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A Year to Remember as We Become the Swanson School


welcome Welcome

A New Era Begins for Pitt Engineering

Words simply cannot convey the excitement we experienced here during this past year. Among a lengthy list of highlights, two events occurred within a matter of months that forever will impact the future course of our school.

On December 5, 2007, the Pitt campus was enduring a typical winter day, with temperatures below freezing and light snow, but no one at the School of Engineering cared.

On December 5, 2007, Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg and I had the once-in-a-lifetime honor of announcing the School of Engineering was being named in honor of alumnus and Pitt Trustee John A. Swanson. This historic moment was the result of Swanson’s unprecedented generosity—which totals more than $41.3 million during our current campaign—and represents the largest individual gift commitment in Pitt’s history. A few months later, our plans for the expansion and renovation of Benedum Hall were visibly set into motion with the groundbreaking for the new three-story structure that will house the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. The Mascaro Center was established in 2003 and quickly has grown to become a leading center for advancing engineering solutions in the areas of green construction and sustainable water use. This new facility, made possible by an $8.5 million commitment from alumnus John C. “Jack” Mascaro, demonstrates our dedication to expanding our efforts in this critical field. It also serves as the centerpiece for the overall Transformation Plan for Benedum Hall.

A large tent had been set up on the plaza, and the excitement was becoming unbearable for the more than 500 students, faculty, and staff who gathered there and in the lobby of Benedum Hall for what they only knew to be a surprise announcement of historic magnitude. After Chancellor Nordenberg and Dean Holder helped unveil a sign on the stage, everyone knew just how special this day would be, as the school’s identity changed to become the Swanson School of Engineering. Following the announcement, students received shirts and hats bearing the school’s new logo and gathered on the steps for a photo with the namesake of their school.

There were many other accomplishments this year, including a record undergraduate enrollment and the naming of one of our students as a recipient of a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship—marking the sixth consecutive year one of our students has received this prestigious national award. Our future has never been brighter, and our sights certainly have never been as high as where we are aiming to take the Swanson School in the years ahead. I hope you enjoy this look back at the past year and join us in our enthusiasm for the challenges and opportunities still to come.

Gerald D. Holder U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering


swanson Announcing the Swanson School of Engineering

Benedum Hall Construction

About John Swanson

John Swanson is recognized internationally as an authority and innovator in the application of finite-element methods to engineering. He earned his PhD in applied mechanics from Pitt in 1966. In 1970, he founded ANSYS, Inc., a Canonsburg, Pa., company that markets the ANSYS software code that Swanson created for use by the aerospace, automotive, biomedical, manufacturing, and electronics industries to simulate how products will perform in real-world environments. He retired from ANSYS in 1999; however, he still serves the company in an advisory capacity and teaches ANSYS training courses. With more than 40 sales locations worldwide, ANSYS and its subsidiaries today employ approximately 1,400 people and distribute products through a network of channel partners in more than 40 countries. In 2004, Swanson was recognized with the highest award in the engineering profession, the American Association of Engineering Societies’ John Fritz Medal. The medal has been awarded since 1902; prior recipients include Orville Wright, Alexander Graham Bell, Alfred Nobel, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, and George Westinghouse. Swanson was appointed to Pitt’s Board of Trustees in 2006, and he received the School of Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998.


Radisav Vidic (seated at center) with students in the Environmental Engineering Laboratory

Planned Uses for Swanson’s Commitment

The magnitude of Swanson’s generosity is only part of the story behind his remarkable commitment. The gift was made with no restrictions, and the commitment will be fulfilled over just the next five years. These circumstances put the school in the unique position of designating substantial resources over a very short period of time to those strategic areas that are critical for achieving the school’s vision of becoming one of the nation’s elite engineering programs. The planned uses for these funds include the following four areas.

Benedum Hall Transformation Plan Earlier this year, a comprehensive plan to completely renovate and expand Benedum Hall got under way. Opened in 1971, the school’s home has undergone upgrades in select research and instructional spaces over the years, but the time simply has come for a complete restructuring to fully accommodate today’s teaching and research needs. The continued increase in student enrollment and faculty growth also necessitates additional space to grow. A majority of the funding for this project, more than $60 million, is being provided by the University, while an additional $40 million will need to be raised to implement the full scope of the Transformation Plan. A portion of the funds from the Swanson gift may be allocated toward the Transformation Plan, while funds also may be placed into an endowment to generate reliable resources for the future to maintain the new facilities. (See pages 4–5 for more details about this plan.)

Zhi-Hong Mao discusses the development of a robotic hand.

enhanced. Funding from the Swanson gift will be designated to support additional undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships, which will be critical to attracting greater numbers of top students. Recipients of these awards will be recognized as Swanson Scholars and Swanson Fellows.

Faculty Support A traditional strength of Pitt engineering has been a low studentto-faculty ratio, and this will continue with the creation of new faculty positions as enrollment increases. Swanson’s gift will be used to help attract and retain outstanding faculty through endowed positions, which may include Swanson Chairs, Swanson Professors, or Swanson Faculty Fellows.

SITE The future success of the John A. Swanson Institute for Technical Excellence (SITE) will be ensured through additional programmatic funding made possible by the latest Swanson gift. Since its inception in 2003, more than 500 fee-for-service projects have been completed through SITE with more than 100 companies, including PPG Industries; Bayer; Respironics, Inc.; Westinghouse Electric Corp.; MEDRAD, Inc.; ANSYS; and others. A privately conducted study in 2005 found SITE-related projects helped create more than 225 new or reengineered products, generated more than $13 million in new company revenue, and created more than 260 new jobs.

Student Support Upon completion of the Transformation Plan for Benedum Hall, the school’s capacity for greater enrollment will be significantly

For more information about the Swanson announcement, including an extensive photo gallery and links to two video clips, please visit


transformat Transformation of Benedum Hall Begins

In February 2008, jackhammers began breaking up the sidewalk in front of Benedum Hall and signaled the first sign of what will become familiar sights and sounds in the years ahead. In 2006, the Swanson School of Engineering

began an extensive assessment and planning project to identify critical facilities needs for all academic departments, research programs, and administrative operations. The result for Benedum Hall is a Transformation Plan that will see the construction of a new building and an entire restructuring of the existing building. This plan is expected to result in a total investment of more than $100 million and proceed in two major phases. The signature feature of the Transformation Plan is a new building, which will be dedicated to the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. This project is being made possible through an $8.5 million commitment from Swanson School alumnus and Pittsburgh builder John C. Mascaro (BSCE ’66, MSCE ’80) and is expected to be completed by May 2009. In addition to the new building, Mascaro Center laboratories also will occupy the renovated second floor in Benedum Hall. For more information about the Mascaro Center, please visit

Plan Timeline Phase I Begins: 2008

Future home of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation

• Construction of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation • Lower-level classrooms, laboratories, and new library construction • Auditorium restructured into new classrooms • Fourth floor reconstructed into a nanotechnology research complex • Fifth floor reconstructed into a bioengineering research complex


• Renovation of departments (floors 6–12)

Highlights of the Transformation Plan Engaging Student Areas

New classrooms, a café, student organization offices, and the Bevier Engineering Library will highlight the restructured ground-level floor, creating a student-focused area for study and interaction between classes.

Centralized Administrative Areas The restructured first floor will provide one central location for the school’s administrative offices, providing a welcoming reception area (above) and new conference rooms.

Modern Research Areas Research labs will be designed with fewer walls to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and provide greater flexibility for change.

For more information about the Benedum Hall Transformation Plan, including a video, naming opportunities, and construction photos, please visit SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING 2007 ANNUAL REPORT 5

biomechani Biomechanics Research Vibrant on All Fronts


Davidson (center) and students in his laboratory in Biomedical Science Tower 3

As the Department of Bioengineering caps its first decade, faculty research has entered an exciting new era, particularly in the area of biomechanics. From a single cell to tissues and whole-body systems, faculty members are working on improving quality of life through the practical application of an engineering approach.

Working in the smallest systems is Assistant Professor Lance Davidson, whose laboratory in state-of-the-art Biomedical Science Tower 3 has allowed him to work closely with engineers and biologists on cellular and tissue mechanics. His research aims to improve the design of artificial tissues, but it also seeks to identify the mechanical sources of birth defects. On a larger scale, Michael Sacks, William Kepler Whiteford Professor, is working on the tissues of the cardiovascular and urological systems—particularly the mechanical behavior and function of the native aortic and mitral heart valves—including the development of the first stress-strain models for these tissues using a structural approach. Sacks’ laboratory also is active in the biomechanics of engineered tissues. He is involved in multiscale studies of cell, tissue, and organ mechanical interactions in heart valves.


(Left to right) Prashant Kumta, Edward R. Weidlein Chair; William Wagner, professor; and Charles Sfeir, associate professor, are leading Pitt in biomechanics research.

Under Sacks’ leadership, the National Institutes of Health awarded the department a five-year predoctoral training grant, which is designed to provide a solid foundation for a career in biomechanics in regenerative medicine. The program uses interdisciplinary training with faculty from bioengineering, mechanical engineering, orthopaedic surgery, vascular surgery, urology, and the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, as well as faculty from the Departments of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. David Vorp, associate professor in the Departments of Surgery and Bioengineering, also is using the engineer’s approach to

solve vascular problems by focusing on the assessment of mechanical factors in the origin and progression of conditions such as aneurysms, atherosclerosis, and the failure of vascular grafts. He is involved in the development of tissueengineered blood vessels as well as the biomechanical analysis of vascular devices.

On the largest scale is the work of Assistant Professor Rakié Cham and Professor Mark Redfern, who also serves as vice chair of the undergraduate program and recently was appointed associate dean for research at the Swanson School. Cham’s research interests include preventing falls in older adults, and she works on the biomechanical factors that cause falls, such as slips or trips, as well as the biomechanical requirements necessary for a successful recovery in a particular environment. Her ergonomic projects seek to minimize falls and other musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace. Redfern focuses on two research areas at the Human Movement and Balance Laboratory: human postural control and ergonomics. Postural control research investigates the factors that influence balance, particularly among people with innerear disorders and the elderly. Through his ergonomic research, Redfern seeks to use design to reduce workplace injuries. By better identifying balance problems, Redfern’s research team hopes to use its knowledge to design safer environments for work and home. As part of the department’s 10th anniversary celebration during the past year, donors contributed to the establishment of an Engineering Legacy Fund, an unrestricted endowment that provides much-needed flexible resources. The department also hired a new faculty member, Assistant Professor Aaron Batista, who studies brain circuits that control sensory-motor behavior. Batista’s goal is to develop technologies that can restore motor function to paralyzed people by helping them get motor commands directly from the cerebral cortex. 2008 ANNUAL REPORT 7

rfid center f New Patents, Awards for Spin-offs Reflect Demand for RFID

Enter the RFID Center of Excellence and you might find the namesake tags propelling through a CO2 cartridge at speeds higher than 100 miles per hour before landing in foam rubber at the end of their journey. Why?

“Just to prove we can read them that fast,” says Marlin Mickle, the center’s executive director and Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor. “We break things and shatter things once in a while.” In truth, the testing allows researchers to improve the speed at which radio frequency identification (RFID) tags can be read, substantially improving efficiency. The center is home to countless such innovations, including tests of the tags as required by part 7 of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 18000 series, which regulates RFID technology. To date, the center holds 12 patents, including six that came to fruition this past year. The newest patents are related to technology that allows noncontact recharging of batteries in the tags. Powercast Corp., a company spun off from the center, won best in show for emerging technology from a field of more than 20,000 new products at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The company’s technology already is at work in the Pittsburgh Zoo’s penguin house, where a wireless recharger services a battery in the temperature/humidity sensor terminal. In addition, Powercast is working on the commercialization of energy harvesting technology, which converts radio frequency into DC or electrical energy.


Thanks to the generosity of alumni John Jurenko (BSEE ’56), Wes Pickard (BSMIN ’61), and John Swanson (PhD ’66), Marlin Mickle now has one of the best-equipped RFID laboratories in the world.

According to Mickle, Powercast demonstrates the flexibility of RFID technology and opens a new window into areas where it can be applied. “There are some devices that are just very difficult to take the battery out of, and you want to charge the battery when it stays in place,” Mickle notes.

Powercast Corp., creator of a unique wireless technology, may soon make obsolete the annoying cords, cables, and batteries needed in many portable and remote devices.

Those include cell phones, hearing aids, and wireless PC peripherals, to name a few items. The transmitter can be placed in anything that plugs into the wall, such as a lamp, and can send a low, continuous signal to small gadgets containing an embedded fingernail-sized receiver. Eventually, the whole idea of a battery charger might become obsolete. An anechoic chamber allowing RFID transmissions to occur in a room free of other signals has provided the center with a place to test its innovations and also has allowed the school to rent its use to private companies. A second, Motorola-designed chamber has been a significant asset for the center’s research, Mickle says. The center also is going through alpha testing for a real-time locating system that can work inside a building. One example of its application is to track a first responder who enters a building where an emergency has occurred. An RFID system could follow the person inside the walls, where GPS receivers are less successful. At least five start-up companies and several existing firms have optioned technology from the center this year, further strengthening its image as a cradle of innovation. 2008 ANNUAL REPORT 9

energy dem Swanson School Leads the Search for Solutions to Meet Increased Energy Demand

With oil prices rising to record levels and continued concerns about global warming and political unrest in the Middle East, research exploring the more efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly production of energy is needed now more than ever.

Enter CWP Inc., a consortium in which Pitt researchers are collaborating with colleagues from Carnegie Mellon University and West Virginia University with the help of $26 million in funding through a contract with the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). About 75 scientists from the three universities, as well as their student researchers, are working with more than 150 scientists and researchers from NETL. Their objective is simple, but daunting: to reduce regional and national dependence on foreign oil. “It is clear that the primary challenge for our future is energy,” says W.K. Whiteford Professor J. Karl Johnson. “In the long run, we need to develop environmentally friendly renewable sources of energy. In the short term, we need to make strides in energy efficiency and in utilizing our national energy resources more effectively.”


(From left to right) Associate Professor and CNG Faculty Fellow Götz Veser, Bayer Professor and Chair Robert Enick, and W.K. Whiteford Professor J. Karl Johnson were named fellows of the NETL Institute for Advanced Energy Studies (IAES) along with Associate Professor and W.K. Whiteford Faculty Fellow Joseph McCarthy (not pictured).

The partnership represents the culmination of four years of planning, thanks in part to NETL Office of Research and Development director and Swanson School alumnus Anthony Cugini (BSChE ’81, MSChE ’86, PhD ’93). The three schools wrote their proposal for the consortium and identified eight faculty members from each university who would spend one day a week at the lab fostering an “integrated collaborative approach to solving energy problems,” Johnson notes.

Both Pennsylvania and West Virginia hold millions of tons of coal, a fuel that can meet the country’s energy needs far into the future. Policymakers are calling on the region and the nation to use more of its plentiful coal reserves to increase the nation’s energy security. Consortium scientists believe they can advance research into better ways to use coal and convert it into cleanerburning fuels. Johnson says the group is working to expand and leverage its collaborative approach by writing proposals for external funding. Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, who also chairs the CWP board, says the consortium offers exciting opportunities. “Our researchers are positioned to have a significant and positive impact on the economy, the environment, and national security while further establishing our home region as a leader in energy research,” he says.


center for en New Center for Energy Works to Solve Next Generation’s ‘Defining Social Issue’

Working on the premise that energy will be, in the words of Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor James Maher, “a defining social issue for the next generation,” the Swanson School of Engineering has created a think tank, starring its finest research teams.

Launched in April, the Center for Energy draws upon the work of more than 40 world-class faculty members to apply diverse areas of expertise across the spectrum of energyrelated projects. The center’s five research areas are energy diversification, renewable energy, clean coal technologies, hydrogen, and environmental solutions. Brian Gleeson, Harry S. Tack Chair in Materials Science, serves as the center’s director; Laura Schaefer, Bicentennial Board of Visitors Faculty Fellow and associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, is the associate director. Under their stewardship, the center also will be linked to the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford energy initiative, which seeks to facilitate education and outreach programs in energy, particularly the regional resources of petroleum and renewables (biomass, solar, and wind).

Schaefer and Gleeson

U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering Gerald D. Holder says the Center for Energy’s mission extends beyond research to include partnering with industry, government, and other universities. “We have already developed an educational program in nuclear engineering,” Holder says. “We expect to develop partnerships in other areas, including power transmission and mining engineering.” Already, Pitt researchers are working on a variety of energy solutions, ranging from the development of synthetic and biomass-derived fuels to strategies for harnessing solar energy. These projects stem from what Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg refers to as “the increasing need to address the complex energy challenges of our time, which call for more reliable, efficient, and environmentally friendly energy sources.”

“We want to accelerate our research in order to be positioned to have a significant and positive impact on the environment as well as the economy while further establishing our home region as a leader in energy research,” says Maher.


James J. McCaffrey (BSMIN ’78), senior vice president of CNX Land Resources Inc. and vice president for CONSOL Energy Inc., joined U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering Gerald D. Holder on campus in April to launch the Center for Energy.

Faculty members from the Departments of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Chemistry, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Geology and Planetary Science, Physics and Astronomy, and Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science are contributing their expertise to the new center.

To learn more about ongoing research at the Center for Energy, visit 2008 ANNUAL REPORT 13

nanotechno New Instruments, Groundbreaking Research Highlight Nanotechnology

The Swanson School is home to both a Veeco scanning probe microscope (left) and a Bruker XRD deflectometer (below).

Efforts to detect and diagnose disease are getting a large boost from a tiny frontier, thanks to the latest research in nanotechnology. A revolutionary method for DNA separation sequencing and gene mutation screening has been developed by Di Gao, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering. Gao’s goal is to reduce the cost and increase the speed of mutation screening, which can help scientists pinpoint diseases in patients. The work caught the attention of Nature Nanotechnology as well as the National Science Foundation, which awarded a five-year, $40,000 grant, and the National Institutes of Health, which awarded a $380,000 grant spanning two years. The research involves using electric fields to separate long, double-stranded DNA molecules. This allows the separation of intact chromosomes, says Gao. Gao, who arrived at Pitt in 2005 from the University of California, Berkeley, credits the ability to manipulate surface chemicals and their properties at a nanoscale level with giving him unprecedented capabilities.

“This is very important to understanding the molecular structure aspect,” says Hong Koo Kim, the institute’s codirector. What sets the Swanson School of Engineering apart is the fact that the lab has both sophisticated instruments in one location, a rare asset. Several Pitt research groups from engineering, chemistry, and physics have used the lab, and other universities are making inquiries about using the instruments as well. Some interest also has been expressed by private industry. Nanotechnology is research explored at the molecular and atomic levels. Thanks to the institute’s efforts, the Pittsburgh region is building a reputation as a hub for nanotech research. Collaboration among faculty from various disciplines is unique, as are the institute’s long-range vision and emphasis on fundamentals.

“We’re starting things at a single-molecule level, which we couldn’t do before,” he says.

Di Gao, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, has developed revolutionary methods for DNA separation sequencing and gene mutation screening. 14 SWANSON SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING

New equipment at the Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering is creating a more advanced environment in which nanotechnology research can flourish. In the past year, the lab added two characterization instruments: a Veeco scanning probe microscope, which allows for an analysis of the topographic profile of materials as well as measurement of electrical and magnetic properties, and a Bruker XRD deflectometer, which measures atomic arrangements in materials.


bioengineer department of


George Stetten has been appointed codirector of the MD/PhD bioengineering program.

The work of Sanjeev Shroff was the cover article for the April 11, 2008, issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Shroff is professor and Gerald McGinnis Chair in Bioengineering.

Prestigious Program Pairs Bioengineering and Medicine

This summer marked the 25th anniversary of Pitt’s MD/PhD bioengineering program, one of only 30 Medical Scientist Training Programs (MSTPs) in the United States funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A recent development within this longstanding, successful program is the appointment of Professor George Stetten as codirector. Stetten joins codirector Richard Steinman, associate professor of medicine and pharmacology, and director Clayton Wiley, professor of pathology and director of the Division of Neuropathology. Stetten’s role will be to provide admissions and recruitment resources for the program, particularly on the bioengineering side, and to develop the program’s research strengths in medical imaging, neural engineering, and robotics, which he refers to by the acronym MINER. “Pitt is already one of the top universities in the United States for this area of research,” Stetten says, “and one of the top programs overall when you look at

2008 Quick Facts*


Chair: Harvey Borovetz, professor Faculty: 17 full time; 90 part time Undergraduate Students: 150 Graduate Students: 175, 109 of whom are PhD candidates *fall 2007 data

Prashant Kumta joined the Swanson School in fall 2007 as the Edward R. Weidlein Chair. Kumta’s research interests cover the broad areas of energy storage and biomaterials.

levels of NIH funding.” The achievements of the MD/PhD program reflect this standing: the average MCAT score of admitted students in 2007 was 11.86, and the average GPA was 3.79.

“What makes our program strong,” he says, “is the seamless unity we have between the faculty of the Department of Bioengineering and the School of Medicine. This, along with our partnership with the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute, makes this an ideal program for students wishing to conduct research in any of the MINER disciplines.” MSTP links 17 PhD programs with the Pitt School of Medicine to provide approximately 100 students with a dual-degree program of study. The students in the program matriculate from some of the most prestigious undergraduate institutions in the country—Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and Columbia universities and, of course, Pitt, whose bioengineering graduate program consistently is ranked in the top six public programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Another testament to the quality of the students in MSTP is the number of students receiving full funding. In academic year 2008–09, 18 students will be funded by the MSTP training grant, up from 12 in 2007–08. Students undertaking the PhD in bioengineering also are funded—by individual NIH predoctoral fellowships, individual American Heart Association predoctoral fellowships, and the NIH and National Science Foundation (NSF) research grants of their respective PhD advisors. The real measure of any academic program, however, is the success of its alumni. Stetten notes that more than 80 percent of the program’s alumni who have completed their residencies and fellowships now are either faculty at academic institutions, working in medical industry, or at NIH. “We have a real opportunity to further enhance the Pitt program, especially in terms of its production of clinician-bioengineers,” Stetten says. “The MINER program aims to reinforce bridges between the biomedical and engineering communities here in Pittsburgh. Not only do the students themselves benefit from existing ties between these institutions, but the students also are an important factor in strengthening those ties.”

Department Highlights • Assistant Professor Steven Abramowitch was named a Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health scholar. • Abramowitch received the Achilles Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Research Award from the International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery & Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. • Savio Woo, University Professor and director, Musculoskeletal Research Center, became the first recipient of the University of Washington College of Engineering Diamond Award for Distinguished Achievement in Academia. Woo also was named a Life Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bay Area Knee Society. • Xinyan Tracy Cui, assistant professor, received an NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award and additional project funding. • Assistant Professor Partha Roy received a four-year Minority Graduate Research Supplement for his National Cancer Institute award proposal. • Sanjeev Shroff, professor and Gerald McGinnis Chair in Bioengineering, wrote the cover article for the April 11, 2008, issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. • Professor Rory Cooper received the 2007 da Vinci Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. • Rakié Cham, assistant professor, received a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health RO1 grant. Cham’s research was featured in an NBC Nightly News story about disabling injuries among the elderly related to slips and falls. • Professor Mark Redfern received funding from the National Institute on Aging. 2008 ANNUAL REPORT 17

chemical & department of

chemical & petroleum engineering

Professor J. Karl Johnson (standing at left) was named a fellow of the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory Institute for Advanced Energy Studies.

Robert Parker (left) and Joseph McCarthy (at right, second from right) are leading the way for national chemical engineering curriculum reform.

Leading the Way for National Curriculum Reform

In 1910, Pitt introduced one of the world’s first petroleum engineering degrees. Today, the Pitt Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering remains a leader in curriculum design as one of only a handful of universities in the nation to be sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to implement department-level curricular reform. Led by Joseph J. McCarthy, associate professor and William Kepler Whiteford Faculty Fellow, and Robert S. Parker, associate professor, the award-winning Pillars of Chemical Engineering: A Block Scheduled Curriculum is one of the world’s only fully integrated chemical engineering curricula.

Named Pillars because it focuses on integrating the fundamentals, or pillars, of chemical engineering—foundations, thermodynamics, transport phenomena, reactive process engineering, and process systems engineering—using a block-scheduling model, the innovative program has drawn the attention of faculty and media regionally and nationally. McCarthy; Parker; and Mary BesterfieldSacre, associate professor of industrial engineering, who also has been involved in redeveloping the curriculum, received the 2008 Carnegie Science Center Award for Excellence in Higher Education for their pioneering approach.

2008 Quick Facts*


Chair: Robert M. Enick, Bayer Professor Faculty: 14 full time; 15 part time; 4 emeritus Undergraduate Students: 176 Graduate Students: 45 *fall 2007 data

“What makes the Pillars Curriculum innovative,” says Parker, “is that students are shown the big picture of chemical engineering from the start.” Before, students were required to take three- or four-credit theory courses along with separate laboratory courses. This led to a somewhat disjointed approach to both teaching and learning. Parker and McCarthy designed the Pillars Curriculum so that students would take the theory, lab, and recitation components as unified semester-long five- or six-credit courses. This model ensures more interaction between the faculty and students while eliminating the conflicts that can result from students’ taking multiple chemical engineering classes from multiple professors in the same term. “The larger class package provides three key things,” continues McCarthy, who will speak about the Pillars Curriculum at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) national meeting in 2008. “First, students and faculty have more time to connect theory with application. Second, students get to see the big picture by tackling a set of problems that go across all the

scales—nano, micro, meso, and macro. And third, the structure better accommodates diverse learning styles, so that students who take better to application than theory or to theory than application are both guided more closely, all under one roof.”

To learn more about the Pillars Curriculum, please visit to watch McCarthy, Parker, and Besterfield-Sacre being interviewed on Our Region’s Business, produced by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and WPXI-TV.

Department Highlights • Assistant Professor and Bicentennial Alumni Faculty Fellow Steven Little, also a Clinical Research scholar through the National Institutes of Health, was awarded a Beckman Foundation Young Investigator Award for his research on synthetic dendritic cells. • Bayer Professor and Chair Robert M. Enick, W.K. Whiteford Professor J. Karl Johnson, Associate Professor and W.K Whiteford Faculty Fellow Joseph McCarthy, and Associate Professor and CNG Faculty Fellow Götz Veser were named fellows of the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) Institute for Advanced Energy Studies (IAES). • McCarthy made the Perspectives section of the February 14, 2008, issue of Science. • Veser received the R.A. Glenn Award from the Division of Fuel Chemistry of the American Chemical Society. • Di Gao, assistant professor, received an NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award and an American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund grant and recently was featured in Nature Nanotechnology. • Professor Emeritus Shiao-Hung Chiang received the American Filtration and Separations Society Lifetime Achievement Award. • Associate Professor Emeritus James T. Cobb Jr. received the AIChE Gary Leach Award for the second time in his career. • Anna Balazs, Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Robert von der Luft Professor, was featured in COSMOS magazine’s March 28, 2008, issue in the article “Chemical Signaling Drives Nanomachines.” 2008 ANNUAL REPORT 19

civil & envir department of

Willie F. Harper Jr. (left) joined the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as an associate professor. His research focuses on biological processes for environmental engineering.

civil & environmental engineering

Melissa Bilec (right), codirector of the Center for Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure, at the site of the Hot Metal Pedestrian Bridge Project.

Redeveloping the Groundwork

About the impact of the new Center for Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure (CSTI), Radisav Vidic, CSTI codirector, professor, and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, says, “The infrastructure issues we are solving for Pennsylvania will benefit the entire country.”

Vidic is referring to the aging infrastructure and transportation systems across the nation. He is convinced that the research CSTI is doing can serve as a resource for municipalities across the country as sustainability becomes an increasingly important goal of many corporations and governments. Last year, on behalf of the University of Pittsburgh and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Vidic signed an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Soon after, he and codirector Melissa Bilec established CSTI to expand upon the efforts of the IGA, which provides up to $25 million in funding over the next five years. In its first year, contracts totaling $3 million already were under way at CSTI. CSTI serves as the hub for faculty across the department and University as well as for partners in industry and the government who share a common interest in sustainable infrastructure and transportation. Current projects involve the teamwork of 14 Swanson School faculty members, 27 collaborators from PennDOT, and 20 students. The lineup of projects from this first year is expansive and has included the following:

In its first year, contracts totaling $3 million already were under way at the Center for Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure, which serves as a hub for faculty across the department and University as well as for partners in industry and the government who share a common interest in sustainable infrastructure and transportation. Current projects involve the teamwork of 14 Swanson School faculty members, 26 collaborators from PennDOT, and 20 students.


2008 Quick Facts* Chair: Radisav D. Vidic, professor Faculty: 13 full time; 14 part time Undergraduate Students: 275 Graduate Students: 75 *fall 2007 data

• measuring the response of jointed plain concrete pavement to applied vehicle loads • researching repair methods for prestressed girder bridges • developing acid rock discharge mitigation strategies • planning a rational procedure for rock slope designs • sensing technology for damage assessment of sign supports • establishing the inputs for the new rigid component of the Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide • analyzing the impacts of mine subsidence over roadways

• studying the feasibility of biodiesel fuels and lubricants • developing remote sensing for bridge scour • conducting a market analysis of construction materials

In addition to conducting this research, CSTI offers education and outreach programs to municipalities across Pennsylvania. When asked what’s next on the agenda for CSTI, Vidic explains that CSTI is working with Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs to promote the benefits of vanpooling, using the popular University of Pittsburgh vanpool as a model. “We have a very sustainable vanpool model that we can promote nationwide,” Vidic says. “The economic savings to commuters alone are amazing, and we plan to look at the cost savings to infrastructure and the entire region.”

Department Highlights • Assistant Professor Amy Landis contributed to a feature in the August 1, 2007, issue of Environmental Science & Technology. • Xu Liang, associate professor, received a National Science Foundation grant for her collaborative/parallel research on sensor and wireless sensor networks for environmental monitoring. • Faculty members Ronald D. Neufeld, J.S. Lin, Luis Vallejo, Kent Harries, Julie Vandenbossche, Piervincenzo Rizzo, Melissa Bilec, Joe Marriott, and Landis received funding from PennDOT. • Rizzo received a 2007 American Society for Nondestructive Testing Faculty Grant Award. • Vandenbossche received funding from the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies Strategic Highway Research Program. • Bilec and Landis received funding from the Green Building Alliance. • Radisav Vidic, chair and professor, received the Professor of the Year Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers, Pittsburgh chapter. • Vidic and Janet Stout, research associate professor, received an 18-month grant from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc.


electrical & department of

electrical & computer engineering

Allen Cheng

Developing a Device to Help Heart Attack Victims

Someday, heart attack sufferers may be able to thank Allen Cheng for their survival. Cheng, assistant professor, is developing CardioPro, a cell phone device that links cardiovascular disease (CVD) patients directly to cardiologists, thereby increasing the accuracy of care and the response time of paramedics and other medical service providers. Through funding from Microsoft Research, Cheng will be designing both the hardware and the electrocardiogram (ECG) software for CardioPro. Today, patients with CVD are required to visit a hospital or monitoring facility to receive an ECG, a process that, while effective in monitoring the heart for signs of heart disease or abnormalities, is time-consuming and expensive. Moreover, ECGs measure the heart at the time of the test, detecting patterns that change over time due to stress and other health factors; thus, critical yet transient CVD signs can be easily overlooked. “We want to help people by creating a portable healthy heart solution that will constantly monitor heart conditions,” says Cheng. “We want it to be easier for the patient, and [we want] to provide constant and real-time data for the doctors.” It was important, then, for Cheng to create a device that doesn’t require carrying around extra gadgets but one that a patient would be using anyway, such as a cell phone. 

Kevin Chen, associate professor and Paul E. Lego Faculty Fellow, received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award. Chen engages in a wide spectrum of interdisciplinary research, both exploring technology frontiers and developing engineering solutions for sustainability, energy, biomedicine, homeland security, and more.


2008 Quick Facts*

Chair: William Stanchina, professor Faculty: 24 full time; 4 part time Undergraduate Students: 360 Graduate Students: 89 *fall 2007 data

CardioPro will work on a high-tech cell phone, or smartphone, that will communicate wirelessly with a heart sensor that the patient will wear. Simply put, the CardioPro program will be another option embedded into the cell phone, every bit as easy to use and access as an address book or text messaging program. At regular intervals, continuously, or on demand, the cell phone will provide feedback to both the patient and the cardiologist about the patient’s heart, both in ECG format and everyday language, enabling remote home monitoring while also allowing the patient to have control and understanding of his or her health. Real-time data will be available any time the patient or doctor would like to view it, so if the patient is feeling chest pains, an immediate record is available.

Pat Loughlin is the William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Together with Mark Redfern in the Department of Bioengineering and other colleagues, Loughlin has been researching “Modeling Sensory Integration and Attention in Postural Control of Older Adults,” a project funded by the National Institute on Aging.

In addition to feeding the doctor regular data, CardioPro will change the way emergency situations are handled.

“During an emergency situation such as a heart attack, the cell phone will detect changes in the heart and automatically contact 911, the family, and the doctor,” Cheng says. “The phone will be equipped with a geographical positioning system, too, so that the patient can be located precisely for care. We hope this will increase the heart attack survival rate.”

Cheng’s proposal was one of only 14 worldwide to receive Microsoft Research’s Cell Phone as a Platform for Healthcare award.

Department Highlights • Professor Emeritus Tom Cain was the 2008 recipient of the IEEE Richard M. Emberson Award. • Professor C.C. Li earned AAAS fellow status. • Associate Professor and Paul E. Lego Faculty Fellow Kevin Chen received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award and funding from the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). • Assistant Professor Jun Yang received an NSF CAREER award for “Thermal Aware Task Scheduling for Embedded Planar and 3-D Chip Multiprocessors.” • The electrical engineering undergraduate degree program began a new area of concentration in electric power, with one-fifth of students choosing this concentration in its first year. • Professor Patrick Loughlin received funding from the National Institute on Aging for an RO1 grant application. • Professor Joel Falk received funding from NETL. • Alex Jones, assistant professor, received funding from NSF and the Technology Collaborative. • Assistant Professors Zhi-Hong Mao and Heung-no Lee, along with Professor Mingui Sun, received an NSF grant for “Dimensionality Reduction in the Control of the Human Hand.” • Allen Cheng, assistant professor, received funding from NSF and Microsoft Research. 2008 ANNUAL REPORT 23

industrial en department of

Associate Professor Andrew Schaefer (pictured here) and Assistant Professor Oleg Prokopyev are developing a class of multistage stochastic mixed-integer programming (SMIP) models that will help optimize the production of flu shots. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

industrial engineering

Department Chair Bopaya Bidanda (front) and students tour Hindustan Aeronautics Limited as part of Engineering and Business Collaborations in India, one of the study abroad programs available to Pitt industrial engineering students. Last year, the department became among the first in the nation to require that students travel internationally.

IE Goes International

Students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering (IE) from Pitt now will be even more competitive in a global market. Last year, the Department of Industrial Engineering became among the first in the nation to require that students complete an international academic experience. “This cross-cultural experience provides a significant advantage to our students when they enter the global marketplace,” says Bopaya Bidanda, Ernest E. Roth Professor and department chair. Bidanda personally helped students gain this experience when he and G.G. Hegde, associate professor in Pitt’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, developed the Engineering and Business Collaborations in India course. This past May, Bidanda and Hegde led nine students to the Indian economic hub of Bangalore to study Indian business, economic, and cultural practices. “By observing India’s rapidly growing economy firsthand, students will benefit when they compete for jobs and work on projects that require international collaboration,” Bidanda says.

Students met with senior executives and delved into the daily operations of companies, including software development, aircraft manufacturing, and coffee picking and drying. The group visited Indian-owned businesses, such as Asia’s largest aerospace company, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, as well as Americanowned operations in Bangalore, including Kennametal Inc., technology firm iGATE Corp., and Accusys Inc.

2008 Quick Facts*


Chair: Bopaya Bidanda, Ernest E. Roth Professor Faculty: 14 full time; 5 part time Undergraduate Students: 166 Graduate Students: 76, 32 of whom are PhD candidates *fall 2007 data

“We want the students to observe how the American and Indian economies are intertwined, to trace how a coffee bean goes from a plantation in rural Kodagu, India, to a cup of Starbucks coffee bought in Pittsburgh,” Bidanda says. “I want them to see the strong, positive energy in such cities as Bangalore. Every day, Indian newspapers are full of stories about companies creating hundreds of new jobs—a stark contrast to our current economic challenges. We want Pitt students to bring their knowledge of India back home and use it to attract and work with Indian companies.

Mary Besterfield-Sacre, Fulton C. Noss Faculty Fellow, along with Larry Shuman, professor and senior associate dean for academic affairs, is leading a $2 million NSF grant to study modeling and engineering problem solving.

“In business, it is said, ‘know your customer’ and ‘know your partner,’ ” Bidanda relates. “U.S. and Indian business relationships will continue to grow. If our students study and learn firsthand the principles and techniques Indian businesses employ, then their education will be even more complete.”

Bidanda’s vision for incorporating international education into IE degrees doesn’t end with India. “I’d like to see our faculty and students on every continent,” he explains. Already, the department has collaborations in Asia and Europe and has plans to take international study to South America in 2009. Initially, there was some concern that requiring international travel might affect enrollment negatively because of the added cost and time. The department has, in fact, experienced an increase in enrollment since requiring the international component. “While we cannot directly attribute the rise in enrollment to the international requirement,” says Karen Bursic, assistant professor and undergraduate program director, “the global opportunity we provide appears to have sparked additional interest in our industrial engineering degrees.” Excerpted from the Pitt Chronicle, April 27, 2008

Department Highlights • Assistant Professor Karen Bursic was named director of the department’s undergraduate program. • Assistant Professor Lisa Maillart received a National Science Foundation grant for “Optimal Management of Expedited Placement Livers.” • Assistant Professor Oleg Prokopyev was awarded a grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to further the body of knowledge in the area of stochastic integer optimization and related applications. • Burhan Sandikci (PhD ’08) will join the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business as a tenure-track faculty member.


mechanical department of

mechanical engineering & materials science

Nuclear Engineering a Natural Fit

As the global thirst for energy outpaces the ready supply, the Pitt Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) is taking part in the resurgence of nuclear power as one alternative to fossil fuels.

The recently approved Graduate and Undergraduate Certificates in Nuclear Engineering offer students access to the region’s distinct concentration of nuclear energy experts from companies such as Bechtel Bettis, Inc., a naval nuclear propulsion research laboratory; Westinghouse Electric Corp., one of the world’s largest vendors of nuclear reactor technology; and FirstEnergy Corp., which operates the Beaver Valley Power Station nuclear power plant in Shippingport, Pa. An advisory committee of engineers and managers from these three companies took part in designing the curriculum to ensure that students learn the most relevant and up-to-date information, and experts from those companies also serve as adjunct professors. Noted nuclear engineer Larry R. Foulke directs Pitt’s program and serves as an adjunct professor. Among the first

2008 Quick Facts* Brian Gleeson joined the department in fall 2007 as the Harry S. Tack Chair in Materials Science. He was named director of Pitt’s new Center for Energy (see p. 12 for story). Gleeson’s primary research focus is on the thermodynamics and kinetics of gas/solid and solid/solid reactions.


Chair: Minking K. Chyu, Leighton E. and Mary N. Orr Chair in Engineering Faculty: 27 full time; 19 part time/adjunct/research Undergraduate Students: 370 Graduate Students: 110 *fall 2007 data

Lisa Weiland, assistant professor, received an National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award. Her research focuses on the experimentand physics-based constitutive modeling of smart materials, with a strong secondary emphasis on applications.

generation of nuclear engineers, Foulke joined Pitt’s faculty following a 40-year career that included managing reactor safety, training, and simulation programs for Westinghouse and Bechtel Bettis. He is a past president of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) and, as current chair of the ANS Public Policy Committee, regularly meets with members of the U.S. Congress about matters pertaining to nuclear science and energy.

The nuclear engineering certificates specifically were designed to give students the education that today’s companies and facilities want their nuclear engineers to have, Foulke says. “It’s natural for Pitt to offer a nuclear engineering education—we’re surrounded by one of the largest concentrations of nuclear engineering experts in the world,” he says. “Our nuclear engineering program is driven by the workforce needs of these facilities. We asked them what knowledge our graduates should have, then designed our courses.” The program will be developed further with the help of grants, including a $600,000 educational grant awarded by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. A large portion of the NRC grant will go toward developing a distance learning component for teaching students across Pennsylvania and offering further education to nuclear engineers already in the workplace. For more information, visit the Web site for the undergraduate certificate at nuclear-certificate.html or for the graduate certificate at

Department Highlights • Jeffrey Vipperman, associate professor, was elected a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). He is the new graduate director of mechanical engineering.

• Lisa Weiland, assistant professor, was a recipient of a 2008 NSF CAREER award for her research proposal, “High Performance, Mechanically Robust Ionometric Sensors.” • Qing-Ming Wang, associate professor and William Kepler Whiteford Faculty Fellow, received an Outstanding Paper Award from the IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control society. • The work of Sung Kwon Cho, assistant professor, and his students was recognized as an application highlight in both Chemical Technology and Chemistry World magazines. Their NSF-sponsored work was on in-droplet particle separation.

• Jörg Wiezorek, associate professor and William Kepler Whiteford Faculty Fellow, was named director of materials science.

• Patrick Smolinski, associate professor, and Freddie Fu, David Silver Professor and chair of the Pitt Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, received the Arthroscopy Association of North America Resident/Fellow Essay Award in the basic science category.

• Peyman Givi, William Kepler Whiteford Professor, was named 2007 Engineer of the Year by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Pittsburgh chapter, and was elected a fellow of the American Physics Society (APS).

• Associate Professor and Bicentennial Board of Visitors Faculty Fellow Laura Schaefer and Vipperman received an NSF grant to research “Miniaturization of Thermoacoustic Engines and Refrigerators.” 2008 ANNUAL REPORT 27

diversity Benjamin Gordon (shown here with his faculty mentor, Jeffrey Vipperman), was a 2007 Barry M. Goldwater scholar and inaugural recipient of the George Washington Prize. Gordon received his BS degree from the Swanson School in 2007 and has decided to pursue his graduate degree in mechanical engineering here as well. Retention of underrepresented students in engineering remains a core priority for the Engineering Office of Diversity.


office of diversity

New Strategies Support Growth, Scholarship

Recruitment and retention of a diverse student population remain major priorities of the Engineering Office of Diversity (EOD). To that end, EOD staff members have implemented an aggressive recruitment strategy this past year, which included increasing fellowship opportunities at both the school and University level as well as opportunities through national organizations such as the National GEM (Graduate Engineering Minority) Consortium, of which Pitt is an active member. The program awards fellowships for students to obtain MS and PhD degrees in engineering through a program of paid summer internships and graduate financial assistance. This program has proved to be successful over the years, with several GEM scholars completing master’s degrees and one GEM scholar completing both an MS and a PhD in the Swanson School. One new GEM scholar will begin studying in the Swanson School this fall. Additionally, EOD assumed the lead in pursuing a new Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), which aims to organize a systemic, multicampus framework to support the identification, recruitment, retention, graduation, and placement of traditionally underrepresented PhD students in academic faculty careers in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.

2008 graduates Cameo Rowe Jr. (left) and Melissa Angeles. Rowe served as publications chair of the National Society of Black Engineers Pitt chapter and founded its magazine, The Torch. Angeles conducted research through the Pitt EXCEL Program, was involved with the Filipino Students Association, and was a member of Engineers for a Sustainable World.


One recent retention success story is that of Benjamin Gordon, a current graduate student and 2007 Barry M. Goldwater scholar. This past year, Gordon received the inaugural George Washington Prize, a $5,000 award presented annually to a Swanson School senior to help further that student’s engineering education. With this support, Gordon, who received his BS in mechanical engineering in December 2007 and was a student in the University Honors College, was able to continue

his education at Pitt as a graduate student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. Gordon has exhibited particular devotion to both bettering his profession and encouraging young African Americans to pursue engineering careers. Minority Opinion magazine recognized his dedication by presenting him with its 2007 Black Achievers Award. From 2006 to 2007, Gordon served as chair of and a mentor for the National Society of Black Engineers GEMSTONE program, for which he helped engineering freshmen at Pitt transition to college life and excel academically.

Increasing diversity among faculty also remains a priority of the Swanson School. This past academic year, Willie F. Harper Jr. joined the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as an associate professor. Harper received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2002. His research group is interested in biological processes for environmental engineering—including engineered systems such as biological wastewater treatment processes—and also natural systems such as wetlands and estuaries. Before joining the Swanson School, Harper served on the faculty at Auburn University, where he was honored with an Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in 2007. Harper also is a recipient of a prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award. A licensed professional engineer in the state of Arizona, he has authored or coauthored 25 journal articles, conference proceedings, and book chapters. He has participated in many community outreach programs and youth mentoring efforts.

Office Highlights • Sylvanus Wosu, associate dean for diversity and associate professor, is a certified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory. He worked with several programs within the school this past year to help to develop competence in leading, working, and succeeding in an increasingly diverse global workplace and marketplace. • Njideka Mbonu, a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering, received an American Chemical Society PRF Underrepresented Minority Research Fellowship, in the amount of $5,000, to conduct research with Di Gao, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering.

• The Swanson School’s African American and Hispanic populations have increased from 5.27 to 5.51 percent and from 1.1 to 1.3 percent, respectively. Female enrollment makes up 20.38 percent of the undergraduate population and 31.9 percent of the graduate population. • One hundred percent of the 53 Pitt Engineering Career Access Program (PECAP) precollege component graduates enrolled in college in fall 2007, exceeding the goal of 95 percent. Fourteen graduates chose to major in engineering, seven were accepted by the Swanson School, and four enrolled. This more than doubled the goal of 25 percent of engineering majors enrolling in the Swanson School. • Precollege outreach to out-of-state students continued to improve through the Critical and Analytical Reasoning Enrichment (CARE) summer program. During summer 2007, the last term for which data were available at the time of publication, out-of-state participants numbered nearly double that of the previous year, with students coming from Maryland, New York, and Virginia. One student was from Ethiopia. • Pitt EXCEL—a comprehensive program committed to the recruitment, retention, and graduation of academically excellent engineering undergraduates, particularly individuals from groups traditionally underrepresented in the field—continues to provide academic counseling, tutoring, engineering research and mentoring opportunities, graduate school preparation, and career development workshops. New programming implemented in 2007–08 included an engineering research living-learning community, a fall retreat, an EXCEL peer mentoring program, and a post-midterm family dinner. More than 120 students participated in services offered by the Pitt EXCEL Program. • The EOD Diversity Action Plan would not be complete without goals that include faculty and staff diversity initiatives. EOD offered programs for faculty and staff members, including seminars on sexual harassment, generational differences, graduate education, valuing diversity in interpersonal relationships, and cross-cultural communications. 2008 ANNUAL REPORT 29

students Students 2008 Swanson School graduates José Bernardo (MEMS), John Bennewitz (MEMS), Michael Chrin (ECE), and Adam Wick (MEMS) were selected to participate in NASA’s Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program.

Going Weightless for NASA

“Today was one of the best days of my life! It was a very exciting experience to finally be in microgravity (which we have all been anticipating for months :) ),” writes José Bernardo on his blog. “We … DID NOT GET SICK,” he says. John Bennewitz further elaborates, “The closest description of zero gravity I can give is that I subconsciously felt like I was upside down, but my eyes were facing normal.”

Along with Michael Chrin and Adam Wick, Bernardo and Bennewitz graduated from the Swanson School this past April to immediately join another university, the Microgravity University, or NASA’s Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program, in which undergraduate teams propose and test in zero gravity research that is of value to NASA. Forty teams were invited this year to Houston’s Johnson Space Center to test their ideas aboard a reduced gravity aircraft—a C-9 airplane plummeting toward Earth, resulting in about 30 seconds of weightlessness. Bernardo, Bennewitz, Chrin, and Wick were the first Pitt students in history to participate in the program, which culminated their undergraduate experience. The Pitt team, called Phoenix, began testing and flying in June, experimenting with a design that could improve the onboard thruster system that keeps a satellite in orbit. Pressurized helium used to regulate the flow of thruster fuel creates bubbles that plug the satellites’ fuel lines and interfere with the navigational thrusters. The problem could stem from the fuel tubes on modern satellites being either straight or sharply bent, Bennewitz says. The team proposed using curved tubes to prevent the blockage. NASA called the proposal “technically strong,” Wick says. Then they got to see if it would work. Once in Houston, the team conducted 40 trials in zero gravity over two days. As the plane dives, the tubes—one per trial—are flooded with faux fuel until a bubble plug forms. Once the team knew how much fluid must pass through a certain tube before it became blocked, it could determine which bend degree was the least susceptible to obstruction, Bernardo says. A testament to the high caliber of the team’s experiment is that many of the other teams in the NASA program come from universities with an aerospace focus, including Purdue University, one of the world’s premier aerospace institutions, says the 30 SWANSON SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING

team’s advisor, Jeffrey Vipperman, an associate professor in the Swanson School’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. The Swanson School does not have a formal aerospace program. “They were accepted to a program that draws largely from formal aerospace programs, and it’s a really elite group of undergraduates who are accepted,” he says.

“These four found a problem somewhat outside of their expertise, they researched it, and they put together a comprehensive approach to solving it. For them to participate says that they are natural scientists and engineers, but it also means that Pitt students can successfully compete in this program,” Vipperman adds. The Pitt team, Phoenix, kept a blog about its zero gravity experiences in Houston online at Excerpted from the Pitt Chronicle, April 27, 2008

Six Years in a Row A Swanson School student has won a 2008 Goldwater Scholarship, continuing the school’s tradition of winning the prestigious national award. Todd Morton Moyle, a chemical engineering undergraduate, has been awarded a 2008 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for his exceptional independent research in engineering. Moyle, also a University Honors College student, is from Sayre, Pa. Moyle has researched the potential use of vegetable oil as an alternative fuel. His work focuses on developing a blend of vegetable oil and other additives that would run on standard diesel automobiles without modifications. Results of this work were presented at the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research and the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education. Moyle’s primary interest is in pharmaceutical development and production research. He plans to pursue a master’s degree involving pharmaceutical manufacturing and then to work toward either an MD, focusing on clinical research of pharmaceuticals, or a PhD in biomedical engineering, concentrating on drug delivery systems and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Moyle is the sixth consecutive Pitt engineering student to earn a Goldwater Scholarship. Benjamin Gordon (BSME ’07), now a mechanical engineering graduate student at Pitt, won the award



in 2007; Margaret Bennewitz (BSBEG ’07) won the award in 2006 and is pursuing a graduate degree in bioengineering at Yale University; Daliang “Leon” Li (BSEE ’06), who won the award in 2005, currently is pursuing a PhD in medical and electrical engineering at Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology; Daniel Armanios (BSME ’07), who earned the award in 2004 and was named a Truman scholar in 2005 and a Rhodes scholar in 2007, now is in England, pursuing his graduate degree at the University of Oxford; and Paul Ohodnicki Jr. (BSE ’05), who is a doctoral student in materials science and engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, won the award in 2003.

Student Highlights • Chad E. Eckert (BSMSE ’05), a graduate student researcher in bioengineering, received the National Science Foundation East Asian and Pacific Island Summer Institutes award to study at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Only 195 such awards are funded each year from the United States. • Burhan Sandikci received a Bonder Scholarship for Applied Operations Research in Health Services from INFORMS (the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences). Sandikci is the second industrial engineering student at Pitt to win the Bonder Scholarship in the past three years. • Micah Toll was inducted into the National Gallery for America’s Young Inventors for his project, “Rebuilding Lives in Postcatastrophic Disaster and War-torn Areas—A New Technology for Portable Constructional Elements and Their Production and Use as a Comprehensive Solution System to Improve Disaster Response, Relief, and Recovery Efforts.” His project won second place in the 2006 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and was a national semifinalist in the 2007 International Science and Engineering Fair. • Xiaoyan Zhang received a 2007 Erin McGurk Research Grant from the Orthopaedic Research Laboratory Alumni Council for her project, “A Subject-specific Finite Element Model of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament.” • Shawn Burton, Kate Campbell, Ted Kastenhuber, Amy McCarty, Bradley Morneweck, Bailey Roche, Benjamin Schmidt, and Christopher Withers received National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance stipends for their senior design projects. 2008 ANNUAL REPORT 31

external rel External Relations

Bill Mallin (BSIE ’55) learns more about the campaign’s impact.

Dean Holder announced an initial $5 million lead gift from Jack Mascaro (BSCE ’66, MSCE ’80), center, toward the construction of the new Mascaro Center building.

This past year marked another record for the Foundations for Greatness campaign, as the school paused to celebrate surpassing the $100 million goal.

2008 Distinguished Alumni

With the announcement that Pitt’s overall campaign goal was being raised to $2 billion, the Swanson School of Engineering now is attempting to reach a new campaign target of $175 million. As of June 30, 2008, more than $148 million has been committed toward this goal by alumni and friends.

Department Honorees

Swanson School of Engineering Honoree Mahmoud K. Dabbous (MSPET ’69, PhD ’71) President and CEO The IPR Group of Companies Irving, Texas

Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Raymond P. Niro (BSChE ’64) Founder and President Niro, Scavone, Haller & Niro Chicago, Ill. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering James J. Lombardi (BSCE ’72) Executive Vice President SAI Consulting Engineers, Inc. Pittsburgh, Pa.

Engineering Endowment

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Marlin H. Mickle (BSEE ’61, MSEE ’63, PhD ’67) Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor and Executive Director, RFID Center of Excellence Swanson School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pa.



Department of Industrial Engineering Barbara L. Shelton (BSIE ’79) Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator U.S. General Services Administration Philadelphia, Pa.


2003 Book Value

Campaign Celebration 2002



Market Value $20






Jim and Regis Stana

Engineering Legacy Funds In just three years, more than 70 Legacy Funds, with a total value of more than $1.3 million, have been established. These unrestricted endowments can be designated for schoolwide uses, as determined by the dean, or for a specific department, providing department chairs with much-needed flexible resources.

Many Legacy Funds have been established by alumni in recognition or in memory of others. Paul Gerrie (BSPET ’68), now an Oregon winemaker, named his Legacy Fund in memory of professor Paul Fulton (BSPET ’38, MSPET ’51), and Jim Stana (BSME ’73) and his brother, Regis Stana (BSChE ’63, MSChE ’65, PhD ’67), both of Florida, named their Legacy Fund in memory of their father. For more information about Legacy Funds and stories of other donors, please visit More Outreach Activities The Office of Development and Alumni Relations coordinated more events and activities than ever during the 2007–08 academic year, highlighted by on-campus corporate events; award-winning publications; regional events in Houston, Los Angeles, Tampa, and Boston; and record turnouts for the annual golf outing and homecoming celebration. For more information about our external relations programs, please visit or call 412-624-2344.

Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Edward F. Sobota (BSMET ’67) President TechSpec, Inc. Derry, Pa.


More than 100 guests attended a special event on September 28, 2007, to celebrate surpassing the $100 million goal.

Paul Gerrie

2008 Distinguished Alumni





Distinguished Young Alumni Award Alka Patel (BSMSE ’96) Attorney-at-Law Pepper Hamilton LLP Pittsburgh, Pa.

Golf Outing 2008

Homecoming 2007

Swanson School of Engineering 1140 Benedum Hall 3700 O’Hara Street Pittsburgh, PA 15261

The University of Pittsburgh is an affirmative action, equal opportunity institution. Published in cooperation with the Department of University Marketing Communications. UMC64227-0908 34 SWANSON SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING

Engineering_Annual report 2008  

editor, project manager

Engineering_Annual report 2008  

editor, project manager