a reference document containing graphics and location maps. Subsequently, he worked in the Mission Control Center. As a freshman, he con-

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Engineering group takes the lead in assisting underdeveloped regions

Engineers Without Borders members pose with representatives of PBS&J. group will travel to the Guatemalan town of La Pradera del Quetzal Patulul to help produce a way to get safe and clean drinking water down from an uphill source. In making these trips, EWB works with the non-profit group Living Water International. Living Water has developed a special type of drilling equipment that is light enough to fit on the back of a pickup truck so it can be taken to remote areas like La Pradera. Unfortunately, the limitation of the lightweight equipment is that it isn’t effective in rocky soil, which is exactly what this community has in its foothill location. Therefore, the simple wells that Living Water usually install won’t be enough this time. The students and their faculty adviser, David Sabatini, will be making the trip to Guatemala to find a way to get water from the springs on higher ground in a way that won’t contaminate it on the way down. A small group, including Toohey and Sabatini, made an initial assessment trip in January to survey and get a better understanding of the situation. “The actual design of the project has already started,” said Toohey. “The initial trip is to just do a health survey of the village, try to figure out things like the yield we can expect from the springs, the population of the village, what their water use is now and try to do some surveying to try and fill in some of the gaps in the design. “We’ll come back, finish the design in the spring and then travel to the village in the summer. We’ll probably take around eight people in the summer, depending on how big the project ends up being.” To make such trips, there is an obvious need for students to have funding for airfare and a limited amount of expenses while they are living amongst the locals. Toohey said air travel is the biggest expense because they stay and eat with the people they serve, who are overwhelmed by the $10 or so they are paid daily by the students for their hospitality. A big help in generating dollars for the organization came in the form of a $3,000 donation from the engineering firm PBS&J during the fall semester. The firm felt the OU club fell right in line with their support of charities and organizations with initiatives that promote education and relief for individuals and communities. “EWB-OU is an organization that can do a lot of good, but because it’s so new to OU, it needs help to grow,” said J.D. Christiansen, a PBS&J designer and member of OU’s EWB. “Engineers should use their expertise to inspire and help others all over the world. That’s what I believe, what PBS&J believes and what EWB believes. It was only natural that the organizations should work together. A lot of good is going to come from this partnership.” For more information on OU’s EWB chapter, visit their Web site at www.

university of oklahoma college of engineering

Americans often take for granted the simplicity of microwave ovens, automatic dishwashers and a tall glass of water from the refrigerator’s chilled dispenser. While we have become quite accustomed to such luxuries, it’s often hard to believe there are some areas where washing clothes means working up a sweat in the process. Students involved in the OU chapter of Engineers Without Borders not only recognize the plight of these people, they embrace the idea of helping them. While clean drinking water and adequate infrastructure still can be hard to find in some areas of the United States, a large number of communities in Central America live in conditions unknown to so many in our country. In both cases, OU’s EWB wants to provide aid in the best way they know. “The idea behind Engineers Without Borders is to give an influx of new ideas and technical knowledge alongside the traditional aid organizations that are not able to employ people with these skills,” said Ian Toohey, EWB president. In other words, aid organizations that try to help by bringing in water or other supplies for people who can’t get to it themselves are only able to do so much because they lack people with the technical expertise to get more permanent changes in place. Enter the engineering students, who bring both a passion for helping and the knowledge to get things done. The OU portion is a chapter of Engineers Without Borders, USA, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that established the original line of thinking. OU’s club was formed in 2005, but already is making quite an impact in their local community and far beyond. Last summer, some members of the OU EWB chapter successfully made their first trip in the name of establishing improvement for a community desperately in need. The village of La Ceiba, Honduras, once was connected to the regional hospital by a series of footbridges. A serious accident led to the closure of this access and the people were forced to make a long, uphill climb on a dirt road around a ravine that the bridges once crossed. For someone in need of medical attention, it obviously was a journey not easily taken. The OU contingent made their journey to begin the process of rebuilding those bridges and working with a professional engineer in the design and implementation of the new structures. “One of the biggest obstacles in getting that project done is actually getting supplies down there,” said Toohey. “All of the design phase has been completed; the supplies are now getting down there slowly because we have to wait for a container ship to bring everything down. Once everything is down there, local construction will take place.” As helpful and rewarding as the Honduras project was, this year’s project will be equally valuable for the people benefiting from OU’s generosity. A larger

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university of oklahoma college of engineering

Bion project features mix of two disciplines not commonly seen

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We all know what happens when that pesky chirping cricket look at it in the same way as the emergent behaviors we see with won’t shut up at two o’clock in the morning somewhere in our house. animals like ants, birds or ducks. You see a flock of birds flying You identify the area where he’s stationed, turn on a light or open together and it really looks like one mind is controlling the whole a door, and the thing immediately shuts up, leaving you to search group.” high and low for a glimpse at the source of your sudden insomnia. How each individual unit communicates its action to the one Without the frustration, two OU professors have created beside it also can be compared to the work of the human brain. behaviors very similar in the form of computer processors There, thousands of neurons each have their own function, but contained in plastic. The fascinating display is known as Bion and in the big picture it’s their work together that is able to produce is bringing a whole new meaning to interactive art. things like memories and thoughts. As many as 1,000 pieces of the computerized sculptural forms Looking at it from this perspective gives greater hang at varying lengths from ceiling tiles. They are equipped with understanding into artificial intelligence and how teaching a blue light and the ability to task to a robot or computer chime in a number of different is ultimately dependent upon patterns. Where the display every part’s ability to contribute differs from your typical lighttheir one function to the task and-sound exhibit is that the as a whole. forms actually “sense” their Fagg, who does extensive surroundings and communicate research into robotics and to one another. machine learning, says for a The installation is the computer to, say, pick up a result of collaboration between ball and move it to another Andrew Fagg, associate location, it must have “fingers” professor in the School of to grasp the ball and “tell” the Computer Science, and Adam “hand” it is ready to lift. They Brown, assistant professor must both do the same with in the School of Art. The Bion the torso portion so it can pivot A look at Bion through the glass at Long Island University’s Tilles Center. project is not only something the object to the new location. neat to look at; it also explores While the real-world the relationship between humans and artificial life. impact of artificial intelligence and Bion’s role in giving a visual Like the example of the chirping cricket, all the forms might example is impressive, the “wow factor” of the exhibit already has be brightly lit with their individual blue lights and chirping away been shared in a number of locations. like 1,000 crickets in the same room. However, when a person Before the technology even was complete, Brown sold the idea enters one unit’s personal space, it becomes quiet and dark as if to some fellow members of the prestigious New York Sculptors scared by the unfamiliar visitor. That behavior signals the units Guild. The result was an invitation for display at that group’s next to it to do the same and their behavior carries through in a exhibition, titled “Archival to Contemporary: Six Decades of the wave-like pattern until the entire display is a dark, quiet mass. Sculptors Guild.” When Brown called Fagg to inquire how long Once the display becomes accustomed to their new visitor, they it would be before the project was ready, Fagg said “about two will begin communicating again and actually respond to the months.” Brown then shared the news, adding the exhibition was actions of their guest. slated to begin in two months. At first, Brown had sketched the scheme, added blue lights In addition to its showing in New York, Bion also has made and displayed it on OU’s Norman campus. The exhibit drew rave road trips to exhibitions in Boston, Tulsa, Newark, N.J., and Ball reviews from guests and Brown was curious how the parts could State University in Muncie, Ind. The Ball State show continues begin to interact. It led him to Fagg, who was equally interested in until March 11. its creation. To learn more about Bion, visit the project Web site at www“The art portion of Bion can best be described as a scientific event,” said Brown. “On the technical end, you have to

university of oklahoma college of engineering

Photos by Adam Brown

How each individual unit communicates its action to the one beside it can also be compared to the work of the human brain.

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HAYES It was a great opportunity to meet impressive students from all over the country and really be able to tell them that OU is a great place for them.

Q. What led you to realize that a career on campus was the way to go? A. I was very involved on campus as an undergraduate, particularly my involvement in student government. My senior year, which was President Boren’s first year here, I got a chance to get to know him. I had always intended to get involved in politics in some way, to work, if possible, for a congressman or something like that. But in the spring of my senior year, I had talked to President Boren and he asked me “What are your plans?” I told him what I was thinking and he casually asked if I had ever considered working at the university. I honestly had not specifically thought about that, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized

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what a tremendous experience I had here. So I actually followed up on that to see if he was just being nice or if he indeed had something in mind. It just so happened that there ended up being a position that opened up in his office, so I jumped at the chance. I graduated in May 1995, got married in June and started a week later working in the president’s office. Q. What were some of your first responsibilities? A. My first specific responsibility was to direct the President’s Action Line. It’s really a central phone number you can call on campus to troubleshoot. Alumni, faculty, staff, students, citizens of the community, whoever it might be, if there’s something they feel hasn’t been satisfied

Know someone considering the University of Oklahoma as a possibility for higher education? There are plenty of questions to be asked when making such a big decision, but chances are, Craig Hayes knows the answers. The former head of OU’s National Scholars Program, Hayes now is the executive director for Recruitment Services and is enjoying every bit of the job. A 1995 political science graduate from Newkirk, Okla., Hayes says his experience as an undergraduate was tremendous and has great relevance when showcasing the Norman campus to prospective students. He recently visited about his career path, the responsibilities he has now and how selling OU is such an easy thing to do. or if they just have comments they’d like to share about the university, it’s a central resource for them. Among some other duties, it was my primary responsibility and it was a tremendous learning experience. You learn a little about the academic side, you learn a lot about financial aid and the scholarship process, the bursar’s office and billing – it really runs the gamut of issues. It was also great for me to meet so many people, primarily on the telephone, but the more I talked to these people it would lead to meetings in person. I learned so much about the University of Oklahoma in an entirely new way. Q. What was it that led to your involvement with the National Scholars Program and the recruitment element for the university? A. When I originally asked the president about the possibility of working on campus, he had asked what might be areas of my interest. I had mentioned recruitment as something that would be natural; I loved my experience, I could talk about that with anyone. Also coming from a small town – I graduated from a high school class of 38 – I remember my apprehensions about the University of Oklahoma. Could I make it there even though it’s the place I always wanted to

be? I felt like I had a story to be shared that I not only did it, but also had such a great experience here. So after I had been working in his office for about a year, he decided to greater emphasize the National Merit recruitment and added a position with the National Scholars Programs. When he asked if I’d be interested in getting into recruitment (with that position), I jumped at the chance. I ended up working there for 10 full years and a little over five of those years I directed that program. Q. You were obviously correct in knowing that recruitment was a good fit for you. What impact did your work with National Scholars have on you as a professional? A. It was a great opportunity to meet impressive students from all over the country and really be able to tell them that OU is a great place for them. It was also great to see the university be successful in that recruitment effort and in retaining those students. That’s one of the most rewarding parts of that job – it’s the only department within recruitment that also has a specific retention function. You get to work with high school seniors and their families and, for those who enroll, you have already established that relationship so you can continue to connect with them once they’re on campus. (* OU is number one per capita among public universities in the enrollment of National Merit Scholars). You get that interaction with a very high-caliber student, but it’s very personal interaction with them and their families. That was great fun. Q. With that experience, what led to your interest in the position you hold today, overseeing a number of other recruitment efforts? A. Even though I had a lot of experience with National Merit recruitment and retention efforts, there’s so much to learn. It’s always evolving with a number of issues, whether it’s cost or scholarships or admission requirements, all these things out there. It’s been rewarding in a different way, trying to help keep recruitment efforts coordinated and making sure we have all the resources in place to ensure OU’s success. We’re successful because President Boren is committed to the university’s success. That’s what I’ve always said; I don’t ever feel like a

salesperson, I feel like I’m showcasing the university and it sells itself. Q. What is the makeup of Recruitment Services and its people? A. We have specific departments that fall under Recruitment Services. Prospective Student Services has the largest staff. They handle general high school recruitment with people assigned to high schools in, for instance, the northwest part of the state. We also have satellite offices; there’s an office in Tulsa with a director who has recruitment responsibilities in the Tulsa metro area and the rest of Oklahoma’s northeast region is broken up into a couple of other recruiters. Our person who coordinates Native American recruitment also offices in Tulsa. In Dallas, we have two staff members and we have a full-time recruiter in Houston. The rest of the United States isn’t specifically broken up but everyone has general areas, and anyone can take a phone call or answer an e-mail no matter the region. As we discussed, the National Scholars program handles recruitment and retention of National Merit Scholars and State Regents Scholars. Diversity Enrichment Programs targets under represented minority groups and works with them and their families. As you can imagine, someone who handles the whole northwest region of Oklahoma will end up working closely with a DEP representative who might be working with a student in Enid. It’s great we’re all housed together to make efforts as coordinated as possible. We also have a great team working on our publications and Web presence and they also help out with recruiting when they are asked. Q. How does the process take place? What resources are at work to get OU to the forefront of a prospective high school student? A. There are actually a number of different things we do. First of all, we will have a representative at every “College Day” program in the state, meaning whoever covers the region where the college fair is taking place would be in attendance. More than that, and with Web sites the way they are these days, what we really stress is for our people to visit the schools, especially the top feeder schools. They connect and build relationships with guidance counselors and the students themselves.

All of our staff pitch in and help with numerous recruitment events because the most important thing is getting the students to campus. We have our annual senior preview day each November, which attracts more than 1,000 students and serves as a great preview of the university. We also offer campus tours every day of the week and all of us take turns with informational sessions with the students and their families. A recruiter really has to know a lot about the university – admissions, housing details, scholarships, financial aid and even serve as somewhat of an academic adviser in helping the student see how to reach their individual goals. Walking tours are led by our students, who really are the best recruiters because they can share their own personal experiences. Q. How would a student interested in engineering get to know more about both OU and the college? A. Students make contact with us in a number of ways, whether directly, at a college fair or through a representative’s high school visit, and we try to gain information based on their academic interest. We then funnel the appropriate information to them to make sure they can gain more about their area of interest. We’ll then work closely with the College of Engineering and their staff. In my time in recruitment, engineering has always been a major player with their commitment to recruitment of high school students. That’s very true today in our relationship with Dean Landers, Simin Pulat, Matt Green, Liz Cook and many others in the different schools. We give students the information that we have and try to be as good of an expert as we can be, and then make the hand-off to the experts of the college. We want to let that person showcase the college or a degree program or research opportunity. We can’t wait until engineering’s new facilities are online because that’s what students want to know about. Many schools have engineering, but those are the types of things that really set us apart. For more information about recruitment to the University of Oklahoma, visit or call (405) 325-2151. For more information on the College of Engineering, visit www. or call the Williams Student Services Center at (405) 325-4096.

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university of oklahoma college of engineering

OU spin-off company recognized as world leader in ground water remediation

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David Sabatini, Ben Shiau, Robert Knox and Jeffrey Harwell of Surbec Environmental.

When Jeff Harwell’s children were small, he would tell them that his job was to “clean dirt.” Now that they’re older, it’s not hard for them to figure out he’s among some of the best dirt cleaners in the world. While the job goes much further than Harwell’s description, the OU engineering professor joined colleagues Robert Knox and David Sabatini in 1997 to form Surbec Environmental and further the cause of keeping everyone’s dirt clean. In the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science, Knox is the director and Ted Kritikos Professor; Sabatini is a David Ross Boyd Professor and Sun Oil Company Chair. Harwell serves as a Conoco/DuPont Professor and George Lynn Cross Research Professor in the School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering. Today, Surbec is being recognized as the leader in the surfactant industry, thanks to the company’s unique technology for such tasks as cleaning gas and oil spills that eventually seep into the ground. At its very core, these types of spills are much more difficult to remedy than the typical oil spill that we often hear about occurring at sea. “Soil contamination is one of the biggest challenges to clean,” said Ben Shiau, director of surfactant technology for Surbec and the innovator behind the company’s technological advances. “You get an oil spill on the ocean, it’s actually pretty easy to collect that oil back. With soil and groundwater, everything is underground and it’s very difficult to get all the oil out.” But Surbec has not only mastered how to get it out, they’re also doing it faster and cheaper for everyone involved. Their use and advancement of technology recently earned them the 2006 Outstanding Ground Water Project Award in Ground Water Remediation by the National Ground Water Association. The biggest association dedicated to the quality of ground water within the United States recognized Surbec and their technology as the best in cleaning, cleaning quickly and saving Ben Shiau works on a cleanup project for Surbec.

university of oklahoma college of engineering

money. It’s one thing to leave customers happy with your service, it’s quite another to have the scientific community in awe. According to Knox, it’s environmental engineering’s equivalent to winning an Oscar. So how do they do it? They use surfactants, which are the active ingredients in soap. The process starts with a treatability study at the location where a contamination has occurred. The actual remediation of the soil takes place with what is known as surfactant flushing, or soil flushing, that is injected into the ground. When it’s pulled back out, the ultimate result is removal of the contaminant from the soil and, even better, the ability to recover the surfactant and re-use it. Getting to this point took a lot of different methods throughout the industry. The first generation method, from 30 years ago, was known as “pump and treat,” where the contaminant was just pumped to the surface and dissolved out. The problem was it didn’t all move so they tried to dissolve it all out – kind of like trying to get an oil stain out of your shirt by using water only, according to Harwell. The second generation thinking was to either vacuum it out or inject air directly to try and get it out faster. Today represents the third generation of technology, and Surbec’s method stands out above a crowd of others working to find the best way of accomplishing the goal. The company’s effectiveness is being put into use in the United States and around the world. Recent and on going projects took place as close as the OU campus and as far away as Japan and Taiwan. Their ability to remediate sites is not typically hindered by the type of contaminant – they have dealt with gasoline, diesel, kerosene, styrene, heating oil and mixtures of all. “We have a big project going on in Taiwan. We’ve recovered tens of thousands of gallons of ethyl benzene under a chemical plant there,” said Harwell. It’s not just big plants where you might find the Surbec team. The local gas station, highways, parking lots and even schools can utilize the technology so accidents don’t have disastrous and long-term consequences. While the use of surfactants is a key element in everyday life with soaps and detergents, Surbec keeps its focus on the ground water and environment aspect with a mindset summarized quite simply by Harwell. “We’re the best people in the world at this and that’s what we want to focus on.” For more information about Surbec Environmental, visit their Web site at www.

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Robert Huck works with switching cables in one of many pieces of commercial telecommunications hardware.




university of oklahoma college of engineering

Advanced engineering degrees, world-class research featured at “TCOM”

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Hakki Refai works with equipment that creates 3D images from actual objects.

The staff of OU-Tulsa’s Telecommunications Program.


If the past is any indicator, the world of telecommunications is sure to continue its trend of spectacular advances in the coming years. Yet there are still technologies that have not seen the light of day in an industry driven by smaller, faster and more convenient. A program at OU’s Tulsa campus focuses solely on telecommunications and gives graduatelevel students a chance to jump into it all and work alongside some of the top researchers in the field. OU-Tulsa Telecom, better known as TCOM, is a program of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science and offers a master of science degree in telecommunications systems and a doctorate in electrical engineering. “TCOM faculty cooperate fully in guiding students at both the Norman and Tulsa campuses and conducting research in photonics and optical networking, wireless networking and telecommunications security,” said Pramode Verma, Williams Chair in Telecommunications Networking and director of the TCOM program. “The program offers courses in those fields as well as fundamentals of telecommunications that address both business and technology issues.” Along with Verma, the Tulsa offices and research labs house nine other faculty and staff members, including the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s director, Jim Sluss. Research among full-time staff ranges from transmissions of real-time, 360-degree, full-color holographic images to the renowned

Interoperability Lab that is based on a five-island configuration: Internet Protocol, Asynchronous Transfer Mode, Legacy, Optical Networking and Wireless. In the latter, the networking islands encompass all the base telecommunications technologies. Additionally, a recently installed anechoic chamber is the only one of its kind in Oklahoma and is often used by companies for testing of equipment in an environment completely shielded from outside interference. There are very few telecommunications graduate programs available to someone aspiring to enter the workforce. TCOM has provided a place where technology can continue to grow and reach new heights, even though OU has been a fantastic proving ground for some impressive professionals in the field already. In the following pages, we look at four OU alumni who have set the bar - and oftentimes raised the bar - in the telecommunications industry. Their stories, while differing in the route, are eerily similar in the impact that they’ve had on the world we live in today. All have been around to see the development of some of the greatest technological advances in the world’s history. For more information about the TCOM program at the OU-Tulsa campus, visit their Web site at university of oklahoma college of engineering

Hazem Refai stands behind the equipment in the anechoic chamber.

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John Stupka describes his career in the wireless industry as a lot of fun, seeing all types of technology come to life. One of his favorite parts is thinking back to when people thought things like cell phones would just be a passing fad. “The most interesting part was watching how the expectations evolved,” said Stupka. “In the early days, cellular was almost viewed as something that was going to be a novelty. The earliest estimates were that there would be several hundred thousand customers nationwide. “When the earliest licenses came out for the largest cities, there were very few people who actually filed for them. It was viewed that it wasn’t going to be that big of a deal.” The rest, as they say, is history. Stupka (B.S. Industrial Engineering, 1971) would certainly be one to know – he got in on the ground floor with Southwestern Bell Telephone Co.’s entry into the cellular race. In 1984, he was appointed vice president – network for the southwest region of AMPS, the AT&T organization that preceded Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems. His ascension eventually led to a spot as the company’s president and CEO. In that position, Stupka led SBMS into recognition as the cellular industry’s premier company. His stature in the industry also gave him the opportunity to help with creation of the standards for things like roaming and inter-system handoffs. “A lot of people forget that when cellular first came out, it was essentially a local service,” said Stupka. “You paid for everything you got – if you called long distance, you paid for long distance, if you roamed, you paid roaming rates. Now, it’s an anywhere, anytime form of communication.” His work in the formation of such standards led to his induction into the Wireless Hall of Fame. Stupka eventually left SBMS, though, and went to work for SkyTel, the company that began the phenomenon known as text messaging. As president and CEO, he helped the company bring its new, innovative products to market, and made SkyTel the first company to introduce nationwide paging. Eventually, SkyTel saw the need to be a part of something larger, so they sold and merged with WorldCom. It’s a decision that Stupka says “seemed like a good idea at the time.” Stupka is now the president of his own consulting company that has Cingular (now AT&T) as its primary client. He works directly with the company’s CEO and is chief of staff for that position. The role keeps Stupka involved in the industry he helped create and ensures that he remains in the middle of all the fun.

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university of oklahoma college of engineering

ALUMNI FOCUS: A DIVERSE DEGREE Vice President, Solutions Engineering

Randy Waters


Having someone identify you as the “inventor” of something just about secures your place in history for whatever that apparatus or technology may be. Even though Randy Waters thinks it’s too much to bestow such a title on him, some of his work literally has paved the way for some major changes in phone service. Waters earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from OU in 1983 and started his professional career with AT&T in Oklahoma City. This was just six months before the breakup of the Ma Bell giant, but Waters remained with the Bell Labs portion of the company. During his 12-year career there, a lot of his focus was in the area of voice-over packets, which evolved into today’s voice over the Internet. The traditional way that home telephone lines work is through two copper wires that terminate at a switch located at the phone company’s office. The switch connects phone calls between the caller and another party. New technology provides telephone service by using software that makes the whole process take place over the Internet. This new switching technology is known as the softswitch and, inventor or not, Waters played a major role in its conception. He began the work in this direction while at Bell in the late ‘80s and then actually brought it to fruition with Alcatel in 1997. “Back then, there were only a couple of the big companies and a couple of startup companies working on this technology,” said Waters. “We called it a softswitch before the industry called it a softswitch. It was early, but I won’t sit here and say I invented it. The team I led was one of the early pioneers of developing the softswitch.” According to Waters, the softswitch revolution has been prominent with companies like Vonage, which are able to offer phone service without owning a single wire in or at your house, thanks to the broadband Internet service that’s coming into most homes these days. While he certainly has been at the forefront of AT&T, Bell and Alcatel, Waters also started his own telecommunications software company in 2001, Carrius Technologies. In just the past few months, he left the company in good shape to take on a new challenge with Netcentrex. No matter where his distinguished career has taken him, Waters says there always has been one constant of the job. He estimates he has managed nearly 500 people in differing capacities through the years, with about 15 being graduates from OU’s College of Engineering. “I’ve managed people from multiple countries, universities, you name it – but I can tell you that every single OU engineer that’s ever worked for me has been among the best engineers I’ve ever worked with.”

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Co-Founder, President and CEO


“Every good startup company is built on an unmet need and there are still many unmet needs in the wireless industry.” Craig Farrill said it, and Craig Farrill has a knack for meeting needs. Even though he started Kodiak Networks in 2001, Farrill is no stranger to the telecommunications industry. In fact, there’s not much in the industry he doesn’t know. Farrill graduated from OU in 1974 with a degree in electrical engineering, but soon found he really enjoyed the management of people. By age 30, he was a vice president with Communications Industries and was their first cellular employee in a time when there was no cellular service (what he now affectionately calls BC – before cellular). “My first five years, I was involved in developing the industry in the early stages, doing license applications, competing for licenses, building systems and getting the technology actually up and operating to where we could reliably run these as a service,” said Farrill. As the new technology got set to go live, CI was very successful in their securing of licenses in five and a half of the top 10 markets. Of course, as is common in the telecommunications industry, CI was purchased by another company and during the years names changed, wireless grew and Farrill was there for all of it. There were zero cellular customers at the beginning of his career and 100 million using it when Verizon completed acquiring his employer in 2000. That same year, he entered the venture capital business and, when things went sour after 9/11, he eventually took over the operations of one of his businesses. That was 2003 and the company was Kodiak, which has emerged as a major player with advanced voice applications for wireless carriers like Cingular (now AT&T). One unmet need that Kodiak focused on was the push-to-talk technology that was first seen exclusively on Nextel phones. Now, other carriers give their customers the ability to make instant calls to one person, and Farrill’s company has also created the first group call device where one touch calls 30 people. Another technological advancement from Kodiak is the use of voice short message service, which gives the ability to leave voice messages to any phone in the world – even if it doesn’t have voicemail installed. The non-voicemail phone receives a text message with a number to call and retrieve the message. It doesn’t even stop there. Kodiak innovations are either soon-to-be or already “under-the-hood” of phones all over the world. It’s a far cry from Farrill’s early days in the business. “When I first came out to Los Angeles, there were about 14,000 users, which is almost laughable today. There’s probably 14,000 users in the mall today.”

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university of oklahoma college of engineering


Charles Foster

SBC CORP. San Antonio

When it comes to telecommunications, Charles Foster (B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 1961) has just about seen it all. He got into the industry at a time before rotary phones had saturated the country and now enjoys the fruits of his labors with the modern marvels of today’s technology. Funny thing is, it was a simple twist of fate that got him in the industry in the first place. Having served in the military, married while still in college and supporting a wife and baby, Foster had come to the end of his senior year at OU in 1961. He pondered the possibility of continuing his education through graduate school, but his wife felt the time was right for him to enter the full-time job force and start making some money. It was common practice at that time for employers to conduct on-campus interviews inside Felgar Hall, where students could sign up for the companies where they had an interest in working. While standing in the hallway during the process, a door opened and out walked the representative from Southwestern Bell, a company with which he had no interest. After a short chat, the Bell representative asked Foster to visit more, which sent him home to his family interested in the possibility of working there. Looking back, Foster strongly believes fate has a more powerful pull than the best laid plans of men. Shortly after the interview, he began his career with the phone company in Oklahoma City as a staff assistant. Forty years later, he had become one of the company’s most valuable officers, serving as president of SBC operations for SBC Communications Inc. Along the way, the Foster family made a number of moves geographically while Charles continued to serve important roles for SBC. He also oversaw the operations of several aspects of the corporation, including wireless, Yellow Pages and foreign offices. With the wealth of experience he has tucked away, Foster can finally look back in awe at all the advancements his company and industry provided since 1961. “The improvement in the quality of technology was not so surprising when I was working in the middle of it,” said Foster. “When you’re doing it every day – and this kind of technology takes a long time to produce – it’s just part of the process. “But now I am amazed at what has occurred in the past 30 or 40 years.” It may just be that the next 30 or 40 years also will have the Foster name stamped on the telecommunications industry as Patrick Foster, Charles’ son, has joined his father’s company and works in the regulatory side of the business. The fate of 46 years still is going strong.

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alumni updates 1940s

Thomas B. Albright (B.S. Electrical Engineering, 1945) has accomplished two recent milestones for an elusive world language plus two Websites on the World Future Society about the future method of world education and Space 2050. A promotion printing of his book, WurlangTM - The World Language, now is available. It includes grammar and communications and is phonetic with the words listed by sound. It also has a significant beginning dictionary to provide a realistic working vocabulary. The book is The Furst Kousin tu English. Albright’s primary Web site is at


Roy R. Craig Jr. (B.S. Civil Engineering, 1956) just published his second engineering textbook, Fundamentals of Structural Dynamics – Second Edition. His first textbook, Mechanics of Materials Second Edition, was published in 2000. Craig retired in 2001 after a 40-year teaching/research career in the aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics department at the University of Texas in Austin.


William W. (Bill) Rhoades (M.S. Mechanical Engineering, 1960) is retired after 35 years with Vought Aircaft Industries in Dallas, and has accepted a position as vice-president, business development, with Westworld Associates in San Diego.


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Xin-Ran Duan (M.S. Mechanical Engineering, 1992) has been named academic dean at Holyoke Community College in Mas-

Marcos Stocco (B.S. Computer Science, 1998) recently was elected president for the Texas Bay Area’s Ryan Mauldin professional chapter of (B.S. Electrical Engineering, 1999) the Society of Hispannow works as a power substation ic Professional Engidesign engineer for MEAG Power neers. He also received in Atlanta. Initially, Mauldin an “On the Spot” moved to Austin, Texas, and performance award worked three years as a technifrom the United Space cal writer in the semiconductor Alliance for his work manufacturing equipment indusin developing a new try. He then moved to Las Vegas, Marcos Stocco interface agreement to pursue his master’s degree while for solar array data working as a teaching and research exchange. Stocco is a flight assistant. Responding to an emercontroller, certified attitude and gency need, Mauldin also taught one pointing operations officer in the semester of high school mathematics flight planning branch in support of in inner-city Las Vegas. the Mission Control Center for both space shuttle and international space station operations in Houston. sachussetts. The school is recognized as one of that state’s top community colleges.


George C. Carver

(B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 1951) passed away March 4, 2006.

Richard “Dick” Clarke

(B.S. Chemical Engineering, 1947) passed away Aug. 4, 2006, in Dallas. Clarke joined the Army ROTC while attending OU and was called to active duty in 1943 as an artillery officer in the Rainbow Division (42nd Infantry Division). He was sent to Europe for war in 1944, assigned as an artillery observer and flew more than 200 missions over German lines in a Piper Cub aircraft. He was discharged as a first lieutenant. Following the war, he completed his bachelor’s degree from OU before moving to Little Rock, Ark., in the early 1950s. He moved to Dallas in 1963, where he finished his professional career as director of maintenance for the Dallas Water Department.

John L. Dopler

(B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 1943) passed away Nov. 28, 2005.

Bobby D. Kimberlin

(B.S. Petroleum Engineering, 1956) passed away Jan. 13. Kimberlin served in the U.S. Army in the Korean War and retired with 36 years of service from the Mobil Oil Corp.

John R. Mooney

(B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 1949) passed away Jan. 27. After serving with the U.S. Army in World War II, Mooney enrolled at OU. Following graduation, he worked for Halliburton Services as an electrical well service manager in Duncan, Okla. During his 30-year career, he spent time in several countries, including Trinidad, West Indies, Iran, Venezuela and Holland. He retired in October 1982. Those wishing to

honor him may do so by contributing to the American Red Cross or charity of their choice.

Carl E. Steele

(B.S. Civil Engineering, 1952; M.S. Civil Engineering, 1960) passed away March 4, 2006.

James Elwin Winget Jr.

(B.S. Petroleum Engineering, 1952) passed away August 3, 2006, at his home in King William, near San Antonio. Winget earned an Army commission as second lieutenant through OU’s ROTC. He was stationed in Germany and France, and after a two-year stint, left the Army as a captain. He began his lengthy career in the oil business with the Magnolia Petroleum Co., which later was acquired by Mobil Oil. After assignments in Edna, Texas, and two oilfield camps in the Permian basin, he and his family moved to Midland in 1960. There he would become district superintendent for Mobil, as well as president of the Midland Independent School District board, leading its court-ordered desegregation efforts. He also was active in politics and was a delegate to several Republican state conventions. In 1976, he moved to Houston, then the next year to the company’s headquarters in New York. In 1978, he went to Denver to become the company’s head of alternative fuels. In 1982 he and his wife, Dorothy, moved to Sumatra, where he served as manufacturing manager at one of the world’s largest liquid natural gas production facilities. Part of his legacy was to train Indonesians to replace Mobil staff. When he turned his own job over to an Indonesian executive, he became senior vice president of Mobil Oil Indonesia, based in Jakarta. He returned to Mobil’s headquarters, by then in Fairfax, Va., in 1990. Memorial gifts may be made to the University of Oklahoma Foundation James E. Winget Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund for Engineering Students, 100 Timberdell Road, Norman, OK 73019-0685; the First Baptist Church Foundation, 515 McCullough, San Antonio, TX 78205, or the Shortgrass Country Museum, PO Box 260, Sayre, OK 73662.

alumni updates The following is a letter from Charles Garrison (Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, 1972), written in response to the story “Honoring His Past, Engineering the Future,” in the summer 2006 edition of Evolve. The letter was written to Michael Miller, who was featured in the article, regarding Garrison’s admiration for Michael’s father, Frank Miller. It is reprinted here with permission from its author. Michael, I saw an article about you in the Evolve magazine from the University of Oklahoma. I assume that your father, mentioned in the article, is the Frank G. Miller that was a civilian contractor at Tinker Air Force Base and was the scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 242 in Norman. I wanted to tell you how much your father and mother meant to me and to my wife. You probably would not remember me by name, but you might remember me by history. I was the chemical engineering graduate student that showed up from Montana and asked if he needed help with Troop 242 in the fall of 1968. I worked with the troop and your father from 1968 to 1971. Your parents (and you kids) were some of the first people that my wife Gloria met when she arrived in Norman in August 1969. I remember Frank as a constant tinkerer. He called himself a “bailing wire engineer,” as he would fix nearly anything with that combination. I still do and I learned it from him. I keep a ball of wire and some needle-nose pliers in each car and several on my work bench. Your family was a joy to me and helped keep me sane as I was working on my Ph.D., particularly during the year I was in Norman by myself (I went back to Montana in August 1969 to get married). I was at your house on numerous occasions and a regular attendee at troop meetings. The pressure to get my graduate work done finally forced me to drop out of active work with the troop, but I kept an eye on it until I graduated in 1972. From there, I went into the Army as an officer and then went on to work at Procter & Gamble Co. in Cincinnati and was there for 32 years before I retired. We have two sons, Alan and Michael, who both made it to Eagle Scout (your dad helped show me that this, too, was possible). I think that we made our last trip to Oklahoma in December 2004 for our niece’s wedding and decided to drop in on your family. Someone was at the house and directed us to the Norman hospital where we found Frank and JoAnn, although he was tiring easily and was having trouble breathing. It was great to be able to visit with them for a short while. We have not heard anything about them since, but we have thought of your family often. I was very glad to see that there will be a Frank G. Miller floor at the new facility at OU (ExxonMobil Lawrence G. Rawl Engineering Practice Facility). I, too, have multiple connections with OU and with the electrical engineering department. Both my parents graduated from OU (my dad started in engineering), as did my oldest brother (electrical engineering, 1961). My grandfather, Frank G. Tappan, was one of the first professors of electrical engineering at OU. Granddad was my dad’s first, and only, engineering professor; dad decided he was not cut out for engineering after the one class. Mom later married him anyway. Please give our warmest regards to everyone. Sincerely, Charles M. Garrison

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CAREER FAIR Boasting MORE THAN 100 companies and spanning the entire concourse of the Lloyd Noble Center, the 2006 engineering career fair was deemed a success by employers and students alike. With a wide range of industries represented, engineering students were given several opportunities to visit with representatives and learn more about possible future careers. The career fair took place in conjunction with the university’s fair, located on the floor of the arena, giving engineers additional opportunities to browse, meet and greet.

HOMECOMING Following the university’s board game theme, the Engineers’ Club float, “Chutes and Ladders,” earned the top prize in the 2006 homecoming parade’s Small Group category. The club also won the category’s overall competition after finishing first in the banner contest and second in sidewalk-chalking. With dice, a board game featuring an OU football player, and a spinning wheel, the engineering float earned numerous cheers and smiles from the crowd packed along the parade route. The college also was represented by Dean Tom Landers, who rode on the back of a weather radar truck with the dean from the College of Geosciences, John Snow.

university of oklahoma college of engineering

Industrial Engineering Reunion

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IE alumni from the class of 1986/1987 gathered on Sept. 22 and 23 to catch up and enjoy life on campus for a Sooner football weekend. In addition to a Friday night mixer, tailgating and the football game, the group held a brunch and reception on Saturday morning inside Oklahoma Memorial Union. Alumni updates, slideshows and memories all were shared during the reception with the 14 participants who traveled from as far away as Morocco and Spain.


Deans and other faculty were prime targets at this year’s dunk tank in front of Carson Engineering Center. Associate Dean Musharraf Zaman (shown) took the plunge on several occasions after well-placed throws from engineering students and staff. Participants of the fall festival also were treated to the well-known engineering hamburger feed and competition in Shell’s Pit Stop Challenge. The pit stop event matched student “pit crews” in a race against the clock to change a tire on Shell’s formula one Ferrari. Held each year in September, Engineers’ Club sponsors the event and features informational booths advertising the college’s many student organizations.


Before they ever settled into the classroom, new engineering students and their parents were given a more casual look at their college just before classes began. With a free hamburger lunch, the newest engineers were treated to conversation with college faculty, administrators and fellow students in the informal gathering in front of Felgar Hall. The 2006 New Engineers Welcome was the third annual event and will take place again in August for the 2007 newcomers.

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PENSION PROTECTION ACT OF 2006 CREATES OPPORTUNITY TO UTILIZE IRAs FOR PHILANTHROPIC OBJECTIVES IN 2007 With the approval of Congress, individuals have been given a golden opportunity to make gifts from IRAs and exclude the amount of their gifts from gross income. To qualify: • • • •

The donor must be 70 and a half years of age or older; The transfers must go directly from the IRA to qualified charities; Gifts cannot exceed $100,000 per taxpayer per year; and Gifts must be outright* * Transfers of donor advised funds, supporting organizations and charitable remainder trusts and for charitable gift annuities do not qualify.

Until now, individuals withdrawing $100,000 from their IRAs and contributing it to charity would have had to include the $100,000 in their income and would have been allowed a federal charitable income-tax deduction of up to $100,000 (subject to the limits of deductibility) to offset the inclusion. From appearances, the net result was zero tax implication, but for those taxpayers unable to use some or all of the charitable deduction, the new law presents a significant opportunity. • •

• • • •

Individuals who are required to take minimum withdrawals but don’t need additional income can satisfy up to $100,000 of the distribution requirement with a transfer to charity. Individuals who usually give up to 50 percent of their adjusted gross income – the ceiling on the allowable charitable deduction for any year – can now give up to $100,000 more from their IRA accounts, which is not subject to this limitation or taxed as a distribution. This could enable taxpayers to avoid up to $35,000 ($100,000 x 35 percent) in federal income tax on IRA distributions for this and next year. Individuals who are subject to the 2 percent rule require that itemized deductions be reduced by 2 percent of AGI in excess of $150,500 for this year. Before the Pension Protection Act of 2006, a $100,000 withdrawal followed by a gift could result in the loss of $2,000 in deductions and up to $700 in tax savings ($2,000 x 35 percent). For individuals who live in states where a charitable deduction is not available for state tax purposes (check with your tax adviser), PPA 2006 can result in savings of up to $7,000 in some cases because the direct transfer of $100,000 from your IRA to charity will not show up in AGI. Individuals who do not itemize and who make a charitable gift in an amount less than the standard deduction ($10,300 for married couples, $5,150 for single filers) will benefit from a transfer directly from their IRA to charity. Individuals whose major assets reside in their IRAs will find it convenient this year to make direct transfers to charity from their IRAs without the hassle of having to report the transfer on their income-tax returns.

university of oklahoma college of engineering

This opportunity only is available for 2007. Contact Brooks Hull, director of development for the College of Engineering, (405) 325-8576, for more information about the Pension Protection Act of 2006 and how it could benefit both you and the college.

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1. NOVEMBER Devon Energy Hall basement 2. NOVEMBER Devon Energy Hall’s southwest corner 3. NOVEMBER Devon Energy Hall’s south wall

4. JANUARY Devon Energy Hall’s west wall and tunnel leading to Carson Engineering Center 5. JANUARY Devon Energy Hall’s southwest corner 6. JANUARY Devon Energy Hall’s south wall

university of oklahoma college of engineering

Construction continues on Devon Energy Hall and the ExxonMobil Lawrence G. Rawl Engineering Practice Facility. As Devon Energy Hall begins to rise from the ground, we are excited to share these photos of its progress. Floors and walls of the practice facility should begin to take shape in the coming months. For a live video look at either building, visit index.htm and click on the Web camera photos.


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university of oklahoma college of engineering 202 W. Boyd St. Carson Engineering Center, Room 107 Norman, OK 73019-1021


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