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INSIDE: A meatless burger, bike spokes reinvented, a plug for the skull, and more >>


How CSE is boldly charting the way forward




his year marks the 50th anniversary of my graduation with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. It was a tumultuous time politically, but one event tied us all together. People across the country crowded around their TVs on July 20, 1969, to witness Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. It was an amazing feat that demonstrated how science and engineering could turn one “small step” into a “giant leap.”

Today’s challenges in health care, food security, and energy are no less daunting. We need more scientists and engineers to develop solutions. This is why I have proposed that the College of Science and Engineering increase the number of incoming undergraduate students by 100 each year for the next three years. This would increase our undergraduate enrollment from about 5,500 to 6,700 within the next six years.

Photo by Rebecca Slater

The future is now The depth and strength of CSE’s undergraduate applicant pool, combined with excellent post-graduation outcomes, present opportunities to expand the student body. CSE is the organization in the state that can supply the top echelon of the science and technology workforce that employment surveys and the media have identified as necessary for Minnesota’s continued leadership in technologydependent industries. Rightsizing the University’s science and engineering programs is critical for the future of our state, nation, and world. In this issue of Inventing Tomorrow, we see many examples of how alumni, faculty, and students are driving the future. Read about how alumni are making the impossible possible through their innovations that are bigger, better, and faster. Learn how our faculty research is harnessing “smart” technologies to improve our lives. Also see how we are re-inventing education to teach

science and engineering students how to be entrepreneurs and business leaders of the future. While much of the technology seen in science fiction during my college days is still just a dream, a look around our college shows much of our research exceeds what we would have ever imagined 50 years ago. Our future is here today.

LIFE AFTER CSE Career outcomesfor the undergraduate class of 2018 77% 77% OtherOther 4%4% Industry Industry

19% 19%

Graduate Graduate SchoolSchool

94% 94%

projected increase for CSE-related occupations in Minnesota by 2026


According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development



$65,210 $65,210

83% 83%

CSE graduate CSE graduate average average starting starting salary salary

INTERNSHIP INTERNSHIPNATINOANTION RESEARCH RESEARCH AL AL of CSE of CSE graduates graduates CO-OP CO-OP reported reported training training outside outside thethe classroom classroom

49% 49% received received a joba offer job offer as as

a result a result of anofinternship an internship experience experience

% 62 % 62

projected increase for all occupations in Minnesota

National National average average $50,004 $50,004

55 RAGE: % AVE AGE: 55% R AVE


of CSE of CSE graduates graduates were employed were employed in their field in their field or attending or attending grad school grad school within 6 months within 6 months of graduation of graduation

10% 10%

Of that Of 94%: that 94%:

3 93%9 %



Summer 2019 • Vol. 44, No. 1




Dean Mostafa Kaveh

Entrepreneurial Engineers / 6

Associate Dean, Academic Affairs Ellen Longmire Associate Dean, Research and Planning Joseph Konstan Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs Paul Strykowski

EDITORIAL STAFF Communications Director Rhonda Zurn Managing Editor Pauline Oo Designer Sara Specht

Technology innovation course teaches future STEM leaders to bring ideas to market

CSE faculty develop and harness custom-fitted, connected technology When inspiration strikes or

opportunity presents itself, these alumni act—they build better, stronger, faster...


Printing University Printing Services


Inventing Tomorrow is published by the College of Science and Engineering twice a year for alumni and friends of the college. The publication is available in alternative formats for those visually impaired by calling 612-624-8257.

A  magazine is born— the evolution of a college publication



Patent-pending polymer spokes engineered by CSE graduates Charlie Spanjers, Kyle Olson, and Brad Guertin are upending traditional metal wheel spokes and improving the ride for cycling enthusiasts. Credit also goes to Regents Professor Frank Bates— it was a materials science class he offered in 2010 that inspired them to think outside the box.

Mail to Inventing Tomorrow College of Science and Engineering 105 Walter Library 117 Pleasant Street SE Minneapolis, MN 55455 Email

Printed on recycled paper



ADDRESS CHANGE? If you’ve moved, drop us a line:

Call 612-624-8257


The Impossible, Made Possible / 18

Contributors Greg Breining Susan Maas Kermit Pattison Cynthia Scott Rebecca Slater Caroline Yang

© 2019 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.


Get Smart / 12

Photo by Caroline Yang


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Photos courtesy Ghanbari et. al.

TECH DIGEST 3D-printed transparent skull provides a window to the brain

Researchers have developed a unique 3D-printed transparent skull implant for mice that provides an opportunity to watch activity of the entire brain surface in real time, giving new insight for human brain conditions such as concussions, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. Read more and watch video:

Research to shape future of quantum computing The University of Minnesota will lead a $2.25 million grant over the next three years from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science for developing materials and device knowledge necessary for creating the next generation of computing—the quantum computer. Read more:

Photo courtesy NASA/SOFIA/E. Lopez-Rodriguez; NASA/Spitzer/J. Moustakas et al.

Weighing galactic wind offers clues to evolution of galaxies New data from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) of the famous Cigar Galaxy (M82) reveals how material that affects the evolution of galaxies may get into intergalactic space. Read more:

New center will focus on novel materials for computing The University of Minnesota will lead and house a new $10.3 million Center for Spintronic Materials in Advanced Information Technologies (SMART) focused on novel materials for advanced computing systems. The center will bring together top experts in the fields of spintronic materials and device research. Read more:

University partners with African Institute for Mathematical Sciences The University of Minnesota and the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) have paired up to exchange knowledge and accelerate educational opportunities for talented African mathematicians. The University of Minnesota is one of only three universities in the United States that are full AIMS academic partners. Read more: Photo courtesy African Institute for Mathematical Sciences



Ultrasound stimulation could lead to new treatments for arthritis Researchers at the University of Minnesota, in collaboration with researchers at Medtronic, have shown that noninvasive daily ultrasound stimulation of the spleen in mice with inflammatory arthritis resulted in significantly less joint swelling compared to arthritic mice that were not treated. The research is a first step to developing new treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis. Read more:

Photo courtesy Tabdanov/ Provenzano

Photo courtesy ©Panthera

Citizen science projects have a surprising new partner— the computer Researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed new machine learning techniques that can be used in crowdsourcing projects with massively increasing amounts of data, like categorizing images from wildlife camera traps, making computers a surprising new partner in citizen science projects. Read more:

Graphene-based device is step toward ultrasensitive biosensors

Researchers stop ‘sneaky’ cancer cells in their tracks In a new study, University of Minnesota biomedical engineers stopped cancer cells from moving and spreading, even when the cells changed their movements. The discovery could have a major impact on millions of people undergoing therapies to prevent the spread of cancer within the body. Read more and watch video:

Using the “wonder material” graphene, researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed a unique device that provides the first step toward ultrasensitive biosensors to detect diseases at the molecular level with near perfect efficiency. Read more: Photo courtesy Wood, Odde, and Castle

Photo courtesy Oh Group

New measurements of sickle cell disease could help millions

U of M to lead $9.7 million hearing restoration grant

In a breakthrough study of sickle cell disease, University of Minnesota engineers have revealed that its building blocks are much less efficient at organizing than previously thought, which opens the door to new treatments for millions who suffer from the disease. Read more and watch video:

The University of Minnesota will lead a $9.7 million grant over the next five years from the National Institutes for Health (NIH) BRAIN Initiative to develop a new implantable device and surgical procedure with the goal of restoring more natural hearing to people who are deaf or severely hard-of-hearing. Read more:

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ENTREPRENEURIAL Technology innovation course teaches future STEM leaders to bring ideas to market What should the next generation of engineers and scientists look like? Ask Kirk Froggatt, CSE’s Gemini Chair in Technology Management, and he’ll say “T-shaped”—these leaders must have depth in their technical specialty (the upright stroke of the T) and the breadth of knowing a little about a lot of other subjects that make or break commercial success. “We can’t succeed by just being inventors,” he said. “We have to translate tech ideas and new combinations of ideas into customer solutions that generate economic and social value. That’s the name of the game.”



tephen Mylabathula: Prototype to market Stephen Mylabathula, who graduated this May with a computer engineering degree, had good reason to take Froggatt’s technology innovation class. Mylabathula and friends had recently invented a headband controller that a quadriplegic might use to guide a wheelchair through head movements and brain signals, instead of cumbersome blowing devices or chin-controlled joysticks. It was time to learn how to get the prototype to market.

In other words, STEM-trained professionals with knowledge of market analysis, business, regulation, and product design and development are creative people who create value from new technology. They are what companies need in the future.

“Innovation really happens at the intersection not only of technical feasibility but also market viability and customer desirability. That’s really what I learned in Kirk’s course,” Mylabathula said, when asked to spell out his key takeaway.

Froggatt, who spent 25 years in industry, teaches seminars for engineering and science majors as well as graduate programs in CSE’s Technological Leadership Institute. Recently, he offered an undergraduate course in “Leading Breakthrough Technology Innovation.” Here are three students who took the class.

Another valuable concept was “platform architecting”—brainstorming several applications that might spring from a single technology development. If one area doesn’t pan out, for technical or economic reasons, innovators can turn to another. Or one commercial development can piggyback on another.



“Now all of a sudden, you’re milking every last penny out,” Mylabathula said. “By taking the time to look at short-term, mid-term, and longterm applications of this one piece of technology, you’re able to get so much more value out of every small R&D advance that you have.” Mylabathula, a recipient of multiple scholarships including the Roger Nordby Electrical Engineering Scholarship and the Hopper-Dean Scholarship Honoring Dr. Vipin Kumar, wants to bring those lessons to his new company, Galilea Technologies—the name is based on the scientist Galileo, but also Galilee, a Biblical name with connotations of walking on water. “We’re bringing back natural mobility, a new way of transportation and mobility for wheelchair users,” he said. “So maybe if it’s not as cool as walking on water, for these people it might be that big of a change for them.” The wheelchair project began in 2016 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology International Hackathon. Mylabathula was teamed with “three random guys” who got

Stephen Mylabathula (CompE ’19) hopes to provide greater wheelchair mobility for quadriplegics and those with spinal cord injuries through head movement and brain signals. Watch:

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Lucas Abbott (ChE ’20) is building an education app to help students prepare for tests. After graduation, he hopes to work in regenerative medicine, genetic technology, or cell engineering.

their pick of materials to cobble together an invention and pitch it to a panel of judges. They grabbed a $200 Muse headband—a device marketed to enhance meditation that detects head movements and electrical brain signals—and they used it to control a small robotic car. But they pitched their idea as a prototype of a



“I was really excited,” Mylabathula said. “But what I failed to recognize for almost six months was that this idea could actually be useful for people.”

friend Furqan Syed, a senior majoring in computer science. The pair refined the headband for wheelchair users. In 2017, they won first place in the University’s BizPitch student entrepreneur competition, earning $1,000 to invest in their creation.

Nevertheless, he brought the idea back to the University of Minnesota and his

Since then, Mylabathula and Syed have built the prototype with an actual

wheelchair controller. The team placed in the top 10 of more than 250 competitors.

wheelchair that they tested out with 13 users last semester. This spring, they held a successful “demo day” with help from Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Mylabathula said the lessons from Froggatt’s class are paying off. “What platform architecting taught us is we can go into a lot of different markets,” he explained. “If one market doesn’t work, we’ll quickly pivot into a different market.” The class also led to a summer internship at Oculus, the Facebook-owned virtual reality company. “I made an impact simply because I didn’t look at something as just a technical project,” Mylabathula said. “You want to develop both your depth and your breadth—like the letter T right? Today’s industry really wants people who have a lot of depth in their field, but also can communicate with other teams, can explain things in more natural and easy-to-understand methods, and really be that T-shaped person.”


ucas Abbott: Test prep to health care Lucas Abbott, a junior in chemical engineering, has long wanted to go into pharmaceuticals and health care. But he also has had a long-abiding interest in starting his own enterprise. By his freshman year, when he had yet to make progress on his goals, Abbott told himself, “You know, if I’m really serious about this, the best thing I can do is just start a business.”

I think just understanding the process of being innovative and trying to commercialize new technology instills a lot of confidence in students.

So he solicited advice from a friend with a degree in entrepreneurial management and began work on an education app he called Chronicle that helps students prepare for tests. As he was developing it, Abbott met Froggatt, who told him about his technology innovation class. “It seemed really the area I wanted to go into, this blend between business and management, and science and technology,” Abbott said. “The majority of the classes that I’ve taken have either been 100 percent technical based or 100 percent business and management based,” he noted. “This class was unique because it blended those two together. There’s the technology base—can you actually pull this off? Then the commercial aspect— is there actually some sort of a problem? Are we actually creating value? If you have a problem out there that has a big enough market, that’s when you really get to successful products.” Abbott took his newfound knowledge and continued refining his app. “Chronicle gives students questions about their course material and then they verbally respond out loud as if they were teaching someone else about the subject,” he said. “There’s a lot of research that goes into this idea that


when you say something out loud you remember it a lot better.”

This spring, Abbott studied a group of students to see how well the app prepared them for a high school Advanced Placement psychology exam. He and his development team of Reed Anderson, Jacob Abbott (CompSci ’22), and Lukas Hajdukiewicz will evaluate its effectiveness this summer, based on test scores and the students’ sense of “self-efficacy” or understanding. Abbott, a recipient of the Iron Range and Donald L. Johnson Scholarships, said he would recommend Froggatt’s course, even to students for whom starting a business is not a top priority. “I think just understanding the process of being innovative and trying to commercialize new technology instills a lot of confidence in students,” he said. But the class gave him a new framework for viewing problems. “It really gives you a step-by-step guide to overcome some pretty big problems and challenges,” said Abbott, who hopes to work at a biotechnology or pharmaceutical startup company. “So, as I go forward now entering the technical realm, I’m confident I can come up with novel and valuable ideas.”

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shtynn Trauth: The right pitch Ashtynn Trauth, a senior in biomedical engineering, has been honing her entrepreneurial chops by brainstorming and pitching creative ideas in competition.

Last year, Trauth and two classmates practiced their skills in several innovation challenges. In these competitions, participants identify a biomedical problem, develop an idea to solve it, and present their idea to a panel of judges—a medical version of the TV show “Shark Tank.” In fact, they pitched in a biannual Minnesota-based competition called Walleye Tank.

After this class, I realized that in research and development you can work on a product for awhile and it can never make it to a patient. I really want to help bring technology to market. ASHTYNN TRAUTH

“We targeted Alzheimer’s because it’s a huge problem,” Trauth said. The treatment they proposed: Stimulating the body’s glymphatic system to more vigorously remove waste from the brain, including the plaques and tangles that are diagnostic of the disease. Trauth admits theirs was the “most underdeveloped idea,” an unproven technology resembling deep-brain stimulation. But it was compelling enough to win or



place in several competitions, including the Minnesota Cup.

Trauth has also landed on a product with real commercialization potential.

With a budding interest in developing and commercializing technological ideas, Trauth stumbled on Froggatt’s Leading Breakthrough Technology Innovation class. In contrast to her required biomedical curriculum that had “a ton of technical classes with a lot of complicated math,” Froggatt’s class promised something different.

For her senior project, Trauth and four classmates shadowed University of Minnesota neurosurgeons and came up with an idea for burr hole surgery in the skull to make it easier to drain chronic subdural hematomas. Normally, a drain is placed in the burr hole for a short time and then the hole is closed permanently. But subdural hematomas often reappear in the same place, and another burr hole must be drilled.

“I saw the flier, and I had a little bit of free time in my schedule,” she recalled, “and thought, ‘it seems really cool— why not?’” The class was the first she had heard of building a platform of many potential uses for a single technology. It was divided into teams and, with information from Froggatt about a new technology, the students identified potential markets. “Then we platformed out the different ways that we could use this technology to create different products and services, and find completely different ways to use it,” Trauth said. “Kirk helped me sharpen my skills to target my pitch to the audience,” she said. The class also changed her career ambitions. “Originally I was thinking I’ll just get an R&D role, and work on some cool technology,” she said. “After this class, I realized that in research and development you can work on a product for awhile and it can never make it to a patient. I really want to help bring technology to market. Had I not taken this class, I wouldn’t have really known anything about that whole other spectrum of jobs I could work in.”

Trauth’s team is designing a soft plug for the burr hole. “In the first hematoma craniotomy, the doctor will place the plug and close the skin over it,” she explained. “If the hematoma recurs, the patient can go into the clinic or doctor’s office as opposed to an operating room and have their fluid drained by needle with no need for anesthesia.” Trauth said she is considering working in the biomedical engineering field for a couple of years before returning for the Master of Science in Medical Device Innovation offered by the University’s Technological Leadership Institute. But first she’d like to teach English in Spain for a year. “I would love to be fluent in Spanish,” said Trauth, who was president of the Spanish National Honor Society in her high school near Chicago. “If my long-term goals are to get into a product manager role, having that experience abroad would add a lot to what I could bring to that position.”

Ashtynn Trauth (BME ’19) and four classmates shadowed University of Minnesota neurosurgeons and came up with an idea to more easily drain blood clots in the brain.

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.

Get Smart CSE faculty develop and harness custom-fitted, connected technology

—Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Over the past two decades, “smart” has become a buzzword used to describe a whole universe of inventions aimed at making people’s lives easier, safer, healthier, and richer. There’s no universal definition of “smart” in the context of technology, but typically, it refers to automated, efficient, user-friendly devices and systems, often controlled and monitored remotely. And its “magic” stems directly from human imagination and ingenuity. Many CSE faculty members are working on the leading edge of smart technology. We sat down to chat with three of them about their research and its implications.





auren Linderman: Smart bridges

Lauren Linderman had just graduated from college in St. Louis with her bachelor’s in civil engineering when the I-35W bridge collapsed in 2007, making international headlines. Little did she know that a decade later, she’d be conducting cutting-edge research in Minnesota on how to increase infrastructure safety— including monitoring the replacement for that very bridge. Linderman studies smart technology applications in two broad categories: monitoring the stability and performance of structures and buildings, and limiting their response—in hopes of minimizing injury and damage—in catastrophic events like earthquakes. The assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering scrutinizes measurements from hundreds of sensors on the I-35W bridge to glean indications about what kind of changes it’s undergoing, potential implications

of those changes, and how future bridge design could improve even more. She’s collaborating with Professor Carol Shield on the bridge-monitoring project. The sensors, placed in 2008 by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, measure responses like acceleration (or vibration), strain, temperature, and displacement. “There are other structures that have used this technology, but I think this is the only structure where we’ve had sensors on there since inception that are still operating,” Linderman said. “That’s been really interesting, because it’s allowed us to look at confirming some design considerations.” One such consideration is called “creep.” As Linderman explained, “Concrete creeps. In lay terms, what that means is that under constant load, it will continue to get shorter with time. That’s really hard to model accurately. Here we were able to capture the long-term creep of the

Assistant professor Lauren Linderman’s research is aimed at increasing infrastructure safety. Her current projects include the I-35W replacement bridge in Minneapolis— and keeping an eye on the hundreds of sensors on it.

structure over the first 10 years, which is when the majority of the creep happens.” Linderman and Shield believe their analysis suggests that after a decade, the I-35W replacement bridge isn’t quite done creeping—a subtle revelation that wouldn’t have been accessible without current technology and a growing knowledge of how to deploy it.

The stress on bridges in places with wildly variable temperature and humidity is greater, Linderman said, and the task of monitoring them more complex. “The top of the deck might have a different temperature than the bottom of the bridge. So it’s not uniformly expanding and contracting. There’s a lot of loading on the bridge due to temperature

Watch to learn more about Linderman’s work with smart bridges.

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changes,” she explained. “It’s important. It seems like the temperatures that we see in the structure often exceed the design gradients that the code would specify.”


In a related project, Linderman is examining sensor selection and placement—trying to discern what’s the most efficient and cost-effective way to use available smart technology. “Longer term, our goal is to incorporate the reliability of the sensors into where you put them,” she said. “By that I mean, what if a sensor fails? Do I also want something [another sensor] that’s redundant?”


Through her work, Linderman often imagines some of the smart tools that don’t yet exist. “There are still sensors that I think would be exciting to develop,” she said. “Corrosion sensing [for bridges] is probably the holy grail. One of the big concerns with concrete structures is if the rebar is corroding, or the prestressing strand is corroding, you can’t see it.” Instead, engineers rely on a complicated process of deduction. “If you could detect that,” she added, “that would be pretty cool.”


ulianna Abel: Smart fabrics

As an undergraduate studying mechanical engineering, Julianna Abel and four of her classmates had a weekly tradition—they’d get together to knit and watch Project Runway. That gathering became more than a hobby. It informed her career path. Today, Abel is a Benjamin Mayhugh assistant professor of mechanical engineering in CSE, where she’s developing and enhancing smart materials and



structures—most of them inspired by knitting and textiles.

She’s a national leader in a small but growing sphere.

“When I went to grad school, I was looking for an interesting project that applied materials in a novel way. My advisor, who was also a hobbyist knitter, and I had this idea to couple smart materials and knitting,” Abel said. The fibers she works with today aren’t wool or acrylic, but rather metal solid-state actuators that are often woven into fabrics and can be used to create smart garments, medical devices, consumer products, and more.

“There aren’t a lot of us working in the multifunctional textile space,” Abel said. “But there are so many opportunities to create actuating, sensing, energy harvesting, and communicating textiles to impact different fields.” Some of her endeavors revolve around shape-memory alloys—smart metals that, when stretched or otherwise deformed, “remember” their original


1 2 3

In her Design of Active Materials and Structures Laboratory, assistant professor Julianna Abel and her graduate students are weaving smart materials into fabrics for novel uses. Knitting machines are used to integrate shape-memory alloys into multifunctional textiles. Seven-foot-wide robotic angel wings that open and close with a hidden sleeve button were created for the University of Minnesota’s Department of Theatre Arts & Dance fall 2016 production of Marisol. A shape-memory alloy garment that dynamically conforms to the human body to provide active compression.

shape and return to it. They change in length and stiffness when heated beyond a certain temperature. “It [can serve as] an alternative actuator. You could use a single piece of wire, and you could connect two electric leads across it and pass a current through it to heat it up,” thus causing the wire to contract. “And so you have this very simple way of producing motion,” Abel explained. A small, elegant mechanical butterfly in her office illustrates the concept. Shape-memory alloys can also be used

in health and medical devices like stents and orthodontic wires. Abel is co-advising an apparel design student with Professor Brad Holschuh from the College of Design. The Ph.D. student holds a fellowship from NASA to create a space suit that could offset orthostatic hypotension—the blood pressure drop and resulting dizziness that occurs when astronauts return to Earth.

“squeeze the lower limbs in a controlled manner so that blood continues to circulate.” Medical-grade compression

Watch to learn more about Abel’s research into smart fabrics.

The suit, said Abel, who dreamed of being an astronaut as a child, will

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Saif Benjaafar, industrial and systems engineering department head, is a leading authority on sharing economy business models and the smart technology that propels them.

garments are another potential application of this technology.

jagged rocks and then kind of pop back into place,” she said.

Another of Abel’s students is working on an airless tire for space vehicles like the Mars rover.

Looking ahead, Abel wants to incorporate more polymer-based textiles and experiment with other smart materials, including piezoelectric fibers, which can generate an electric charge in response to applied stress.

While not technically a smart device, the tire, whose surface is a knitted, metal-based “fabric,” is a novel approach to navigating rough terrain. “The goal is to have it envelop, say,



“I’m always reading materials science journals, trying to imagine what new

materials systems are coming out that could be integrated into a fiber form,” she said.


aif Benjaafar: Smart economies

The sharing economy—also called access economy, on-demand economy, and peer-to-peer economy—has exploded over the past decade. Car-sharing and ride-sharing, house- and apart-

One of the key ideas of the sharing economy is that there’s excess capacity in the world that goes untapped... a lot of stuff we own is not really well used. SAIF BENJAAFAR

ment-sharing, crowdfunding, peer-topeer lending, and the like are revolutionizing the way people live and do business by enabling greater efficiency, less waste, extra income for providers, and greater access for buyers. A recent McKinsey & Co. report found that nearly a third of the working-age population in the United States and Europe engages in some form of independent work. Saif Benjaafar, Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, wants to help ensure that this societal sea change is a net positive for everyone.

change in time and in space. That’s one notion of ‘smartness,’” he said. “Another notion is matching. Which drivers do you match with which rider? Do you pull the trigger and match [the first available driver to the rider] or do you wait for a better match? If you wait too long you could lose the rider,” he said—and drivers don’t want to be idle for too long, either, because they’re not earning money then. Ride-sharing companies also employ smart technology for routing algorithms, to find the best way to a given destination at any given time. “These platforms have enabled micro-entrepreneurship, enabling micro-sellers to function as if they have the scale of a large company,” Benjaafar said. He’s keenly interested in environmental sustainability, and his work tends to focus on shared mobility because of its potential for reducing environmental impacts.

“They do dynamic pricing, so they sense in real time what the supply of drivers is and what the demand of customers is, and then they price accordingly using sophisticated algorithms. A lot of the work I do is in that area—how should a platform set prices as supply and demand

It’s a balancing act, Benjaafar said. “There’s a possibility that everybody wins—that consumers benefit because now they can fulfill their needs without the hassle of ownership, and the service provider benefits by monetizing an expensive asset.”

Photo by Patrick Loch/U.S. Army corps of Engineers

Benjaafar is a leading authority on sharing economy business models and the smart technology that propels them. He points to ride-sharing companies like Lyft and Uber to explain the kind of analysis in which he specializes.

“One of the key ideas of the sharing economy is that there’s excess capacity in the world that goes untapped. So if you think of your car and all of the time it sits idle, it’s depreciating and occupying valuable real estate,” he said. “A lot of stuff we own is not really well used, or not used all the time. Before we had these online platforms, it was difficult to leverage that kind of excess capacity.”

But there’s also the potential for overconsumption, he explained, again using car-sharing as an example. Consumers who might otherwise walk, bike, or use public transit may choose to drive when that choice becomes accessible. “This is where public policy comes into play,” he said. Government can intervene by providing incentives for consumers to make the lowest-impact choice for any given situation. Other challenges remain, Benjaafar said. And whether the on-demand economy ends up enhancing societal well-being overall depends partly on whether and how they’re addressed. Someone whose main source of income is driving for a ride-sharing company doesn’t have employer-sponsored vacation or health insurance, for example. “If I’m driving for Uber, I’m not just supplying my time,” he explained. “I’m also supplying my car. And I’m responsible for maintenance and insurance. So there’s this fundamental shift in who bears a lot of the risk.” The shift is already well underway, Benjaafar said, so it’s important to wrestle with its pitfalls now. “I think the rules of the game should not be left in the hands of the platform operators and service providers,” he said. “Our research group is unique, because we’re stepping back and looking at the broader implications for society.” Visit for the latest news and trends on smart services.

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The Impossible, Made Possible


When inspiration strikes or opportunity presents itself, these alumni act—they build better, stronger, faster... One engineer helped design the tallest building on earth. Another went to even greater heights to keep the International Space Station running for NASA. A former Minnesota farm boy helped synthesize meat from plant-based products. A trio of bike-obsessed engineers figured out how to replace steel wheel spokes with flexible fibers. What on earth (or off earth, in the case of the NASA engineer) do these people have in common? All are University of Minnesotaeducated scientists and engineers who are pushing the frontiers of their respective domains—turning seemingly impossible ideas into practical solutions to benefit humankind and our planet.



harlie Spanjers, Kyle Olson, Brad Guertin: Bike nerds

A trio of CSE engineers have reinvented the wheel. “Bike spokes have essentially remained unchanged since the first Tour de France while everything else on the bike has changed over the last 100 years,” said Charlie Spanjers (Chemical Engineering ’10), co-founder of Minneapolis-based Berd LLC, a company that has created new technology for making bicycle spokes from flexible fibers. “Twenty years ago, the materials just weren’t better than steel. Now we think they are.” The race to build a better spoke began with three Minnesota-trained engineers who also happened to be bike nerds. Spanjers, Kyle Olson (Electrical Engineering ’10 and Ph.D. ’16), and Brad Guertin (Mechanical Engineering ’10 and M.S. ’14) became friends as undergraduates in CSE. They tossed around ideas for reducing weight and making

Photo by Caroline Yang


improvements. Bike components have become progressively lighter thanks to innovations such as carbon fiber, but one part remained little-changed—the steel spokes. Could flexible polymers replace rigid spokes, they wondered. The trio brainstormed how to overcome the main barrier—the connections between a polymer spoke and metal rod attached to the wheel rim. They devised a braided polyethylene fiber with a threaded stainless steel rod inserted into the hollow cavity of the fiber. The threads of the rod connect to nipples within the rim. Spanjers compares the technology to a Chinese finger trap—the more it is pulled, the tighter the connection becomes. “As far as we know, it has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any polyethylene-to-metal connection,” he said. “When you pull, it compresses. That frictional force is what does the majority of the holding.”

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Like many great ideas, this one arose by accident. Spanjers recalled: “Kyle suggested something, and I said, ‘that’s a great idea!’ I thought he was talking about the Chinese finger trap connection, but Kyle was actually talking about something else. Somehow between the two of us, we came up with something that worked really well.” The partners founded the company in 2015. Berd touts its PolyLight spoke as “the lightest in the world.” In 2016, the company won the general division of the Minnesota Cup, a competition for entrepreneurs, which helped attract investors and advisors. In 2018, it won a $225,000 grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation because it had developed new manufacturing processes for polymer-to-metal connections, an innovation applicable to many domains beyond spokes. Despite a boom in recent advances in polymeric materials, commercialization has lagged due to the difficulty of connecting these fibers to common materials such as stainless steel. Indeed, the Berd founders hope to expand into other industries such as sailing, automotive, or aerospace. Their spokes are less than half the weight of metal ones, about 100 to 200 grams lighter for a set of wheels, a difference most noticeable to elite riders. But many cyclists can sense a difference in the smoothness of the ride. “Metal does a really good job of transmitting vibration,” said Spanjers. “If you pluck a metal spoke, it will ring very nicely. The downside is when you’re



biking and hit bumps or rough roads, all those vibrations get transmitted from the wheel to the handlebars and your seat. With our spokes, you get much less transmission of vibration from the road to the rider. That’s something immediately noticeable to everybody.” Berd sells directly to consumers and through stores such as Erik’s Bike Shop. (It costs about $595 to outfit a bike with Berd spokes.) The typical customer is an affluent cycling enthusiast who loves cool new gadgets. The materials exhibit a wondrous feat of physics that seems counterintuitive.


eather McDonald: Rocket scientist

Heather McDonald makes sure that astronauts never again repeat the famous line, “Houston, we have a problem.” McDonald, a career NASA employee, serves as the chief engineer of the International Space Station (ISS). She is the first female to hold the position in the 20-year history of the space station. “I feel very lucky I have a job I love so much,” said McDonald (Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics ’92). “One of the things I love is how much I get to learn, grow, and expand my knowledge literally on a daily basis.”

There are always all sorts of funny comments— ‘this is just vaporware! This product can’t exist!’

“When you have something flexible and put it under tension, it can act rigid,” explained Spanjers. “You’re really standing on the bottom spokes.” Typically, the engineers encounter disbelief from laypeople who assume flexible spokes are impossible. “There are always all sorts of funny comments—‘this is just vaporware! This product can’t exist!’” said Spanjers. But seeing is believing. “If you bring a wheel,” he said, “it’s a good way to convince them.”


McDonald helps integrate the work of about 20 different engineering units within NASA, from navigation to thermal control to avionics, to keep the ISS orbiting the earth and accomplishing its science objectives. Her purview covers all space station engineering operations plus the fleet of vehicles that travel to and from it. Her job also entails coordinating with the Russian, Japanese, European, and Canadian space agencies, and private companies such as Elon Musk’s Space X.

Photo by Caroline Yang

Berd LLC owners (left to right) Charlie Spanjers (ChE ’10), Brad Guertin (ME ’10, M.S. ’14), and Kyle Olson (EE ’10, Ph.D. ’16) are giving cyclists a smoother ride with fabric spokes. “Berd” is a portmanteau of the words “bike” and “nerds.”

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Photo by Chris Hansen

International Space Station chief engineer Heather McDonald (AEM ’92) with an astronaut who was about to enter the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, a pool used for spacewalk training.




“If something breaks on the ISS, Mission Control engages my team to help solve the problems,” she said. “Our job is also to assess activities and hardware in advance to ensure they don’t break.”

McDonald traces her interest in aerospace to growing up near the Air National Guard base in Duluth. When the family heard the roar of military jets, they hurried outside or drove to the airport to watch F-4 and F-16 fighter planes practice takeoffs and landings. She enrolled in the University of Minnesota–Duluth intending to major

in math but shifted to aerospace engineering, transferred to the Twin Cities campus, and launched a career that led to space. She joined CSE’s co-operative program (in which students alternate semesters of academic work with fulltime employment) in 1989 and spent four quarters working at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. McDonald has spent her entire career at the center (including 16 years of parttime work while raising three children). Some engineers thrive in narrow silos, but McDonald prefers working across disciplines and interacting with many departments—which is exactly what she does today. Her team ensures that every piece of hardware and software for the space station meets NASA requirements and “everything works together as an integrated system.” “Growing up, I enjoyed looking at the night sky,” she said. “Never did I imagine the dreams born at the University of

Photo courtesy NASA/Roscosmos

Photo by Chris Hansen

Never did I imagine the dreams born at the University of Minnesota would connect me so closely to the stars.

Minnesota would connect me so closely to the stars.”


ick Halla: Plant-based advocate

Nick Halla works towards a more sustainable future—meat derived from plants. Halla (Chemical Engineering ’05) is a senior vice president of Impossible Foods, a California startup that engineers meat substitutes designed to be indistinguishable from real animal flesh. “This isn’t a veggie burger,” said Halla, “This is meat made a better way.” Halla’s quest to achieve the impossible followed an odyssey from Minnesota farm boy to chemical engineer to Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Halla grew up on a family dairy farm in Owatonna (about 60 miles south of Minneapolis) and went to the University of Minnesota. He worked at General Mills for four years before heading to California to earn an MBA and master’s degree in environmental resources from Stanford University. “My intention was never to do anything in food again,” he recalled with a chuckle. “I didn’t totally succeed.”

The International Space Station photographed on October 4, 2018 from a Soyuz spacecraft after undocking.

Halla met a Stanford medical school professor named Patrick Brown, an innovative researcher who helped invent DNA microarrays and co-founded the Public Library of Science, or PLoS. Brown shared his vision for another disruptive innovation: meat synthesized from plant-based products. The

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name of his startup captured the ambition of his vision—Impossible Foods. Until then, Halla planned a career in renewable energy or clean technology because they seemed to offer the best avenues towards a greener future. As he talked to Brown, however, he realized he could make a larger impact by returning to the food industry.

clearcut land in the Amazon has become pasture and much of the rest is planted in feedcrops to nourish the animals.

Impossible Foods wants to tackle a very big one. Humans have been butchering animals for at least 2.5 million years and keeping livestock for tens of thousands of years, but our old ways of doing business are no longer sustainable with the global population approaching 8 billion.

How can humans satisfy our craving for meat in a sustainable way?

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock industry produces about 14.5 percent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions—more than vehicles, planes, ships, and trains. Grazing livestock occupies 26 percent of the ice-free land surface and feedcrop production consumes 33 percent of arable land. Our meat craving drives deforestation—70 percent of Photo courtesy Impossible Foods

After earning his MBA in 2011, Halla became the first employee of Impossible Foods. As the company has grown, he has served as jack-of-all-trades in engineering, financing and accounting, real estate, supply chain, sales and marketing, business development, and corporate strategy. “The things I learned at Minnesota in the chemical engineering program were not just the concepts of thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, or

chemical reactions, which of course are useful,” he said. “It was more the intuition on how to tackle problems.”

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Impossible Foods has spent five years researching what makes meat smell and taste so appealing and how to reproduce the chemical components from plantbased sources. It narrowed in on heme, an iron-containing molecule that helps transport oxygen throughout the body. A version of this molecule called leghemoglobin occurs naturally in the roots of legumes. When mixed with plantbased proteins, fats, and other ingredients, it imparted a flavor and aroma like meat. The company extracts DNA from soy plants, inserts it into genetically engineered yeast, and the fermentation process results in heme, which can be mass produced. The company’s signature product is the Impossible Burger. Compared to beef, it has a smaller environmental hoofprint—87 percent less water, 89 percent less greenhouses gases, 96 percent less land, and 100 percent fewer cows. “Our target from day one is the hardest-core, meat-loving consumer,” Halla said. “We break down what gives meat all its fundamental properties—the texture, the transformation, the flavor, and aroma. Now when we do blind taste tests with meat eaters, we’re head-on-head on preference with meat from a cow.” More than 7,000 restaurants serve the Impossible Burger and the company plans to launch in grocery stores this

Photo by Shia Sai Pui/CUP media

Impossible Foods, which is backed by celebrities such as Serena Williams and Trevor Noah, launched in Hong Kong last year. Senior VP Nick Halla (ChE ’05) was there to mark its debut with May Chow, Asia’s 2017 Best Female Chef.

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Photo by Danielle Campbell

In designing skyscrapers, Benton Johnson (CivE ’05, M.S. ’07) and his team are thinking “better, leaner, or more efficient.” The plexiglass models in the background were built in-house for recent projects.

year. In his latest role, Halla is leading both Impossible Foods’ retail and international businesses. “The only way we’re going to change the system is by doing something completely out of the box,” he said. “You’re not going to change the system by making a slightly better veggie burger. We have



to be better than meat from cows and in many attributes we already are.”


enton Johnson: Skyscraper enthusiast

Benton Johnson has taken engineering to new heights—including the world’s tallest building.

Johnson (Civil Engineering ’05, M.S. ’07) works as a senior structural engineer at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), a firm known for innovation and skyscrapers. “This is a very interesting place to work because they’re always pushing the limits, pushing the boundaries, and


BURJ KHALIFA Dubai • 828 Meters


finding new ways to work on things,” he said. “It’s unusual if you get multiple projects in a row with the same criteria. I remember one day I was bored in my job—just one day. There’s no limit of intellectual stimulation at this place.”

Johnson grew up in Bemidji, Minn., with “aspirations to do something in engineering and something big with my career.” As a graduate student, he worked on one of the first research projects in the University of Minnesota’s Multi-Axial Subassemblage Testing (MAST) Laboratory, where structures can be subjected to simulated earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes. His thesis examined how to anchor concrete walls to foundations and their performance in seismic events. This background immediately piqued interest when he interviewed at SOM’s Chicago headquarters. Concrete shear walls provide key structural elements for strengthening buildings to resist wind and seismic events. The company’s portfolio included a number of tall skyscrapers including the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago and the One World Trade Center in New York (the tallest building in the United States), and Burj Khalifa in Dubai (the tallest building in the world at 828 meters). In 2007, Johnson went to work for SOM and his first project was the Burj Khalifa.

Johnson has remained at the company ever since and engaged in one cutting-edge project after another. For example, researching how to construct buildings with timber beams instead of steel or concrete. The company devised a structural solution of wood beams with reinforced concrete joints, which would reduce the construction carbon footprint by up to 75 percent compared to traditional steel and concrete. Johnson expects that timber will become increasingly cost-effective and common in buildings up to 20 stories. “Timber is one of the most sustainable materials we can use,” he said. “Most future development will happen in cities. The most sustainable way to build cities is to use a lot of timber, which means multi-story construction.” Johnson has experimented with 3D-printed technology as well. In 2015, his team created a thermoplastic polymer building model for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Last year, they worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to 3D print a concrete barracks model.



WILLIS TOWER (formerly Sears Tower) Chicago • 442 Meters not including antennas

ONE WORLD TRADE CENTER New York • 541 Meters


Our motivation is not necessarily to be pushing the boundary just for the sake of doing it.


AL HAMBRA TOWER Kuwait City 413 Meters INFINITY TOWER Dubai • 307 Meters


Johnson has risen into management and constantly seeks engineering solutions that expand the realm of the possible. “I try to think of not necessarily taller or first,” he said, “but better, leaner, or more efficient. Particularly with sustainability and climate change, our motivation is not necessarily to be pushing the boundary just for the sake of doing it. It’s about achieving something that wasn’t otherwise possible within some kind of constraint.”


Iconic skyscrapers by architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. S UM M E R 2 0 1 9


Investing in Tomorrow KIM DOCKTER Assistant Dean, External Relations

“The scientific man does not aim at an immediate result. He does not expect that his advanced ideas will be readily taken up. His work is like that of the planter—for the future. His duty is to lay the foundation for those who are to come, and point the way. He lives and labors and hopes.” —Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)


CSE is proud to count numerous leading scientists and engineers among its impressive alumni. Consider Earl Bakken (EE ’48), inventor of the pacemaker; Walter Brattain (Physics Ph.D. ’29), co-inventor of the transistor; Bob Gore (ChE Ph.D. ’63), inventor of Gore-Tex; or Seymour Cray (EE ’49, Math M.A. ’51), creator of the first supercomputer. Imagine a future world without curious and pioneering inventors like these. So many of the things we need and enjoy in our modern lives are made possible by these creative and supremely skilled individuals—clean water, computers, medical devices, vehicles, bridges, advanced materials, and the Internet of Things, to name only a few. Yet according to the National Academy of Engineering, the century ahead poses challenges as formidable as any from millennia past: “As the population grows and its needs and desires expand, the problem of sustaining civilization’s continuing advancement, while still improving the quality of life, looms more immediate. Old and new threats to personal and public health demand more effective



and more readily available treatments. Vulnerabilities to pandemic diseases, terrorist violence, and natural disasters require serious searches for new methods of protection and prevention. And products and processes that enhance the joy of living remain a top priority of engineering innovation, as they have been since the taming of fire and the invention of the wheel.” Due to swiftly changing demographics in America, it is imperative that we meet the high demand for scientists and engineers by expanding the number of students we train each year. As Dean Kaveh explains in his column, we are launching a plan to increase the size of the undergraduate student body. With this bold initiative comes the need for more resources to support our students, faculty, and the facilities in which they learn and work each day. I invite you to join us in this effort to ensure that there are sufficient future generations of Minnesota-trained scientists and engineers by considering a gift to CSE. Your generosity in any amount helps us achieve the ambitious goals of Driven: The Campaign for the College of Science and Engineering, which concludes in June 2021. Thank you for ensuring that the students of today are prepared to solve current and future challenges of the 21st century and beyond. To learn more about joining us, call me at 612-626-9385.


You name it

If you’d like to support a project you read about in this magazine, or are curious about department-specific opportunities, contact us today: Courtney Billing

Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

612-626-9501 • Jennifer Clarke

Industrial and Systems Engineering Mechanical Engineering 612-626-9354 • Anastacia Davis

Electrical and Computer Engineering Institute for Math and its Applications 612-625-4509 • Raechelle Drakeford

Corporate Partnerships

612-626-6874 • Kathy Peters-Martell

Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics Chemistry 612-626-8282 • Emily Strand

Computer Science and Engineering Medical Devices Center School of Mathematics

612-625-6798 • Shannon Weiher

Biomedical Engineering Earth Sciences School of Physics and Astronomy

612-624-5543 • Shannon Wolkerstorfer

Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering History of Science, Technology, and Medicine Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory

University of Minnesota alumni leave legacy in CSE spaces Driving vintage sports cars in Brainerd, Minn., is a hobby Clifford Anderson shares with Professor Emeritus Patrick Starr. It was Starr who introduced Anderson, a 1962 University of Minnesota business graduate who started his collegiate life at CSE (then-called Institute of Technology), to former dean Steven Crouch— who was enthusiastic about Starr’s education philosophy and the University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project he advised for 14 years. In 2008, Anderson made his first significant contribution to the project. In 2018, Anderson honored Starr by dedicating a new campus workspace for the student group in his name. The Patrick J. Starr Solar Vehicle Project Laboratory, which opened last November, is just one of many capital projects in which Anderson and his wife, Nancy, have invested. Their support of the college, he said, is motivated by wanting to educate “multi-tasking” engineers.

The Patrick J. Starr Solar Vehicle Project Laboratory was made possible by a $1 million gift from Clifford and Nancy Anderson, pictured here with past CSE dean Steven Crouch (left) and current dean Mos Kaveh.

“The U is very famous for research, but it is also a main source of graduating engineers,” said Anderson. “I’m very much interested in helping the education of engineers beyond the blackboard and lecture. Our economy needs engineers who can work with others and who have broad perspective—engineers who can explain what they’ve built and also why it’s cheaper or more reliable.” The Andersons are also the people behind three Clifford I. and Nancy C. Anderson Student Innovation Labs on the East Bank. Nearly 600 CSE students use the labs at least once each semester. The 10,000-square-foot hands-on learning space includes a design lab with 3D printers and laser cutters, a machine shop with state-of-theart manufacturing equipment, and a third space with a 3D scanner and woodworking equipment. In addition to the named spaces, the Andersons have generously supported the Lind Hall renovation and updating instructional labs across the college. “I always asked the dean, ‘what is it you need that you’re not getting from the budgeting process?’” said Anderson. “If what he

612-626-6035 •

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Civic participation is important, but Maryanne and I also believe in looking out for the future generations when we still can. CHARLES LO

tells me fits in with my idea of preparing our future engineers, then all I do is give it a little nudge.”

Dynamometer driven, and more At the College of Science and Engineering, supporters of experiential learning—like the Andersons— are steadfast and plentiful. Their gifts are often personal, or driven by personal reasons. “It’s almost an obligation to give back if we received good benefits from a good education,” said Charles Lo (ME ’70, M.S. ’73, MBA ’93). He and his wife, Maryanne, made the inaugural gift for the Thomas E. Murphy Engine Research Lab, which moved into its renovated space at an industrial park near the Twin Cities campus in 2013.

Their contribution led to two new dynamometers, expanding the University’s ability to study alternative fuels and perform stateof-the-art combustion research.

“When we learned that the lab was still using dynamometers from the late 1940s for its teaching and research activities,” Lo recalled, “Maryanne and I decided to help. We felt that the lab needed modern equipment to educate our students and do advanced studies in order to maintain the U’s national ranking.”

William I. Fine Theoretical Physics Institute, was designed to facilitate dialogue and to house Professor Gasiorowicz’s book collection. Faculty, students, and post-docs are regular users of the space. In fact, a weekly conversation over tea is held there—a tradition many have said Gasiorowicz would have appreciated. “Steve was an active, young professor who made it interesting to be at Minnesota,” Bardeen recalled. “I remember him being very busy, but he had a warm personality and was always helpful. He also had a very broad knowledge of what was going on in physics around the world. I was inspired and guided by him.”

It was a former faculty advisor who spurred a gift from William Bardeen (Physics Ph.D. ’68) and his wife, Marjorie (Math ’63).

In addition to being a gifted teacher, Gasiorowicz was instrumental in turning the William I. Fine Theoretical Physics Institute into an internationally renowned physics research center. He died at age 88 in 2016.

The Stephen G. Gasiorowicz Collaboration Space, located on the second floor of Tate Hall in the

“I’m happy to be able to preserve Steve’s name in the place he helped found,” Bardeen said.

The Stephen G. Gasiorowicz Collaboration Space that houses the late professor’s book collection was donated by William and Marjorie Bardeen (left). Gasiorowicz taught at the U from 1961 to 2001. He pioneered the quark model of hadrons, the theory of glueballs, and the mechanism of quantum chromodynamics confinement.



SAYING THANKS In letters to donors, scholarship recipients express gratitude for life-changing experiences.

Without [this] scholarship… I wouldn’t have had the time to focus on student groups and interview practice to get a full-time offer with Amazon. I wouldn’t have been able to financially afford to study abroad in such an eye-opening place as Asia.

I’ve wanted to study astronomy since I was nine years old, and here I am. [With scholarships,] financial burdens have not been a huge issue for me, and I’ve been able to pursue research… I am deeply indebted to [you for] the scholarship that you have given me.

I remember nervously waiting for my financial aid to see whether or not it would be feasible to spend my college years in Minneapolis. With your support, I was able to make a decision based [on] the quality of education. The U has given me everything I’ve wanted and more.




To prepare myself for graduate school, I am hoping to engage in as much research as possible during my undergraduate career. Achieving this goal has been largely aided by your generosity as I have been able to spend time volunteering in different labs on campus over the summer… I’m currently writing a paper on my [own research project] that I hope to publish before the end of the academic year.


Any form of charity is enough to transform someone and that is exactly what you have done for me.


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Polos, t-shirts, baseball caps… find great additions to your warm weather wardrobe today.

Shop online:



Quick Facts 72,543 Living CSE alumni between 31 15,428 Alumni and 50 years old above the 840 Alumni age of 90 of 95+ Number countries you’ll 48 37,300+

JUNE 21-22

find CSE alumni U.S. states with CSE alumni Reside in Minnesota

CEMS Centennial & Jubilee This weekend kicks off the yearlong celebration of two department programs: the 100th anniversary of chemical engineering (1919-2019) and the 50th anniversary of materials science (1970-2020). Significant achievements of faculty and alumni will be highlighted in the department newsletter and website throughout the year. More info:

Stay Engaged


Virtually connect to give or receive professional advice.

CS&E 50th Anniversary Computer Science and Engineering alumni and guests are gathering to reconnect with old friends and professors to celebrate the department’s impact at the University and around the world. An alumni awards reception will be held on Friday, while a day-long event that includes a research showcase, keynote address, and panel discussions will be held on Saturday. More info:



Each year our alumni network grows stronger and more diverse. Here are two ways you can support each other in professional careers or business opportunities:

Maroon and Gold Network LinkedIn

The “College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota” group has nearly 2,600 members! More info:

Across land and sea In recent months, CSE Dean Mos Kaveh has traveled the world to meet with graduates near and far. In addition to sharing meals, he discussed the latest achievements and innovations taking place in the college. Here are a few photos from his Asian tour.

Dean Kaveh at Peking University with faculty, including Professor Xiaoru Yuan (CompE M.S. ’05, CompSci Ph.D. ’06). He joins an alumni dinner in Hong Kong, hosted by Houghton Lee (EE ’84 and M.S. ’90; standing right), who endowed the Edwin H. & Houghton Lee Study Abroad Scholarship with his brother, Edwin, (ME ’76; seated). BELOW LEFT: The dean in Beijing with alumni entrepreneurs Renji Yu (CompSci M.S. ’12), Yannan Wang (CompSci ’13), and Jiannan Zhang (CompE ’13).

ABOVE: Dean Kaveh and Hui Xiong (CompSci Ph.D. ’06), head of Baidu Research’s Business Intelligence Lab in Beijing and professor at Rutgers University. BELOW: In Shenzhen, the dean meets with Tencent Holdings Limited employees and former students Jimeng Zheng (EE Ph.D. ’13) and Yuli You (EE Ph.D. ’95), and Yizhou He (Math ’13) prior to an alumni dinner.

ABOVE: Korea University president Jin Taek Chung (ME Ph.D. ‘92) welcomes Dean Kaveh. Dean Kaveh meets CSE chemical engineering alumni at Seoul National University (SNU). CSE electrical and computer engineering professor Sang-Hyun Oh and SNU professor Hy Yoon Park join them.

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We’re celebrating 50 years!

Written by PAULINE OO

The premier issue of Inventing Tomorrow— renamed to signify the college’s mission.

The magazine transitions to quarterly newsletter items.

Apollo 11's moon landing happened in our first year of publication! This composite image features a close-up of one half-inch moon rock that came to our researchers.



Inventing Tomorrow is a direct descendant of Science and Technology, an eight-page publication “concerning physical science, mathematics, and engineering at the University of Minnesota” that first published in spring 1969 and became ITEMs, a quarterly newsletter turned glossy magazine that ran from 1974 to 1993.

Material research was a burgeoning field and the University of Minnesota was on the leading edge.

Robots take centerstage—our researchers develop tiny robots inspired by insects and children’s toys.

This year is also the 25th anniversary of Inventing Tomorrow, which launched in spring 1994. Like its predecessors, the magazine has evolved over time. But its aim remains the same—to keep you, our alumni and friends, informed.

Establishing strong industry partnerships and recruiting more women into engineering are recurring topics. The magazine also includes alumni achievements and offers a window into the student experience.

Stories over the decades have exemplified the range of talent, skills, and values in the college—as well as reflected our mission to train the scientific leaders of the future and create new technologies. Research topics and top concerns include climate change, energy, medical devices, supercomputing, and nanoscience.

In autumn 1969, Science and Technology reported that professors Robert Pepin and V. Rama Murthy were among 142 international experts asked to study moon samples from the NASA’s Apollo Apollo 11 mission. 11 mission. This This spring, year, CSE researcher we learned Jed that Mosenfelder CSE researcher is gettingJed the Mosenfelder chance to study is getting previousthe chance to touch lunar rocks collected ly untouched lunar rocks collected by by Apollo 17 astronauts in 1972.

In this cover story, Professor David Pui (left) and his team unveiled the “gene gun,” a new nanotechnology delivery method for gene therapy.

Coincidence? Not really. In our college, the past informs the present—and we keep looking ahead. Current CSE Dean Mos Kaveh says it well in his column on page 2 of this issue of the magazine: "While “While much of the technology seen in science fiction during my college days is still just a dream, a look around our college shows much of our research exceeds what we would have ever imagined 50 years ago. Our future is here today.” today." Read issues dating back to 2003 at

CSE’s undergraduate research opportunities prepare students for grad schools and careers.

Regents Professor Emeritus Lanny Schmidt invented a reactor that could extract hydrogen from ethanol.

Regenerative medicine is the focus of this faculty feature.

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Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage P A I D Twin Cities, MN Permit No. 90155

University of Minnesota 105 Walter Library 117 Pleasant Street SE Minneapolis, MN 55455

Join our networks! @UMNCSE UMNCSE

Thank you for your investment in students like me. I hope one day to give back in a similar manner.

— Aliza Beverage ’19, CSE Alumni Scholarship recipient

As a little girl, Aliza was fascinated by the stars. Now she’s graduating with degrees in astrophysics and physics, and intends to continue uncovering the secrets of the universe. In her time at CSE, she examined 102 colliding galaxies and modeled their energy distribution to understand how they form their stars. She also founded the University of Minnesota Astronomy Club.

The power of our CSE Alumni Scholarship lies in the participation of many, and gifts at every level—from $10 to $100,000—ensure its success.

Support this fund at

Invest in rising stars

Inventing Tomorrow Summer 2019  

In this future-oriented issue, we feature three University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering faculty harnessing “smart” techno...

Inventing Tomorrow Summer 2019  

In this future-oriented issue, we feature three University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering faculty harnessing “smart” techno...