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Newsletter Fall 2015 President Obama Highlights Boise State’s Innovative Culture By: Sherry Squires President Barack Obama highlighted innovation at Boise State during his remarks when he visited campus in January. “Here at Boise State innovation is a culture that you’re building,” President Obama said. “And you’re also partnering with companies to do two things — you help students graduate with skills that employers are looking for, and you help employees pick up the skills they need to advance on the job … it’s contributing to the economic development of the city and the state, as well as being good for the students.” Boise State was the President’s first stop after his 2015 State of the Union address. Before delivering his speech on campus, the President visited Boise State’s College of Engineering and the New Product Development Lab, a collaborative effort housed in engineering and managed by the College of Business and Economics. continued on page 5

Startup Licenses Technology Developed at Boise State By: Kathleen Tuck A newly launched company called Knowm Inc., a start-up that pioneers nextgeneration advanced computing architectures and technology, plans to build and commercialize the world’s first adaptive neuromemristive processor. That dream is based in part on memristor technology developed by Kris Campbell, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Boise State University. Memristors are tiny electronic devices that remember and respond, mimicking synapses in the human brain. Photo: Knowm Inc.

Knowm recently announced the commercial availability of its first products, including discrete memristor chips. The company is licensing Campbell’s memristor technology from Boise State and the product will be prepared in the university’s Idaho Microfabrication Lab in the College of Engineering. The technology is aimed at overcoming Moore’s Law, which is the observation made in 1965 that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits has doubled every year. “We’ve reached a tipping point in computing as the market is discovering the exciting potential of artificial intelligence applications, while concurrently Moore’s Law is being halted in its tracks due to physical size limitations of transistors,” said Tim Molter, CTO, Knowm Inc. “With Thermodynamic RAM (kT-RAM), we will see a quantum leap in power, speed and size metrics, leaving competing technologies far behind.”

The company believes this new synaptic processor (kT-RAM) will allow for higher performance computing tasks to be undertaken while maintaining manageable power and infrastructure costs for more advanced applications. “If big data has taught us anything, it’s that there are limitations in performing at scale, particularly with projects requiring the use of machine learning to perform complex tasks in near real-time, such as the detection of security anomalies within petabytes of network traffic,” said Brad Shimmin, service director for business technology and software at Current Analysis. “Knowm’s unique approach to ‘soft-hardware’ with neuromemristive processors presents the industry with some intriguing opportunities to create highly differentiated applications of advanced analytics capable of scaling to meet even the most extreme data requirements.” continued on page 7

From the Dean’s Desk

Outstanding Women in Engineering – & Competitive Athletes, Too!

Last January, when President Obama visited Boise State University, we took him on a whirlwind tour of the College of Engineering. Although his visit with us only lasted about 15 minutes, we packed a lot in! He met students, faculty and staff who showed him cutting edge technology in the New Product Development Lab. We were impressed by his knowledge and interest, and even joked with him about whether he had actually gone to engineering school. Imagine what we could have shown him if he had stayed for an entire day!

Why is it that engineering often comes along with an extra gift? No-one really knows. You hear of talented musicians also being good at math, which explains why we have so many musical engineers. But it turns out that at Boise State, for some students, an ability in competitive sports also goes along with an aptitude for engineering. At Boise State, a group of our engineering women students are also competitive athletes.

We might have started out at the Grant Avenue Annex with a walk through the new Engineering Tutoring Center (more about this on the back page). From there, we could cross the street and check out some of the ongoing student club projects inside the Harry Morrison Lab, such as the mini-Baja vehicle. In the Engineering building, we could peek into the Microfabrication Lab where the world’s first adaptive neuromemristive processor is being developed (more about this on the front page). Based on his enthusiasm for “young people doing science”, I think the President would enjoy attending the Solar Go-Kart Challenge competiton, an extracurricular program aimed at getting high school students excited about STEM hosted by Greenspeed Resarch Inc. Maybe we could even arrange for the President to visit our Senior Design Showcase to see the imagination and creativity our students are demonstrating in every discipline here in the College. With even more time, we could take the President on a road trip, where he could see that Boise State engineering isn’t limited to what’s happening on our campus. We could stop off at the Minidoka National Historic Site near Jerome, Idaho, where construction management students reconstructed the historic guard tower. All across the country, there would be professional technical conferences to visit where our students and faculty share the results of their research. And we could end up back in Washington D.C. to see the wind turbine designed by Boise State students for the Department of Energy’s Collegiate Wind Challenge. The design, which took first place in the competition, was displayed in the main lobby of the Department of Energy building.

Emily Tanasse, finishing up her sophomore year in mechanical engineering swims for Boise State University, where her best event is the 200 backstroke. This gives her a very challenging schedule, with daily practices at 6:00 a.m., but Emily thrives under the pressure. In February in San Antonio, she finished the season with some personal best times and the BSU team finished second overall. In addition, Emily’s an excellent student and helps the college by working as a grader for Statics, a second year engineering course. Emily’s advice to other engineering majors: “Utilize all the resources you have available to you and establish good relationships with your professors so you can have clear communication with them on conflicts you might be experiencing.” Kate Jette, finishing up a minor in Biomedical Engineering, is on the BSU track and cross country teams. Her event on the track is the 3000 meter steeplechase. She has been on the team for five years and has been competing in track since she was in third grade. Kate also devotes a lot of time to practice; her team is active in the fall, spring, and winter. Practices take about 2 hours a day on average, not factoring in travel to meets. Kate will be graduating this spring as a Top Ten Scholar of the 2015 graduating class, one of Boise State University’s highest honors. Lacie Rasley, a senior in Civil Engineering student is also on the BSU track team. Lacie throws the shot put and has scored in two conference championships. What’s remarkable about Lacie is her outstanding leadership in the college; she’s the President of the Engineering Honors Society: Tau Beta Pi, Idaho Gamma. Under her leadership, the chapter has grown tremendously in membership and is now one of the largest active chapters in the Pacific Northwest. Jessica Bottelberghe graduates this May with a major in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Biomedical Engineering. She is both a Learning Assistant for Statics and a grader for another course. In addition, she is a dual sport athlete, competing on both the swim team and track & field team. In the pool she has 70 career wins, 20 All Mountain West honors in 10 different swimming events and represented the Broncos at NCAAs in 2014. On the track, Jessica has competed at Mountain West Conference Championships in the 800m and 4x400m races. Jessica’s philosophy is, “Believe you can do anything you put your mind to and refuse to let others set limits on your goals.” After graduation, Jessica plans to enter BSU’s Career Track MBA program and work as a Graduate Assistant through the Department of Information Technology and Supply Chain Management.

It was thrilling to have President Obama visit our campus and the College of Engineering. In the short amount of time we had, I believe we made a lasting impression of the amazing things that are happening in our College. It looks like the rest of our tour might have to wait until one of our student teams invents time travel! Amy Moll Dean and Professor College of Engineering

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“Our College of Engineering at Boise State attracts students who are simply amazing,” remarked Associate Dean Janet Callahan. “Over the past year I have had the opportunity to personally get to know nearly all these women and frankly, they inspire me.” She went on to say: “Excellence is an attribute our College nourishes.”

Faculty in Action Elisa Barney Smith has been selected by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as a Research Ambassador for study and research in Germany during the 2015-2016 academic year. She will be informing researchers about research opportunities in Germany and with German institutions. She spent the past academic year in Europe as a visiting researcher and scholar in France and a visiting scientist in Germany.

annual meeting and symposium hosted by Boise State. Yurke is a Distinguished Research Fellow with a joint appointment in the departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Doug Bullock, associate professor of mathematics; Janet Callahan, associate dean of academic affairs; and Susan Shadle, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, presented a paper titled: “Coherent Calculus Course Design: Creating Faculty Buy-in for Student Success” at the annual ASEE conference and exposition in Seattle, Washington, June 14-17. The paper received the Mathematics Division Best Paper Award.

Quincy Conley presented “New-age statistics education: Leveraging mobile augmented reality for creating collaborative, problem-based learning experiences” at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual event held April 16-20 in Chicago, Illinois.

Amy Moll was quoted in a story in the Idaho Statesman titled “From Russia, will code.” The article focuses on young women enrolling in Boise State’s computer science program and working for Boise tech companies while fighting the perception that computer science is a man’s game. The story featured Marianna Budnikova, a Boise State alumna. Read the entire article at http://www.idahostatesman. com/2015/03/04/3675428_from-russia-willcode.html?rh=1

Dianxiang Xu presented his research paper “Formalizing Semantic Differences between Combining Algorithms in XACML 3.0 Policies” at the 2015 IEEE International Conference on Software Quality, Reliability, and Security (QRS 2015) held in Vancouver, Canada, Aug. 3-5. QRS is an annual event sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Through a rigorous review process of full paper submissions, QRS 2015 selected only 22 percent of the 91 submissions as regular papers for presentation. Xu’s submission is one of the top three papers that received special recognition at the conference. The co-authors are research associate Yunpeng Zhang and graduate student Ning Shen.

Two faculty members in the College of Engineering served as Air Force Office of Scientific Research faculty fellows this summer. Recipients are Hao Chen, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Dave Estrada, assistant professor of materials science and engineering. Boise State University is pleased to announce that Will Hughes, associate professor of materials science and engineering, has been named as inaugural associate dean of the College of Innovation and Design (CID), as well as the head of the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) program. Bernard Yurke received the Idaho Academy of Science and Engineering Distinguished Scientist/Engineer Award during the IASE

Kevin Learned, director of the Venture College, and Tim Andersen, chair of the Department of Computer Science, were quoted in an Idaho Business Review story about how the startup of the College of Innovation and Design will affect their programs. The Venture College will move from the Division of Research to the CID, and Learned hopes to expose program participants to some of the unique programming ideas the college will offer. Andersen said the CID will help computer science students access business courses that will help them succeed after graduation. Read the story with an Idaho Business Review account at http://

The Boise State University Foundation and Provost Marty Schimpf have named faculty members John Bieter, Maria Mitkova and Jeanne Belfy as the 2015 Foundation Scholar Award recipients. They will receive a $3,000 honorarium from the foundation. The awards honor faculty members of Boise State who have demonstrated ongoing commitment, expertise and accomplishments in teaching, research, creativity or professional service.

CAREER Awards Sometimes weaknesses can mask hidden strengths. At least, that’s the premise of research by materials scientist Claire Xiong. Her quest to create a better battery using defect-driven oxide materials has earned her a coveted Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation. Xiong’s five-year, $528,027 award is the third CAREER award granted to a Boise State faculty member this academic year, and the 12th since 1997. Eight of those awards have been in the College of Engineering.

The National Science Foundation has awarded Vishal Saxena, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Boise State University, with a prestigious CAREER award to investigate the next generation of optoelectronic chips to reduce the energy needed to sustain the Internet cloud while also using more sustainable options. Saxena’s five-year, $500,000 grant is titled “Mixed Signal Photonics Integrated Circuits for High-Performance Data Interfaces.” His work centers on developing novel data communication interfaces using photons (light) rather than electrons in next-generation hybrid optoelectronics chips to process and transfer data, resulting in a multi-fold increase in data capacity coupled with reduced energy consumption. College of Engineering Newsletter | Fall 2015 3

President Obama Visits President Obama Says Sophomore Engineer is ‘Great Example’ By: Sherry Squires The president’s message at Boise State was that the country needs to continue to find ways to provide more Americans a college education, to ensure they have the skills and competencies to earn higher wages and continue to lead the world in innovation and creativity. “And that’s what all of you are doing right here at Boise State, he said. “You heard Camille’s story — she’s a mechanical engineering major. She’s a great example of why we’re encouraging more women and more minorities to study in high-paying fields that traditionally they haven’t always participated in — math and science and engineering and technology.” The Boise State College of Engineering is among the top 10 percent in the country for the high proportion of women faculty members. The college’s dean, Amy Moll, has been recognized as a national leader in encouraging women to enter engineering and the sciences. But as President Obama pointed out, it can be the opportunities that exist once you get to college that can make the difference. “Camille has done research for NASA. She’s gotten real job experience with industry partners. She’s the leader of your Microgravity Team. And, by the way, she’s a sophomore. So by the time she’s done — she might invent time travel by the time she’s done here at Boise,” he said. “But the point is, I want every American to have the kinds of chances that Camille has.” The lab in which Eddy works builds prototypes from advanced ceramics that are “co-fired” in a kiln along with embedded electronic and conductive materials. It has funding from NASA, Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and has worked with various industries to build prototypes of micro analytical systems. Boise State University sophomore Camille Eddy had the opportunity of a lifetime on Wednesday when she introduced the president of the United States of America to a crowd of thousands. After thanking her, President Barack Obama hugged her and said that what she has been able to do at Boise State is an example of what needs to happen around the country. “I love young people who are doing science, and I especially love seeing young women in sciences,” Obama said. Eddy is an undergraduate researcher who works in the Ceramic Microelectrical Mechanical Systems lab, which is working to build prototypes of a micro-propulsion device being designed to keep nanosatellites in the correct orbit with microscopic bursts of energy. Imagine a Coke-can-sized satellite, which would need just the tiniest thrust to position itself to stay on track.

Eddy also is a member of the Boise State Space Broncos (a group of students engaged with research and other projects with NASA) and Team Swanson, which worked with NASA astronaut and Boise State Professor of the Practice Steve Swanson while he was the commander of the International Space Station last year. The team created two Education Payload OperationDemonstrations for Swanson to do on the station and led a live uplinkdownlink with the ISS and Swanson. Eddy was born in Tennessee but lived in Boise for a few years before she started college. She has said that she wanted to take full advantage of the opportunities in college, and along with everything the president mentioned, she also has helped engage Idaho youth in the sciences by presenting ideas at Boise State’s annual STEM Exploration Day, works with young girls to get them into STEM and engineering in various ways, mentors at-risk high school students and helps them prepare for university through Strive for College, has her own web development side business and is involved with multiple professional organizations.

“I love young people who are doing science, and I especially love seeing young women in sciences,” Obama said.

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s Boise State University President Obama Highlights Boise State’s Innovative Culture continued from cover

Students and faculty showed the President how they 3D-printed a custom handle that a local student with developmental disabilities could use to access his locker without anyone’s help, and how Rekluse Motor Sports uses the lab to prototype parts for high-performance motorcycles. The lab works with local industries and entrepreneurs to design and prototype products and components and to help get them to the marketplace. “The work you do here is one of the reasons why Boise is one of our top cities for tech startups,” Obama said. He also highlighted the importance of work being done to encourage young women to pursue careers in math and science. He was introduced by Camille Eddy, a mechanical engineering major and undergraduate researcher who works in the Ceramic Micro Electro Mechanical Systems lab, another of Boise State’s high-tech, rapid prototyping areas. “She’s a great example of why we’re encouraging more women and more minorities to study in high-paying fields that traditionally they haven’t always participated in — in math and science and engineering and technology,” President Obama said. “Camille has done research for NASA. She’s gotten real job experience with industry partners. She’s the leader of your Microgravity Team. And, by the way, she’s a sophomore.”

From the New Product Development Lab to the Shark Tank By: Brady W Moore Idaho inventor Mark Melni has spent most of his life working inside computers and handling wires. For two decades while running his family business, Microchips Etc., he crimped wires together with a technique as old as wires themselves. Then, in 2007 Melni had an idea for an easier way to join wires together. Melni connectors are an electrically conductive spiral that grabs on to stripped wires or cables and connects them together. But creating a connector that can take more than 40,000 volts of electricity is no easy task. That’s why Melni turned to Boise State University and the New Product Development Team. “As great as they were, I wonder what Tesla or Edison might have done with a resource like the TechHelp New Product Development Team at Boise State,” Melni told TechHelp’s Bill Mullane. “The NPD Team has always

been a great resource to me. Without them, the Melni Connectors would still be just an idea in my head. They’re knowledgeable and can provide a range of unique services at a decent price. It’s been a pleasure working with them.” Production Manager for Melni Connectors, Paul Melni said that without the NPD lab at Boise State the company wouldn’t be where it is today. “Techhelp at Boise State assisted Mark with taking what was a concept and simple drawing and helped turn it into something tangible. With their continued support we were able to realize a dream and bring this project to fruition.” Melni was featured on ABC’s The Shark Tank on April 17, 15. After several of the “sharks” dropped out, Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA team the Dallas Mavericks, offered $500,000 for a 12 percent interest in the company. Beyond that, Cuban has the option to invest $1 million more once the company reaches a $15 million valuation. You can learn more about Melni Connectors at

President Obama holds a Melni Battery Terminal in the New Product Development Lab during his visit to campus in January. Also pictured are NPD lab manager Calvin Allan and lab specialist Chris Brown and College of Engineering Dean, Amy Moll. College of Engineering Newsletter | Fall 2015 5

Alumni News Computer Science Nilab Mohammad Mousa, CS 2014, is a Software Development Engineer at Clearwater Analytics where she works in Integration Productivity Team. As an Idaho Zero Robotics coordinator Nilab is passionate about K-12 outreach programs, and as co-founder of Girl Develop, Boise, she is devoted to increasing the diversity of STEM fields and the promotion of computer science and engineering to young women. 

Construction Management Tamara Loughmiller Thompson, CM 1992, Director of Client Services at The Land Group Inc., was honored as one of 50 outstanding Women of the Year 2015 by the Idaho Business Review. Tamara also serves on the BSU Alumni Association Board of Directors, and is a founding member and serves on the Board of Directors of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Idaho. Patrick Boel, CM 2012, after working as a Project Manager for Andersen Construction for over 4yrs, Patrick decided to take two months off and travel Europe last fall. While in Paris he got engaged, and married Cydney in May 2015. Patrick completed a few more projects for Andersen including a massive solar project at UC Irvine and then was recently hired as a Development Project Manager for LocalConstruct, a real estate developer based out of Los Angeles, California. They have multiple projects developing in downtown Boise including a 7 story apartment complex at 5th and Broad. Patrick lives in Boise with his wife Cydney and a golden retriever puppy, Lola. Miranda Moore, CM 2014, works for Jacobs Engineering in Houston in project controls. She works on cost controls and scheduling/planning for the company, and currently placed outside the plant at DOW Chemical. “I was told by people in Boise and prior graduates from our department that I would hate it down here and would end up moving back after a few years. When is this supposed to kick in? I still feel like I am on vacation, minus the getting up at 5 AM Monday through Thursday.” Byron Walker, CM 2014, is working as a Project Driver for Gayle Manufacturing Company in Nampa, Idaho. GMC is one of the leading Structural Steel Fabricator’s in the North-West and is committed to performance, innovation, and continuous improvement. As a Project Driver, he manages the detailing, fabrication, and erection processes, with the emphasis of maintaining the project schedule and contract requirements. His current projects include: Two office buildings in the Bay area and a Parking Garage in Sacramento California.

Civil Engineering Carina Castaneda, CE 2007, has been living in New York for the past year and a half, and is working as a project engineer for Tectonic Engineering in their Newburgh office.

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Jon Rocha, BSCE (2010) and M.Engr (2011), recently moved to Nevada where he accepted a job with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Boulder Canyon Operations Office. He is part of a 7 person team tasked with the operation and management of the Lower Colorado River. The team operates Hoover, Davis, and Parker Dams to irrigate over 2.5 million acres of land and meet the domestic needs of more than 23 million people in Arizona, Nevada and Southern California. Doug Hardin, CE 2012, Tamarack Grove, Project Manager, and is working on the design team for a life size replica of Noah’s Ark in Kentucky. You can see more at Lauren Nuxoll, CE 2014, is a Transportation Analyst for Kittelson & Associates, Inc., located in Boise, Idaho. She works on a large variety of projects: transportation impact studies (TIS), signal timing and design, roadway and roundabout design, corridor planning, and safety studies. Kittleson offers the opportunity to do anything in the transportation engineering field.

Electrical and Computer Engineering Brenda Erskine, EE 2000, has been with AlixaRx since 2012. AlixaRX provides prescription and over-the-counter medications, IVs and supplies, and clinical pharmacy services to more than 25,000 patients in over 200 locations across the country. Brenda is the manager of the Quality Assurance Team, and manages a team of Developers and Business Analysts who develop and test the software/ hardware for Automated Dispensing Units nationwide. The corporate office is in Plano, Texas but Brenda currently resides in Greenwood, Arkansas with her husband, Jeff and 3 boys, Caleb-18, Casey-14 and Caden-10. Brenda’s son, Caleb just graduated with his Associates in Applied Science from UAFS and high school this year, and he will be pursuing a Mechanical Engineering degree at the University of Arkansas in Fort Smith, AR. Julie Morgan, EE 2001 Timothy Morgan, CE 2001 Julie is in her second year as STEM Coordinator for Cole Valley Christian Schools where her three daughters attend. With her BSEE from Boise State University, MSEE from University of Arkansas, and ABCTE Teacher Certification, she spends her days designing and implementing STEM lessons aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. Passionate about reaching every student, especially women and minorities, she leads the students through riveting hands-on, inquiry based experiments. Grant funding acquired by Julie from the Micron Foundation and The Greater Boise Rotary Foundation provide project based lessons and Lego Mindstorm EV3 Robotics equipment. Her primary goal is to build excitement for STEM while developing 21st century skills, such as communication, problem solving, collaboration, and innovation. Her hope is to see a passion in every student for STEM. Julie’s husband, Tim, is not only Deputy Director of ACHD, responsible for all maintenance and operations, but also her biggest supporter. At

ACHD, Tim manages a $25 million annual budget with 125 full time employees. He was also recently named as one of Idaho Business Review’s Accomplished Under 40.

Startup Licenses Technology Developed at Boise State continued from cover

Materials Science and Engineering Megan Beck, MSE 2014, is pursuing her Ph. D. in Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University. She is doing research under Mark Hersam in electronic and optoelectronic heterostructures devices (both lateral and vertical geometries) made from lowdimensional materials (like graphene and monolayer transition metal dichalcogenides).

Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering Melissa Elkington, ME 2003, works for DNV GL - Energy in Portland, Oregon as a Renewables Advisor. Matt Forest, ME 2012, is transitioning from Development Engineer at Rekluse in Boise to Project Engineer at Lou-Rich in Albert Lea, Minnesota. Matt’s wife has begun work as a respiratory therapist at the Mayo hospital there. Chris Russell, ME 2013, is a Design Engineer for Rubbermaid Commercial Products in Charlotte, North Carolina. He designs durable high end products for cleaning, healthcare, and hospitality sectors. He develops the models from the concept stage all the way to design for manufacturing, and supports manufacturing until the product is in full production. Working as a Design Engineer is filled with creativity and unique design challenges. Seeing the real products from his designs is one of the most satisfying feelings in his career. Kevin Martinez, ME 2014, is a Mechanical engineer at CH2MHILL in Redding, California for the Water Market Division. Design mechanical processes for water projects such as: agriculture water supply, water treatment plants, waste water treatment plants, and water conveyance.

Alumni Notes We want to stay in touch. Please send your updates to Leandra Aburusa-Lete at

The availability of kT-RAM will have the largest impact in fields that require higher computational power, such as robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, by massively increasing speed and power performance of synaptic operations at the scale of biological systems. To learn more about Campbell’s memristor technology, watch the video found here. For more information about Knowm, visit

Greenspeed, Boise State Bring Solar Racing to Boise By: Sherry Squires

Photo: Blue Planet Photography

Jeanette Brooks, ECE 2014, is a Firmware Engineer for HP in Boise, Idaho. The position involves working on print engine emulators, which bridge the gap between the print engine simulator, which is strictly software, and the actual printer. Working on the print engine emulator team allows me to work with both software and hardware.

Photo: Knowm Inc.

Janos Cserna, ECE 2014, is working for Tesla Motors Inc. in Palo Alto, California where they design and manufacture fully electric vehicles. He is an Associate Printed Circuit Board Assembly Design Validation Test Engineer, or an Associate PCBA DV Test Engineer.  His work entails designing, programming, assembling, and validating test units.  Each test unit is uniquely constructed for a specific controller.  He regularly writes microcontroller programs and FPGA configuration code, as well as analyzes, designs, and lays out circuit schematics.

Greenspeed Research, a local non-profit focused on providing learning experiences for all ages in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and renewable energy fields, has shown the world what hard work and elbow grease could do for renewable energy. In an industry dominated by petroleum, they built the world’s fastest vegetable oil-powered vehicle. With the help of Boise State University’s Venture College, students Dave Schenker and Patrick Johnston transformed their student club, Greenspeed, into Greenspeed Research Inc. They have since expanded to include an extra-curricular program aimed at getting high school students excited about STEM. This engaging and rigorous engineering adventure is called the Solar Go-Kart Challenge. Diverse teams of high-school students each build a solar go-kart in about eight weeks, and then race against each other. As the name implies, it is a design challenge that emphasizes friendly competition and 21st century skills — leadership, teamwork, time management, fabrication and more. Read more at http://news. College of Engineering Newsletter | Fall 2015


College of Engineering

New Engineering Tutoring Center Invigorates Learning By: Kathleen Tuck

Dean: AMY MOLL (208) 426-1153 Associate Dean for Academic Affairs: JANET CALLAHAN (208) 426-1153 Assistant Dean for Research & Infrastructure: REX OXFORD (208) 426-5744 Development Director: CHRISSY SHELTON (208) 426-1422

Civil Engineering Chair: MANDAR KHANAL (208) 426-3743

Computer Science Chair: TIM ANDERSEN (208) 426-5767

Construction Management Chair: ROBERT HAMILTON (208) 426-3764

Electrical & Computer Engineering Chair: NADER RAFLA (208) 426-1167

Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning Chair: TONY MARKER (208) 426-1312

Materials Science & Engineering Chair: PETER MÜLLNER (208) 426-5639

Mechanical & Biomedical Engineering Chair: DON PLUMLEE (208) 426-4078

Students who learn how to learn are infinitely more successful than those who simply master the problem of the day. That’s the basis of a new effort out of the College of Engineering. The Tutoring Center at the Grant Avenue Annex (the former Division of Extended Studies building) encourages students to expand the learning process outside of the classroom. On just about any given day, students flow in and out of the space, which is stocked with computers, projectors, fixed and mobile white boards, foam cubes for stacking and sitting, and T-Boards — moveable walls with whiteboards on both sides that can be arranged into a variety of creative meeting spaces. The Tutoring Center is the brainchild of Krishna Pakala, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering. Pakala thought that if students had a place to form study groups, access peer tutoring, practice presentations and visit with faculty in a casual setting, they would be more invested in their education and more successful in both their current and future academic endeavors. Jeremy Lowman, a mechanical engineering student, likes having white boards available in every direction, and appreciates the ability to collaborate with other students. “I can ask almost anyone a question and get help,” he said. “The vision is to have a Center for Teaching and Learning for students,” said Pakala, who often interacts with his students at the center. Will Hughes, associate professor of materials science and engineering, agrees: “The tutoring center is peer-to-peer learning at its best,” he said. “The center empowers students to celebrate and pursue their curiosity in a low-stakes environment.” “My casual observation is that students who attend the sessions tend to perform better in the class. In general, the more problems students solve, the better they tend to perform,” said James Ferguson, an associate professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering who has used the center to conduct a problem-solving session outside of assigned class time for his ME 330 Fluid Mechanics course. “The tutoring center provides both opportunity and assistance in helping students accomplish this.” When the center first opened in its Grant Avenue Annex location, tutoring was provided by members of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. Now it is entirely departmentdriven, which is exactly what Pakala envisioned. “I think this is a good working model,” he said. “There is some faculty involvement, but it comes down to student-driven learning.” Faculty with questions about how to organize a study group at the Tutoring Center or other ways to get involved can contact Krishna Pakala at

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