Engineering magazine 2016

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opus college of engineering magazine 2016

BETTER TOGETHER The college and its partners help each other thrive.

Source of hope

Shop-floor sabbatical Bringing back benefits from a year in industry.

A senior design team uses a foreclosed home to irrigate a homeless shelter’s urban garden.

Engineering growth Startup culture helps students and grads take the plunge.






This summer, I was honored to join leaders from Jesuit universities around the country in beginning the 18-month Jesuit-lay Ignatian Colleagues Program. At the program’s heart is the notion that collaboration among people of all nations and cultures, clergy and lay, is critical to continuing the work of Jesus in bringing about a more just world. At our cohort’s first retreat, we strived to look at the world through a number of different lenses and sought ways to work together in our Jesuit institutions to fulfill our missions. In my experience, collaboration always yields more impactful solutions to difficult problems than what any individual can provide. Whether creating new technologies, revising curriculum to better prepare graduates, building state-of-the-art laboratories or planning mission trips, the final product of the team is more creative and gratifying than work done flying solo. It is exhausting yet energizing to spend time disrupting and debating each other’s perceptions to find a pathway that can be supported collectively. This common effort often resembles an orchestra with a diverse collection of musicians, each playing from his or her sheets of notes. Yet when combined, these distinct parts produce a magnificent sound that moves hearts and minds beyond what’s possible with any single instrument. As a college of engineering, we create such powerful synergies through collaborations across academic departments, colleges, institutions, and industry and community relationships. With each entity bringing distinct knowledge and a unique lens on the world, we start moving mountains (well, maybe just traditional academic barriers) and making change once thought impossible. We are “better together,” a message you’ll see reinforced repeatedly in these pages. We chart new educational and research landscapes, build community STEM programs and connect with diverse communities around the globe. And the results can be inspiring, as in the case of our professor spending a sabbatical in the engineering ranks of a major manufacturer to better understand what’s expected of his graduating students (p.10); or the senior design team working with nonprofit and government partners to turn a foreclosed home into a cistern supporting a community garden (p. 14); or our students and recent graduates using their creativity and knowhow to design and market products to improve people’s lives (p. 16). In keeping with our Jesuit traditions, collaboration is helping us pursue things that were previously unimaginable, including the emerging visions of innovation at Marquette that close this issue (p. 26). With our students and partners, we understand the wisdom of these memorable words of Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” Dr. Kristina Ropella Opus Dean Opus College of Engineering

ON THE ROAD Join Opus Dean Kristina Ropella as she meets with fellow Marquette engineering alumni and parents in various cities this year. Ropella will provide updates on the college and share her vision for its future at stops in Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Naples, Fla.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; Minneapolis/St. Paul; and Milwaukee. Contact Jill Ott for more information on tour dates:

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02 // SCREAMING EAGLE Marquette’s Eagle Racing Team speeds to a personal best with its Baja car.


// NEWS 04

The latest Opus College news in brief.

n inspired example of a A capstone project creating community benefits.



Faculty members spend their

sabbaticals far from academia, bringing back benefits from their time in industry.



TOGETHER The college and its partners help each other thrive.

OPUS DEAN Dr. Kristina Ropella

ENGINEERING HALL 1637 W. Wisconsin Ave.

EDITORIAL TEAM Stephen Filmanowicz with Brian Boyle, Jessica Bulgrin, Megan Knowles, Sarah Koziol, Jennifer Russell

OLIN ENGINEERING CENTER 1515 W. Wisconsin Ave. P.O. Box 1881 Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881 414.288.6000

ART DIRECTION TEAM Karen Parr (lead) with Sharon Grace

A special section highlighting how our researchers are discovering innovative solutions to the world’s greatest concerns.




Students and new alumni take the startup plunge.

view into two visions that are defining A the cutting edge of innovation at Marquette, each involving the Opus College as a key partner.

Marquette Engineer is published for colleagues, alumni and friends of the college. Feedback and story ideas are appreciated. Please email Cover photo by Matt Haas

/MarquetteEngineering /MUEngineering marquette university opus college of engineering

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Cruising across the finish line on the snow-packed racetrack in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Marquette’s Eagle Racing Team made history at the Blizzard Baja hosted by Michigan Technological University. The fifth-place finish out of 41 cars from 18 colleges and universities was Marquette’s highest in the four years it has competed in the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Baja SAE Series event, for which students plan, design, create and drive a racing vehicle. The race itself took four hours, but the journey to success — and a $200 TeamTech Award — was a much longer road.

Watch a driver’s perspective video of the Blizzard Baja race at

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THE POWER OF TEAMWORK DESIGN CHALLENGES PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS Members develop skills in fabrication, computer-aided design, teamwork, critical thinking, accounting, competition and professionalism, Robinson says. Team members gain valuable experience collaborating across diverse disciplines and can find co-ops in related fields. Sponsors for the car included: • Tankcraft Corp. • Husco Automotive • Robinson Metal • Milwaukee Tool • Briggs & Stratton • Lucas-Millhaupt • Solidworks

Bringing a design to life within design parameters, including the use of a 15-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine, comes with its share of hurdles. “There are so many facets of design and fabrication that are involved with manufacturing an off-road vehicle that there is always something you can do to improve performance and gain knowledge,” says Charlie Bieser, Eng ’16. The first frame the team designed was severely damaged during its first-ever competition. Learning from those mistakes, the team has worked to create a stronger, lighter and faster frame made out of steel tubing with a larger outer diameter than before. “No matter what happens to our car, we will always bring it into the pits, fix it and get it back on the track if we can,” Bieser says.

RACING HIGHLIGHTS When the horn blew, the Eagle’s steering wheel was in the hands of Robinson, who reached a top speed of 30 mph while maneuvering over humps and through hairpin turns. “One of the unique things about the Michigan Tech race is that course is completely covered in snow and ice,” he says. “If you are not aggressive enough, you’ll get stuck behind cars while other cars pass by. If you are too aggressive, you could potentially damage your vehicle.”

Photo by Bryan Kendall

During the 10 months a buggy goes from concept and CAD drawings to course-ready racer, students work on the car’s subsystems, becoming experts on topics they may not have known previously. On these teams, experienced students mentor more novice ones, says Eric Robinson, Eng ’16. “Typically, younger members start coming into the shop for just a couple hours each Saturday but quickly develop a passion for the work, which drives them to become more and more involved.”

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Joined for excellence Marquette and the Medical College of Wisconsin join forces for leadership in the fast-growing field of biomedical engineering. The Opus College of Engineering has wide-ranging expertise in engineering education and research. The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) is the biggest medical research engine in Southeast Wisconsin and is known for its innovative clinical practice. Together, they hope to form an international destination for students and faculty who are passionate about biomedical engineering — and, in the process, help build the Milwaukee region’s reputation as a hub for research in one of the technology sector’s fastest-growing areas. In March, Marquette and MCW announced the creation of a joint Biomedical Engineering Department, melding the strengths of both institutions to train the next generation of engineers, scientists and physicians. “Together, we can be a top-ranked biomedical engineering department in the nation,” said Marquette President Michael R. Lovell at the time. The partnership represents “a great opportunity to build on the strong foundation of industrial and health care expertise that is woven into the fabric of this region,” says John R. Raymond, Sr., M.D., president and CEO of MCW. Dr. Kristina Ropella, Opus Dean of the Opus College of Engineering, sees opportunities for expanded research, more mentorship for students, new opportunities for women in STEM fields and a chance for Marquette and MCW to play leading roles in the establishment of ethical conduct in an emerging industry.


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The joint department leverages strengths of both partners, like this advanced lab in Wauwatosa, Wis.

She says the partnership will boost the college’s already robust efforts to give students the knowledge skills that employers are seeking. “Because we’ve listened to what industry needs are, we have a curriculum that works,” Ropella says. The joint department offers undergraduate and graduate degrees. As of this fall, all current biomedical engineering students from both institutions are enrolled in the joint department. Future students will also be admitted to it. Students have access to state-of-the-art labs at both campuses, and also gain hands-on experience with industry partners, hospitals and clinics. They’ll work with engineers and physicians who are working on innovations to benefit patients and the community. “It’s a really exciting time for biomedical engineering right now,” says Dr. Lars Olson, the department’s interim chair. “With the new department, there is an opportunity for real growth at both institutions and growth in the Southeast Wisconsin community. It’s exciting because there will be new collaborations that couldn’t have existed before, and new opportunities for students.” — Chris Jenkins Learn about opportunities related to the department at

/// Matter of life and breath

Marquette’s human-powered breathing-therapy device makes inroads in Central America.

Over the last dozen years, biomedical engineering professor Dr. Lars Olson has collaborated with undergraduate and graduate students to create, design and test a life-changing medical device, most recently deploying it in rural areas of El Salvador and Guatemala. Advancing medical technology somewhat unobtrusively, the device requires neither an electrical outlet nor a battery. It requires no intensive training, nor any medical or technical expertise. And that’s exactly the point. For the rural, mountainous regions of Central America where electric service is spotty, the device — a hand-cranked, human-powered nebulizer, or HPN — is exactly the kind of common-sense health innovation needed to save countless lives from relatively treatable chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and lower respiratory infections. “Here’s where we step in. Marquette can make devices. We can get donations. We can create technology that can help those in need,” Olson explains. Now, after a clinical trial involving 15 units put into action in El Salvador in 2015, the project has entered an important new phase. Guided by user feedback from physicians and community health workers associated with partner organization Asociación Vida, the devices are back stateside where Olson and his team are retooling and recalibrating them — accounting for the region’s high altitudes and other minor issues. The goal is to redeploy the HPNs in El Salvador by the end of the calendar year, followed closely by the deployment of 20 units to Guatemala. “These are really, really rural areas,” observes Clara Villatoro, an El Salvadoran public health journalist and team ally in tapping networks of health workers who will bring the devices to remote villages under the guidance of doctors. “You see the reality — you see they don’t have the electricity. It has been really nice to see how excited these health workers are to use the device.” —Brian Boyle

Going worldwide A new program encouraging global awareness in aspiring engineers kicks off with an immersive Chinese dinner. “The engineering world is a global place now,” an executive from Rockwell Automation told the 32 aspiring engineers assembled in the Peking House restaurant in downtown Milwaukee last April. Joined by faculty from the college and engineers from area industries, the students were participating in the inaugural event of I-Explore, a program that introduces students to the whys, wheres and how-tos of engineering practice in the many countries and cultures they are likely to encounter in their careers. On this night, the featured country was China and the insights came with ample side servings of Jiaozi dumplings, Ma Po tofu and other authentic specialties.

Opus Dean Kristina Ropella says a program like this was called for based on the new reality students face after graduation. “Soon after entering the workforce, many of our engineering graduates will begin to work on projects with global teams,” she says. These students will need to find their footing, engaging with colleagues from an array of countries in responsibilities such as customer relations, design reviews, project management, research and product development. “Through I-Explore, we hope our graduates will begin to appreciate the intercultural differences that will impact the success of their global teams. Understanding how relationships and business practices differ around the globe is an important

Health workers in El Salvador test using their arms to power the nebulizer developed at Marquette. It’s designed to treat patients with breathing problems who live in communities lacking electricity.

step toward becoming global citizens.” Global immersion dinners are the cornerstone of I-Explore, one each semester. Local engineering leaders with global expertise discuss their experiences working with professionals from a particular country and navigating cultural differences there — all against a backdrop of authentic cuisine from that country. For this first dinner focused on China, 12 industry executives from major companies, such as Rockwell, Johnson Controls, Husco International and GE Healthcare, shared their experiences with students in both short presentations and informal conversations around dinner tables. Future dinners will explore the engineering and cultural landscapes of India and Mexico. Reflecting on the April dinner, Jayger McGough Tomasino, Eng ’16, says his I-Explore experience really drove home the importance of getting to know cultures beyond his own. “Without engineers collaborating from different parts of the world, the world wouldn’t function the way it does today,” he says. — Megan Knowles marquette university opus college of engineering

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Solving the phosphorous paradox A prestigious NSF program helps Dr. Brooke Mayer study novel methods to get a pollutant out of waterways and into productive use. There’s too much phosphorus fouling surface waters, especially around the Great Lakes. Yet the supply of phosphorus available for use in fertilizer is running low. Taking aim at both problems, Dr. Brooke Mayer, assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, will use a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the recovery of phosphorus from polluted water for future use in fertilizers. The five-year CAREER grant is the foundation’s most prestigious award for junior faculty; Mayer’s is one of just five such awards currently funding peers at Marquette. (Opus College colleague Dr. Robert Scheidt received one earlier in his career.) With the grant, Mayer will hire a postdoctoral researcher and graduate student, who will make the project his or her dissertation topic. How serious are these issues? For starters, more than 1,300 bodies of water in Wisconsin are impaired to the point that they violate state standards and may be unfit for recreation. Algae growth from phosphorus upsets a significant share of these ecosystems, fueling conditions such as the oxygen-depleted summertime dead zone in Lake Michigan’s Green Bay. The leading culprit is excess phosphorus in stormwater runoff from fertilizer and animal waste, and in wastewater discharges. At the same time, phosphorus is vital to global food production thanks to its effectiveness as a fertilizer. Under worst-case scenarios, mineable phosphorus reserves could be depleted within a century, adding urgency to the search for ways to recover phosphorus from runoff and wastes. Mayer’s research relies on a biochemical process incorporating a novel protein-based system that selectively binds phosphorus. The phosphorus-specific high affinity phosphate-binding protein captures the mineral, and Mayer’s lab is interested in using the protein to reversibly capture the phosphorus so it can be used again. In her lab, Mayer will now determine whether the proteins capture the phosphorus as efficiently as hoped and leave the mineral in a form that can be recycled as an agricultural fertilizer. Mayer feels very fortunate for the award, especially given CAREER’s emphasis on the pursuit of new research discoveries and the integration of these discoveries to spur educational achievement in the classroom. “I am passionate about these two endeavors, and it’s incredible to have the opportunity to engage in these efforts every day,” she says. —Joe DiGiovanni

Keeping manufacturing competitive — and hydrated

College helps shape national policy for water’s role in U.S. manufacturing. Marquette scored a coup last winter when it was selected with Milwaukee-based A.O. Smith Corp. to lead a national initiative to ensure American manufacturing remains competitive in the face of water-related risks and opportunities. Spearheaded by the D.C.-based U.S. Council on Competitiveness and part of a larger plan of action known as the U.S. Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Partnership, the initiative has generated policy recommendations to be shared with leaders in Washington and executive suites across the nation. Dr. Kristina Ropella, Opus Dean, and other participants from the Opus College of Engineering were front and center when Marquette convened experts for the first national meeting of the group in February. Joining them were top executives from 15 corporations as well as officials from federal agencies, utilities and non-governmental organizations. “The contributions were significant,” says Dr. Carmel Ruffolo, Marquette’s associate vice

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president for research and innovation and the summit organizer. Ruffolo led the creation of a sector study based on the perspectives shared at the summit, including those of Dr. Daniel Zitomer, professor of engineering, director of the Water Quality Center and the discussion leader for the summit’s session on water and manufacturing technology. “I spoke about the importance of industry-university collaborative research as a catalyst for water technology,” says Zitomer. “Specifically, I emphasized that our existing Water Equipment and Policy Research Center was a good model for this.” With the outlook for water growing as a matter of public and industry concern, Marquette’s leadership is extending to the nation’s capital. “We’ve become national leaders with A.O. Smith in writing up this policy that will go to Congress,” says Ruffolo. —Katharine Miller

A viral message heard around the world Caitlin Beauchamp, Eng ’16, and Julie Griep, now an engineering senior, had just concluded a valuable job-shadowing experience with an engineering executive in Washington, D.C., last fall when they decided to take a picture in front of the White House. Of the countless photos taken in front of the building that day, their image went viral. “Posting one photo for the world to see can truly have a powerful and positive impact,” Beauchamp now says. Beauchamp and Griep were in D.C. spending the day with Kathleen Penney Linehan, Eng ’91, CH2M vice president, and witnessing her leadership in action as part of the college’s E-Lead program. The program helps prepare engineering students to lead diverse teams and companies. The photograph they took before heading home was posted on the Opus College of Engineering’s and Marquette’s Instagram accounts, where it was later included in a listing of the university’s top-15 postings of the year. In December, it was featured in Google’s “Year in Search 2015” video, which received more than 8 million views. An annual Google tradition, the video featured the news of women becoming Army Rangers, David Letterman’s final show, and other news and memes that generated the most search traffic last year. Beauchamp and Griep appear at 43 seconds and have about a second of screen time. What made the image so special? The picture shows the pair not just standing in front of the White House but also holding a sign bearing a bold, handwritten message: #ILookLikeAnEngineer. That hashtag is part of a social movement to increase diversity in tech fields and redefine norms and perceptions about who is an engineer. “To me, #ILookLikeAnEngineer is both about combating gender stereotypes and being free to do what makes you happy,” Griep says. “This movement is all about women empowering other women to pursue their passions.” —Wyatt Massey Watch the Google year-end video that features these two Marquette engineers at


Bringing expertise to key positions


The Opus College of Engineering has faculty members filling three endowed chair positions for the first time. Their colleagues welcome them and the wide-ranging expertise and experience they bring to these positions. DR. YONG BAI NEW POSITION: McShane Chair

in Construction Engineering and Management and professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering. PREVIOUS ROLE: Chair and

professor in the Department of Construction Management and Engineering at North Dakota State University since 2012. In addition he has extensive experience working in the construction industry. WHAT HE’D LIKE YOU TO KNOW ABOUT HIM: As McShane

Chair, Bai is working with a range of constituencies toward the goal of building a globally recognized construction engineering and management program at Marquette. “I want to let our students know the importance of construction in sustaining the civilization of human society,” he says.


NEW POSITION: V. Clayton Lafferty

Endowed Chair in Electrical Engineering and professor of electrical and computer engineering. PREVIOUS ROLE: Associate professor

of electrical engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, specializing in micro- and smart-sensor systems. He retired from active duty after serving honorably for 25 years. WHAT HE’D LIKE YOU TO KNOW ABOUT HIM: As a junior

officer, he attended Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California, completing the Experimental Flight Test Engineer course. He flew in more than 40 models of aircraft including the F-15, F-16, F-18, C-17 and MIG-15. “My assignment following flight school was as an F-16 field test engineer when I flew another 350 hours during test and test support missions,” he relates. “I have a lot of stories about flying.”


in Engineering Design and Manufacturing and professor of mechanical engineering. PREVIOUS ROLE: Associate dean

for research and professor in the Opus College of Engineering. WHAT HE’D LIKE YOU TO KNOW ABOUT HIM: His teaching

interests focus on developing student knowledge, skills and personal attributes associated with innovative design and new product development. He will also direct the new manufacturing center being established at Marquette. “The center will develop the processes and equipment needed to achieve higher-quality, higher-throughput smart assembly automation systems,” he pledges. And research encouraged there will aim to make manufacturing assembly operations more responsive to product/process change. marquette university opus college of engineering

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Code together, soar together A student-led effort takes off and helps make Milwaukee a more welcoming place for girls in technology. As a sophomore at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School last year, Mary Callanan already loved computers. But it still took some arm-twisting by her parents before she joined Girls Who Code, a Marquette engineering outreach program that brings teenage and tween-age girls to campus each week during the school year for coding experiences like the “farm-themed” video game Callanan’s team created a keystroke at a time. Now a junior, Callanan is a more than willing participant, drawn in part by what she did not realize she’d find — a dynamic coding community where she’s formed friendships and learned skills that are applicable in and outside the information technology field. She even attended a Caltech coding camp in Pasadena, Calif., this summer. Her experience is significant since the low numbers of women in Silicon Valley and other tech bastions reflect an overlooked problem — a lack of community and camaraderie for tech-curious girls. Through a national network of programs like the one at Marquette, Girls Who Code addresses both deficits through engaging coding experiences that require collaboration among teammates of various ages. Enrolling just shy of 50 girls last year from Southeastern Wisconsin communities spanning Menomonee Falls, Bayside and the city of Milwaukee, Marquette’s program got its start in 2014 when a Nicolet High School freshman returned from a Girls Who Code summer immersion program in Boston. “One of their tasks is to go back to their community and spread the word regarding the program in an effort to get more clubs started,” explains Sally Lin, Grad ’16, who was then a master’s candidate in biomedical engineering and helped launch the program at the request of faculty and staff. Directed by students, with support from the college’s Office of Enrollment Management and Outreach and guest lectures by college faculty, Girls Who Code at Marquette enrolled High school senior 27 participants its first year and came close to doubling that last year, with 47 girls seeing the program through Ayanna Hairston to a spring graduation ceremony. Most “graduates” yet to reach college age are coming back this year. and junior Mary Callanan find camaraderie while coding their Farm Flurry video game.

Every week the girls present projects to groups of 25 fellow coders, which is a safe opportunity to practice and strengthen their presentation skills. “In presentations at school, I think I definitely got better,” Callanan says. “It’s easy to take experience from GWC and apply it to a theology or chemistry project at school.” Now that coordinators Lin and Theresa Le, Eng ’16, have passed the reins to a new cohort, Marquette’s program is not only going strong, it’s generated spin-off programs as well. New programs at the University of Wisconsin– Milwaukee and the Milwaukee School of Engineering trace their origins to Engineering Hall. “Many of the parents of girls involved in our program are affiliated with those two schools, including some professors and administrators,” explains Lin. Founders of the UWM program consulted with Marquette counterparts before their launch, and its lead coordinator previously volunteered in Marquette’s club. As a result, Milwaukee has become a more welcoming place for girls in technology — a region a little more likely to produce the next Steve Jobs, whoever she may be. —Jennifer Walter To find a Girls Who Code club near you, or to find ways to volunteer, visit

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/// Undergraduate networking, Silicon Valley style

Honoring engineering’s finest

Marquette engineering night at the HQ of a social media giant becomes a hot ticket. West Coast high school seniors with an interest in Marquette’s engineering program are getting connected on a different campus — the Facebook campus. For the past two years, soon after students from Northern California learned of their acceptance to the Opus College of Engineering, they received another letter: an invitation to a getacquainted-with-Marquette event at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Cumulatively, about 35 students and their families have taken advantage of these opportunities to meet faculty and current students, have questions answered and grow more familiar with Marquette. The events also have given them a rare peek behind the curtain of one of the most successful tech companies in the world — and a better understanding that a Marquette engineering education can lead to opportunities, even in faraway Silicon Valley. After all, college alumni working at Facebook have helped host the events. Ford Ellis, a biomedical engineering sophomore from the San Francisco Bay area, attended the event as a high school senior and then represented Marquette there this past January. Marquette wasn’t even on his radar when applying to universities, but after he was accepted and invited to the reception at Facebook, Ellis connected with students and faculty who made the trek from Milwaukee. “As a student, being able to go to Facebook headquarters, it’s something you want to learn about,” Ellis says. “It’s a place where you can possibly work.” One of the event’s significant benefits is its message that a Marquette education can take students where they want to go, says Lindsay Barbeau, Marquette admissions counselor for Northern California. “So whether that’s East Coast, West Coast or Facebook specifically, knowing that the name Marquette is nationally recognized and that students have job opportunities throughout the country — throughout the world — I think that’s a really big thing. I can tell them that, but it doesn’t mean anything until they see it.” — Lauren Brown Interested in hosting an event in your region? Contact Julie Murphy at or 414.288.5769.

Through the 2016 Alumni National Awards, Marquette honored graduates of the college whose professional and personal achievements embody Marquette excellence and values. Congratulations, awardees. YOUNG ALUMNUS OF THE YEAR AWARD Jason A. Schoen, Eng ’05 Entrepreneur and co-founder of Seattle-based medical device company Cadence Biomedical, Schoen (far right) designs products and technology such as the Kickstart Walking System, an exoskeleton device that helps a person regain mobility after suffering a neurological injury. PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Adonica Henley Randall, Grad ’79 Randall (second from left) is president and CEO of Abaxent LLC, a full-service business solutions provider, whose clients benefit from the extensive expertise she amassed over several decades in technical, sales and management positions for companies such as General Electric, A.O. Smith and IBM. She is also an associate professor of computer science at Alverno College. ENTREPRENEURIAL AWARD Mark A. Gehring, Eng ’86 A passion for medical software development kindled at Marquette helped launch Gehring (second from right) into a fulfilling career. His innovative startups include: Pinnacle, the first 3-D radiation treatment planning system; UltraVisual, a diagnostic imaging platform that helped hospitals transition from film to digital imaging; and Propeller Health, which has developed sensors and mobile apps to automatically monitor the health and adherence of patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. DISTINGUISHED ALUMNUS OF THE YEAR AWARD Edward G. Parrone, Eng ’70 The president and CEO of Parrone Engineering (left) has designed everything from college campuses to roadways, along the way connecting his abilities of communicating with people and respecting diverse ways of thinking to the foundational engineering knowledge he received at Marquette. His honors include being named Civil Engineer of the Year by the Rochester (New York) chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Parrone’s civic involvement has ranged from serving as president of the Rochester Rotary Club to coaching Little League. marquette university opus college of engineering

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Photo by John Sibilski


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Just let me be an engineer again. That’s the thought that kept running through Dr. Philip Voglewede’s head as his sabbatical approached.


How Dr. Philip Voglewede found excitement and lessons galore on a sabbatical spent far from academia. And he’s not alone. BY GUY FIORITA

Dr. Philip Voglewede in his work home for a year, Eaton’s Power Systems Division in South Milwaukee.

Normally when professors take yearlong sabbaticals, they work on research projects, teach unique courses at other institutions or write books. What they rarely do is go back to work in an entry-level position in their field. But that is exactly what Voglewede did last August, after eight years at Marquette. For 10 months, the popular associate professor of mechanical engineering worked full time as an engineer for Eaton’s Power Systems Division in South Milwaukee. During a time of year when Voglewede otherwise would have been in a classroom teaching sophomore dynamics or graduate-level robotics — or advancing prosthetic ankle design in his research lab — he was getting a taste of real-world engineering. “When I first petitioned Marquette, I said I wanted to get back to work as an engineer,” he recalls. “I wanted to see where my students go and find out how engineering is done today to be a better teacher and better my understanding of engineering.” Once the school agreed, Voglewede approached four local companies; all were receptive to the idea. His offer was too good to refuse. Whoever took him would get a doctoral-level engineer for a price similar to that of a new grad. He chose Eaton, which designs and manufactures devices and systems for electric utilities, because of the work they do with motion. “When I first came on I told them, ‘Don’t put me in a management role. Let me be an engineer again. Let me be down in the trenches,’ ” says Voglewede, who served several years as a resident engineer at Whirlpool Corp. in Ohio before earning his doctorate at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Back on the front lines in South Milwaukee, he worked on modeling, designing and testing of an electrical switchgear, specifically reclosers,

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which detect if a fault has occurred and will restore power automatically if the fault is temporary, like a tree branch hitting a power line. Many times this will prevent a costly and time-consuming visit to the device by a utility worker. How does this kind of work compare to academia? “The speed of industry is more exciting. Things happen at a pace you can’t recreate in academia. If a test fails, we have to figure out what is wrong right away,” he answers. As a member of the Eaton team, if something needed to be done, Voglewede did it. Soon he was leading the testing of all of the project’s pilot units and working as a research engineer in the modeling portion. “I used my academic training to best model an electromagnetic actuator, which we successfully launched. It is more efficient, better performing and is easily integrated into the existing system, all for the same price,” he explains. “In engineering, success is getting a quality product out of the door. In academia you can get by with being 75 percent right. Here it needs to be 100 percent right. These experiences invigorate me.”

“I need to understand industry because I am sending forth my students into this world,” says Voglewede. “I have to bring back that knowledge.” — DR. PHILIP VOGLEWEDE

As these shop-floor sojourns become less rare than they used to be, other engineering professors are following suit. Dr. Mark Nagurka, P.E., associate professor of mechanical engineering, for example, is in the planning stages of a sabbatical he hopes to spend in the trenches at Milwaukee Tool. “My objective is to further my expertise in mechanical engineering and gain experience in industrial design and then bring back real-world experiences that will be highly valuable in teaching and developing courses.” His Eaton experience behind him, that’s essentially the role Voglewede is now playing back at Marquette. “I have a long list of lessons I can use in the classroom. I have tons of examples that are going to make some great homework problems.” In a larger way, Voglewede relates the sabbatical to the Jesuit teachings of Marquette. “The missionaries knew that the key to success was understanding the people they encountered. I need to understand industry because I am sending forth my students into this world. I have to go out into the field first and then bring back that knowledge. It is this idea that fuels the fire and gives me energy.

At Eaton, the professor did what needed doing. Soon he was leading the testing of his team’s pilot units and working as a research engineer in the modeling unit.

“Marquette is unique because we have a lot of industry right in our backyard. Fostering these relationships and understanding what industry needs from Marquette and what Marquette needs from industry is important,” he concludes. “And I know that when they need a young engineer they will call me, and because of my experience here, I will be able to recommend the perfect person for the job.”

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Engines for synergy

Industry sabbaticals are just the beginning. Get to know other key ways the college and industry benefit from partnering together.


THE KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE: Seminars where faculty and industry share expertise. As an assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, Dr. Patrick McNamara spends a sizable chunk of his time researching solutions to challenges such as the role common antibacterial agents play in promoting antibiotic-resistant bacteria. But every year, McNamara takes a break to lead a two-day course for 40–50 wastewater experts, in which he shares insights from his work and learns about the other cutting-edge activities of his audience members. His faculty colleague Dr. Daniel Zitomer, director of the college’s Water Quality Center, also hosts a twoday short course for about 100 industry representatives, engineers and academics on anaerobic biotechnology for industrial wastewater treatment and renewable energy generation. Faculty colleague Dr. Brooke Mayer hosts a session each year too. McNamara, Mayer and Zitomer are three examples of the faculty members engaging industry experts, community residents and researchers as part of the college’s offerings of faculty-led discussions. Another exchange came about when Rexnord Corp. created a half-day seminar — to keep employees current on research outside their own areas of expertise — and turned to Dr. Raymond Fournelle and Dr. James Rice, professor and associate professor of mechanical engineering respectively, to discuss metallurgical and tribological principles. Involved faculty say this expertise sharing helps make “relationships among the university, the city and industries in the region very synergistic.” Says McNamara, “Industries learn about cutting-edge technologies. Marquette stays abreast of real-world needs. And students hone their abilities to communicate about technology to a broad audience.”


ALWAYS-ON CONNECTIONS: Advisory boards link college to real-world engineering.

TOGETHER ON THE CUTTING EDGE: College’s research partnerships with industry are growing. To improve patient outcomes, medical imaging specialists seek two things: higher-quality images and reduced radiation exposure. Thanks to collaboration between GE Healthcare and Dr. Taly Gilat-Schmidt, associate professor of biomedical engineering, groundbreaking research in this area is moving from lab to clinic. In an era in which federal funding for university research has stagnated, the college’s committed industry partners — including GE Healthcare and Astronautics Corporation of America — have grown in number, supporting advances in areas such as health care, water technology, systems and sustainability. Marquette’s industry partners directly fund research. They sign licensing agreements for new technologies, as Badger Meter did with electrical and computer engineering professor Dr. Shrinivas Joshi’s

ultrasonic flow meter design. And they help fund industry-university research ventures: For example, through the Water Equipment and Policy Research Center, the Milwaukee Sewerage District and Veolia and other industries have funded research by Drs. Daniel Zitomer, Brooke Mayer and Patrick McNamara in exchange for first rights to resulting solutions. These partnerships with industry contribute to a larger trend as the university seeks to double research funding between 2015 and 2020. “Industry is in touch with what’s important today. They are a built-in path to translate our work into patient care,” says Gilat-Schmidt. Read more on page 20 about the diagnostic tool brought to market through Gilat-Schmidt’s partnership with GE Healthcare.

Marquette engineering students graduate workforce-ready in part thanks to volunteers from the engineering community. Industry advisory boards — composed of dozens of individuals working at high levels in various disciplines — provide strategic advice to the college’s four engineering departments. “They are indispensable sounding boards that ensure our curriculums and student experiences parallel changing workforce needs and trends,” says Dr. Kristina Ropella, Opus Dean of the Opus College of Engineering. Most recently, advisory board members in biomedical engineering helped steer the creation of a joint biomedical engineering department with the Medical College of Wisconsin. The advisory boards typically meet once a year and submit an annual summary to the college on their opinion of the state of the department.

Learn about Marquette’s world-class co-op program, internships, events and other valuable partnerships with industry at

Text by Carolyn Bucior

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Source of hope

The design team and volunteers from Guest House (from left): Erik Anderson, Sam Mischen, Anne Grzywa, Mike Farina, Rebecca Ritger, David Mullins and Dan Run.

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Can a foreclosed home be reborn as a cistern supporting a homeless shelter’s urban garden? This senior design team committed themselves to finding that out.

Photo by Matt Haas

By Sue Pierman

Like many of her senior engineering classmates last fall, Anne Grzywa, Eng ’16, longed to find a capstone design project that would bring out her best as a budding engineer and make a difference in the community. In the BaseTern, she found such a project, and then some. Grzywa and three other recent graduates spent much of their senior year designing, planning and troubleshooting BaseTern — a stormwater-storage solution employing an abandoned home basement as a cistern. Their results just might breathe life into a foreclosed house, water an urban garden and support the efforts of homeless men as they build food-cultivation and work skills. As an example of the compounded community benefits that flow from many capstone projects, this is a particularly good one. “This project allowed me to apply my technical background to the community of Milwaukee, which has become near and dear to my heart. It also appealed to my passion for the environment. This was good work,” says Grzywa, a Nebraska native. “The group put its heart and soul into it.” The BaseTern concept began with Milwaukee’s Environmental Collaboration Office as a way to capture stormwater and prevent flooding, while finding new uses for blighted foreclosed homes. The city imagined turning the basements of some of these homes into cisterns. Reflo, a nonprofit focused on sustainable water solutions, suggested taking the idea further, using the cistern’s rainwater to irrigate an urban garden rather than letting it drain slowly into local sewers. Specifically, the Reflo team had in mind the one-acre Cream City Gardens operated by the Guest House of Milwaukee, a men’s homeless shelter on 13th Street several blocks north of campus. Since Grzywa knew Reflo’s executive director Justin Hegarty from some networking he helped her do with sustainable engineering internships, she learned Reflo needed help with the project and had the idea of making it her capstone project. She enlisted


WITH OUR COMMUNITY then-seniors Erik Anderson, David Mullins and Mike Farina, all Eng ’16. And so the Marquette, Reflo and Guest House partnership began. The project required technical skills such as calculating how large the BaseTern must be to sustain the garden, but it also demanded people skills. Anderson was surprised by “the amount of collaboration needed, even in the design phase, to get the project to the point where you have full clearance to build it.” The students wrote grant applications, worked with city departments and considered their design from the neighborhood’s perspective. A surprise discovery of burial remains on the site practically eliminated the team’s ability to do soil testing and forced them to keep their cistern within the existing foundation envelope but excavate deeper, at increased expense. Their dogged problem-solving mirrored that of other capstone teams collaborating to develop things such as a sensor-equipped clothing product to monitor activity in nursing home patients, and a nonelectric lung-suction device for use fighting infections in the developing world.

Now a graduate student at Marquette in environmental engineering, Anderson agrees. “There is a level of design and standards we need to meet for our senior design class, and there are standards that need to be met so the project can move forward in real life,” he says.

“They’re getting an education in how real-world engineering projects happen,” Hegarty says. “They walked through the property with cameras and flashlights to measure the basement. Afterward, they met with the project owner (Guest House Executive Director Cindy Krahenbuhl). That’s kind of 101 on how to do a project — interfacing with the project owner and regulatory officials to obtain all the necessary information.”

Much more work must be done before the BaseTern becomes reality — funding secured by Reflo, permits obtained, excavation completed, all following a planned sale of the home to Guest House by the city at a nominal cost.

The BaseTern will collect rainwater via bioswales — trenches around the house containing perforated pipes — then feed it into the basement. On a volunteer basis, a couple of the recent graduates on the team are developing options for pumping the water approximately 400 feet to tanks set on a high point of the garden.

In the meantime, Krahenbuhl says, “We’ve been thrilled to have the students involved. It’s good hands-on experience and helps them understand the complexity of all these government departments they have to work with, so it’s a win-win for everybody.”

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From the ground up BY ERIK GUNN

Nurtured by a more entrepreneurial college and campus culture, more students and recent grads are taking the startup plunge.

Jacob Rammer was simply trying to make a stationary platform on which to mount a wheelchair. Aiming to shoot videos showing how wheelchair users use their muscles while moving, he hoped to help them reduce their injury risk. It took Dr. Tamara Cohen, Grad ’15, to show him that his project could germinate a startup business. Today, Rammer and Cohen are the founders of EngAbility Inc. Their first product — still going through prototype development and testing — is the Personal Wheelchair Platform. “A bike trainer but for wheelchairs,” Cohen calls it. In a collaboration with Marquette, they conduct NSF-supported customer discovery interviews out of a third-floor room in Olin Engineering Center, where Cohen completed her doctorate and Rammer is a doctoral candidate. Both have found the shift from engineering as an academic pursuit to one that can produce a real tool for real people both startling and deeply satisfying. “I love research, knowledge and learning,” says Cohen. “I had never thought about entrepreneurship as an option.” But after a friend encouraged her to “crash” an entrepreneurship weekend event at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, she was inspired to approach Rammer about commercializing the wheelchair platform. Both of them are now fulfilling a drive that they realize drew them to engineering in the first place. “I really wanted to make an impact,” Cohen says. “As engineers, we’re supposed to be problem-solvers.” These days more Marquette engineering students are fast-forwarding their career ambitions by becoming business founders instead of first-year hires in industry, consulting or academia. Finding market potential in ideas forged in classrooms and labs, they credit an academic environment that promotes creativity and practical know-how for pointing them down this less-traveled road. 16 // 2016

Such an outlook has been embedded for years in the college’s culture, says Dr. Gerald Harris, P.E., Grad ’78, ’81, professor of biomedical engineering, who has spent his career developing better diagnostic tools and devices to help orthopaedic doctors and their patients, especially children. It’s reflected in programs such as the senior capstone design course pioneered a decade ago by Dr. Jay Goldberg, P.E., clinical professor of biomedical engineering. And recent years have seen that focus sharpen. President Michael R. Lovell has made a top priority of fostering a strong culture of innovation and entrepreneurship on campus and beyond. While overseeing the growth of seed funding vehicles for student-led ventures, Lovell also championed The Commons, which enrolls students from 23 area colleges and universities in an entrepreneurial boot camp where they can take on projects for sponsoring companies or pursue ideas of their own. Rammer and Cohen took their project through the nineweek Commons course in 2015 and, with support from Harris, entered training programs sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps, or I-Corps. Reflecting the program’s emphasis on extensive market research, a local I-Corps event sent them on a round of interviews with 45 potential users. A subsequent national workshop in Houston led them to interview 115 more nationwide. “They really drill into you the importance of forgetting your technology and looking at who you are helping,” Cohen notes. The homework helped them recognize a potentially huge new market for the device: wheelchair athletes training for their sports by “wheeling in place” when unable to gain access to large gyms. Given the laborious FDA approval process for medical devices, this has been an important expansion. Still, EngAbility isn’t abandoning therapeutic uses; Harris helped get the device into use at a partnering clinic in the Philippines. Continued on p.19

Dr. Tamara Cohen and Jacob Rammer determined a market existed for their wheelchair trainer platform.



Photo by Matt Haas


With the front wheels clamped in pace, the low-friction rear-wheel rollers of EngAbility’s wheelchair platform provide calibrated resistance for effective training.

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Photos by Matt Haas

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A Bluetooth signal sends data from multiple sensors in Seiva’s compression shorts to a laptop to help wearers achieve optimal motion.

Continued from p. 16

Sensing opportunity Seiva Technologies LLC, founded by Andrew Hampel, Eng ’15, and Sam Wesley, a senior majoring in business administration, is another startup with college roots. Seiva is developing sensorequipped clothing capable of collecting an astonishing variety of data about the wearer’s movements. Applying sensor technology knowledge he picked up as a research assistant in Engineering Hall’s solid state and nano devices lab, Hampel originally imagined his concept benefiting physical therapy patients. When he heard from a friend who struggled to master his PT exercises after reconstructive knee surgery, an idea clicked: Why not use wearable sensors to map the body’s movements in detail? So was born the system that sends information over a Bluetooth connection to a laptop computer where custom software helps the wearer or therapist visualize movements to see if they’re being done correctly. “It’s sort of like a FitBit for the whole body,” says Hampel, but one that measures a whole lot more than steps taken or heart and breathing rates. The project won a $1,000 award as best student startup in the ImpactNext 2015 contest sponsored by Marquette’s Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship. Both Seiva and EngAbility are true startups — fueled by energy, investments from partner companies, project development grants and the hope of steady sales revenue somewhere down the road. EngAbility did sell two prototypes in 2015 to research labs, which helped cover most of their initial development expenses. Grants are covering development of the next model, with a target release date of 2017. As with Rammer and Cohen, the Seiva team — which also includes three 2015 Opus College graduates Trevor Thiess, Alex Hodges and Nick Hensen — has broadened its market to nontherapy uses, while hoping to eventually overcome similar medical-device regulatory hurdles. Recognizing that the technology can help athletes study and improve their motion, they tested it on speedskaters this summer. Hampel credits Marquette engineering with nurturing his native entrepreneurial impulse and creative thinking. Through his four years, the program emphasized not just the math at the root of engineering problems, but practical applications too. “If you can’t apply it to any real thing,” he says, “it doesn’t matter how much you can do with the numbers.”

Seiva starters: Sam Wesley, business senior, Nick Hensen, Eng ’15, and Andrew Hampel, Eng ’15.

Business BRIDGE

A COLLABORATIVE NEW PROGRAM AIMS TO MAKE YOUNG ENGINEERS SAVVIER ABOUT THE BUSINESS WORLD THEY’LL SOON ENGAGE. As Keyes Dean of Business Administration at Marquette, Dr. Brian Till says what his college often hears from businesses that employ engineering majors “is that these graduates are very competent engineers, but they don’t have enough appreciation for the business side.” To address that shortcoming, the Opus College of Engineering, the College of Business Administration and Milwaukee-based manufacturer Rexnord are joining forces on a concept that Till says has been “bubbling up for years.” The result is Bridge to Business, an immersive, four-week experience to give early career engineers business fundamentals. “As engineers advance in their careers, their leadership of major projects and new ventures is greatly influenced by their business acumen and their ability to see how innovation and technology development fit into the bigger picture,” says Dr. Kristina Ropella, Opus Dean, in further explaining the rationale for the program, which is supported by a $1 million gift from Rexnord. The first cohort of 20 or so is set to begin next summer, soon after most members of this inaugural class pick up their engineering degrees from Marquette. Through a blend of classroom and real-world interactive learning opportunities, students will study the integration of business disciplines, including finance, marketing, supply chain management and information technology — all with an engineering overlay. “Bridge to Business was designed specifically with engineers in mind with input from faculty and leadership from both colleges, as well as our business community partners,” adds Kevin Walsh, adjunct instructor of business and a professional engineer who helped lead the program’s development. “What’s more, it represents an excellent example of the productive partnership between engineering and business to advance Marquette’s vision of innovation and collaboration.” — Christopher Stolarski For more on Bridge to Business for Engineers, visit

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OPUS COLLEGE RESEARCH & INNOVATION HEALTH & HUMAN PERFORMANCE DR. TALY GILAT-SCHMIDT BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING On the beat Improving cardiovascular imaging by teaching CT machines to find the precise moment when the heart moves least.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death, accounting for more than 17 million deaths a year, which is expected to grow to more than 23 million by 2030. Early diagnosis is vital to improving this projection. To that end, Dr. Taly Gilat-Schmidt’s Medical Imaging Systems Laboratory focuses on designing and optimizing imaging systems to improve image quality, decrease patient radiation doses and uncover new diagnostic capabilities. The associate professor of biomedical engineering has teamed up with GE Healthcare to improve image quality in the company’s Revolution CT system, specifically for its cardiac-related uses. To determine the presence and severity of stenosis, a narrowing of the arteries and major indicator of cardiac disease, clinicians can use coronary computed tomography angiography — or CCTA — a noninvasive X-ray technology using contrast material. However, cardiac motion can blur the CCTA images taken of the coronary arteries, making it difficult for clinicians to offer accurate diagnoses. Ideally, reconstruction of the images would occur at the phase in the cardiac cycle where the heart is experiencing the least motion, which will vary from patient to patient due to his or her specific heart rate. Gilat-Schmidt and graduate students Daniel Stassi and Honfeng Ma developed an algorithm, recently released as part of GE’s Revolution 2016 model, that automatically selects the best cardiac phase from which to reconstruct the images for optimal results. Novel coronary image quality metrics are calculated independently for each phase and the phase with the highest image quality is selected. The algorithm is the first to be applied to a single-beat, wide cone-beam CT system. Gilat-Schmidt has collaborated with GE before and will continue that relationship to bring more lab research into clinical practice. “It’s most fulfilling to see our research used to help people,” she says. —S.K.

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8,062 MILES

That’s the distance from campus to one of the college’s farthest-reaching sites for international collaboration. In Manila, Philippines, Marquette’s Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Engineering Center — led by director and professor of biomedical engineering Dr. Gerald Harris, P.E. — lends expertise and provides innovative, costeffective hardware and software for gait and clinical movement analysis. Using a sophisticated system of up to 12 Flex13 cameras and special software — installed at a fraction of the $50,000 to $300,000 cost that would normally prove prohibitive in a developing world setting — the clinic provides a standardized gait report depicting knee, hip and ankle kinematics across several planes of motion. As the only gait-analysis lab in the Philippines, each year the site offers clinical refuge to more than 300 children affected by conditions such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, clubfoot, spinal cord injury and other orthopaedic challenges. —B.B.

The Opus College of Engineering is transforming engineering education by preparing today’s engineers to be creative problem-solvers. We invite you to read how our professors and programs are seeking THE NEXT SOLUTIONS TO OUR WORLD’S GREATEST CONCERNS, all the while leading the way for the next generation of Marquette engineers.

Acute lung injury, or ALI, is a rapidly developing, life-threatening condition in which the lung cannot properly supply oxygen to the blood. ALI has several causes including blood infections, pneumonia, transfusions and direct trauma to the lungs. It’s the number one reason patients are admitted to intensive care units, and it claims significant mortality numbers. According to Dr. Said Audi, improving patients’ odds of surviving ALI requires earlier detection methods and novel treatments.

DR. SAID AUDI BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING As breaths turn to gasps Dr. Said Audi focuses on methods for detecting and treating sick lungs before they fail.

Audi ultimately hopes to develop both with a twoyear $378,555 award from the National Institutes of Health’s Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The grant’s objective is to detect and quantify changes in the lung in animal models of ALI prior to there being any clinical evidence of lung injury. Since progression of ALI is rapid, earlier detection can help clinicians save precious hours in administering treatments before symptoms snowball.

injury is imminent. With imaging modalities such as micro-CT, micro-SPECT and optical imaging technologies, along with computational modeling, Audi is able to visualize and quantify biochemical reactions occurring in the lungs. These reactions are indicative of cell death and imminent lung injury. “No other lab has the tools and expertise to see and quantify these biochemical changes at sub-cellular, cellular, whole organ and whole organism levels,” Audi explains. Audi and his collaborators — Dr. Anne Clough, professor of mathematics, statistics and computer science, and Dr. Elizabeth Jacobs, associate chief of staff for research at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center — have published their findings. The next function of the grant is to test a new treatment with fewer side effects than existing treatments, which Audi hopes will eventually make it to clinical setting testing. —S.K.

Audi, Eng ’88, Grad ’90, ’93, professor of biomedical engineering, has identified that an imaging biomarker — HMPAO — indeed shows promise that lung


BRAIN CONNECTIONS Establishing Marquette as a hub for stroke research within the Stroke Rehabilitation Center of Southeast Wisconsin, Dr. Brian Schmit, professor of biomedical engineering, and partners have developed a new multi-department, multi-institutional research laboratory that allows scientists, doctors and patients to visualize neural activity and connections across the brain. Images from a 3-Tesla MRI scanner at Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin feed into Marquette’s Integrative Neural Engineering and Rehabilitation Laboratory where two powerhouse high-performance computing clusters provide the computational power necessary for high-speed modeling and visualization of brain connections. With this computing power and clever parallel processing techniques, the lab is able to model thousands of streamline fibers at every point in the brain, generating 150 GB of data for each person, quantifying billions of connections throughout the entire brain. What used to take dozens of days of computer processing now takes only a few hours. —B.B.

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WATER DR. PATRICK MCNAMARA CIVIL, CONSTRUCTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING What’s in the water? Common soap ingredient could be contributing to the antibiotic-resistance crisis. With more than 23,000 deaths a year in the United States resulting from antibiotic-resistant infections, antibiotic resistance has become a headline-producing public health concern. Dr. Patrick McNamara, Eng ’06, assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, has spent the past year spreading the news on how triclocarban could be part of the antibiotic-resistance crisis. Triclocarban is a common ingredient in antibacterial bar soap. After washing your hands with this type of soap, triclocarban travels down the drain to wastewater treatment plants. A national survey found that it is the most abundant micropollutant in biosolids, the nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of sewage. McNamara’s recent research uncovered something new about this antibacterial agent — that exposure to it often increases the number of antibioticresistant genes to grow within the bacteria found in wastewater treatment plants. “These genes are what make ‘superbugs’ super,” McNamara explains. “Our main concern is that exposure to triclocarban could lead bacteria to develop resistance to other antibiotics that are needed for medical uses.” A separate study from another of McNamara’s research groups discovered that pyrolysis can remove triclocarban from biosolids. Pyrolysis is the heating of wastewater solids at high temperatures (400–800 degrees Celsius) in an oxygen-deprived system, a process that generates high-energy gases such as hydrogen and methane, and also converts the biosolids into a solid product called biochar, which is similar to activated carbon. McNamara’s research also discovered that pyrolysis has the benefit of removing micropollutants, such as triclocarban, from biochar. Micropollutants in biosolids are a concern because biosolids can be used in farm fields as fertilizer. “Our research demonstrates that pyrolysis could be used to mitigate the amount of micropollutants returned to the environment if biochar is used as a soil conditioner,” McNamara adds. —S.K.


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13 ACTIVE PROJECTS AND 12 EXTERNAL RESEARCH PARTNERS Marquette’s presence at Milwaukee’s Global Water Center is more than just the 8,000 square feet our researchers occupy. Thirteen active projects are currently underway focusing on a variety of disciplines and areas, including wastewater treatment, rainwater harvesting, desalination, water law and policy, and public art. Many of the teams are cross-disciplinary and include students, and a number of projects are collaborations with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, as well as industry partners such as A.O. Smith Corp. and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. When a Marquette engineering student senior design project collaborated with the nonprofit engineering consultant Reflo to create a rainwater harvesting system to support urban gardening at the Guest House of Milwaukee, a local homeless shelter (see story on page 14), the team found the GWC to be an ideal central meeting space. “To be in a building surrounded by water-centric people and fresh ideas gave us a little more inspiration and motivation,” says Anne Grzywa, Eng ’16, a team member and project originator. —C.P.

Researchers in Marquette’s Water Quality Center chemically and biologically analyze water, wastewater, soil and sludge in the lab’s 3,700 square feet of space. In its petri dishes and test tubes, the team studies the presence of five health-affecting metals — lead, arsenic, cadmium, chromium and nickel; two algae-producing nutrients — phosphorus and nitrogen; 10 organic contaminants including triclosan, triclocarban, estradiol, estrone and tetracycline; seven viruses and four associated bacteria; and one broad group of disease-causing bacteria classified as coliforms. The group also studies thousands of different useful microbes that could number in the trillions in a treatment plant sample. —S.K.


DR. TING LIN CIVIL, CONSTRUCTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING When seas rise and ground shakes Dr. Ting Lin puts Marquette at the epicenter of efforts to design buildings for earthquakes and other hazards.

Supporting the design of tall buildings to be safe in earthquakes, Lin’s latest project with SCEC focuses on using earthquake ground-motion simulations to assess the response of such structures, with the goal of validating results and demonstrating the advantages of using simulations rather than conventional approaches, which rely on recorded motions coupled with probabilistic seismic hazard assessments. The results suggest that physics-based simulations produced by Broadband Platform and CyberShake — scientific and computational advances enabled by SCEC — can provide novel insights into seismic risk. Lin thinks seismic performance evaluation can benefit tremendously from advancements in structural modeling, seismic hazard characterization, and high-performance computing using both recorded and simulated ground-motion data.

She also foresees the framework of earthquake engineering systems extending to multihazard risk assessments for both natural and constructed environments, such as the coastal areas of the United States and Japan, which need to consider additional challenges from climate change. Probabilistic Sea-Level Rise Hazard Analysis is another novel framework Lin, assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, has introduced and is further investigating. It accounts for uncertainties in sea-level rise projections from emission scenarios and prediction models. “Just as earthquake ground-motion inputs are important for computing the design target for engineering applications, projecting sea levels rising is critical for defining the target for adaptation of coastal infrastructure,” says Lin. “The probabilistic hazard analysis of sea-level rise can be combined with other hazards, such as earthquakes and storm surges, to evaluate the impact of multiple hazards on any system at any given site. “This research … opens up conversations for an all-hazards investigation,” Lin explains. “Through the science of hazard analysis, engineering of performance evaluation, and policy of planning and response, we can achieve multihazard sustainability.” —S.K.

300,000 lbs. With its 18-foot-tall, 4-foot-thick concrete wall and testing floor the size of an NBA court, the college’s Engineering Materials and Structural Testing Laboratory is well equipped to test what happens when large (or repeated) forces are exerted on materials ranging from new structural connections to bridge components and large highway signs. For anchoring purposes, reinforced 4 FEET THICK sleeves spaced every 3 square feet on the large floor can withstand up to 300,000 pounds of force — and multiples of that amount when an object is anchored to several sleeves. Similar wall sleeves can withstand up to 175,000 pounds near the top, and increasing amounts farther down the wall. According to Dave Newman, the lab’s director of engineering operations, the largest project yet completed there involved a complete mezzanine structure from Cubic Designs Inc. (the kind of sturdy elevated platforms used in manufacturing plants or even water parks) that withstood 50,000 pounds of force. One of the longest running projects subjected a Wisconsin Department of Transportation highway sign prototype to more than 2 million repetitions of fatigue loading over months of cycle testing. —E.N.

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Given the less-than-fearsome reputation of Wisconsin’s seismic hot spots, such as Dutchman Creek Fault near Green Bay, Marquette may not be the most obvious selection as a participating institution of the Southern California Earthquake Center. But Marquette has had that distinction since last year, a reflection of the influential seismic performance evaluation research conducted here by Dr. Ting Lin and sponsored by the Los Angeles-based center.

TECHNOLOGY & SYSTEMS Dr. Simcha Singer, who joined Marquette’s engineering faculty in 2014, has been developing a research program to address energy conversion challenges. His research uses numerical modeling to improve the understanding of gasification and combustion of solid and liquid fuels. His efforts have earned his lab a two-year $110,000 Petroleum Research Fund grant from the American Chemical Society.



Dr. Simcha Singer’s research may reveal whether syngas can become an affordable source of electricity.

The number of undergraduates who worked alongside faculty researchers on grant-sponsored projects throughout the college — testing structural component behaviors, building humanoid robots, designing a system to remove salt from water and studying lung vascular function, among other research efforts in systems and across the college. An additional 17 undergraduate researchers were sponsored by the Opus College itself during the 2015–16 academic year. Twenty-seven students worked for Gas Day, a university business in which researchers develop and use software to forecast more than 20 percent of the nation’s daily natural 24 // 2016 gas demand. —S.K.

Gasification — a process that converts carbon-based organic or fossil fuel materials into carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide — is achieved by heating the material to high temperatures, using a controlled amount of oxygen or steam. Gasification is used mainly for the production of chemicals, but has also been proposed to generate electrical power from solid fuels, if it could become economically feasible. “By improving the fundamental understanding and modeling approaches for gasification, our research aims to improve the efficiency of these processes by influencing next-generation designs and/or operation of existing devices,” says Singer, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. Gasification of coal or biomass (organic matter used as fuel) produces syngas — a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and other gases. The gasification behavior of individual coal or biomass particles is known to affect outputs, such as conversion efficiency and syngas composition. Singer explains that to increase efficiency it is necessary to better understand the interaction between chemical reaction and gas transport (diffusion of reactants into and within the particle’s pores) at the individual particle level. The faster the transport, the faster the reaction will occur. To date, existing approaches have limited applicability because of their simplistic treatment of the particle structure, which is highly irregular and porous. But with Dr. Taly Gilat-Schmidt’s micro-CT imaging equipment, which can detect much of a particle’s complex internal structure, Singer can obtain realistic porous particle geometries. He will then use these geometries in gasification simulations to understand the interactions between reaction, gas transport and structure during gasification. —S.K.

CAPTAIN The name of the Humanoid Engineering and Intelligent Robotics Lab’s Darwin-OP2 robot. Dr. Andrew Williams, Grad ’95, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of HEIR, says more than 16 multipurpose robots reside in his lab, including Nao Humanoids, TurtleBots, MU-L8s and a Roomba. Some of their affectionate nicknames: Rosie, Kimberly, Tarz and Case. Also using — but not naming — research robots are several additional faculty members. Dr. Joseph Schimmels, Eng ’81, professor of mechanical engineering, is developing robot joints that have variable stiffness to provide highly accurate positioning for some tasks or to work more safely with people in other tasks. Dr. Henry Medeiros, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is using robots for navigation research in his Computer Vision and Sensing Systems Lab. A bilateral motorized leg robot employed by Dr. Brian Schmit, professor of biomedical engineering, is equipped with six load cells to record torque around the hips, knees, and ankles during movement. And Dr. Philip Voglewede, associate professor of mechanical engineering, also uses three robots for demonstration purposes in dynamics, and measurements and controls courses. —S.K. For information, photos and video of the HEIR robotics lab, visit


DR. JOHN BORG MECHANICAL ENGINEERING Grace under pressure Dr. John Borg’s research continues to advance the discovery of how earth materials respond to sudden forces.

Dr. John Borg, P.E., has conducted research for the U.S. military before. In fact, he just concluded a five-year project for the Department of Defense, just as he’s starting his latest one: “Resolving Dynamic Behavior of Earth Materials Using a Pressure Shear Configuration,” a three-year $402,000 grant from the government’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The main question to be answered by Borg’s research is: How do earth materials respond to impacts? Impacts in Borg’s lab are simulating such events as meteor collisions, earthquakes, bomb detonations and fracking. He and his students will start testing first the earth material silica, or sand, and then likely move into clay from there. They shoot varied types of “bullets,” actually flat plates usually made of copper or aluminum, from a 16-foot-long, 2-inch-barreled gun. The size of the bullet is irrelevant, according to Borg, professor of mechanical engineering. It’s the speed at which the bullet makes impact that counts.

AND YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR MANY. At Marquette University, students learn how to

“The experiment in time lasts as long as it takes for the bullet to impact the earth material, which is like two-thirds of a millionth of a second in time,” says Borg.

become fearless leaders, agile thinkers and

Clearly, this is not an experiment that can be measured with the eyes. Lasers record the densities, sounds and speeds of each impact, and the researchers make observations from that data.

who desire to Be The Difference for others, ready

The military is interested in this research to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to bomb building, as combat is fought deeper and deeper underground. But Borg says his findings can even support discoveries light years away, as astrophysicists use the gathered information to determine the material make-up of other celestial bodies using impact ring shapes and characteristics to learn what lies beneath the surface. —S.K.

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effective doers. Your gift to scholarship aid will help provide a Marquette education for students in the spirit of St. Ignatius to “go forth and set the world on fire.” or call 800.344.7544.

Entries by Brian Boyle, Sarah Koziol, Ellen Neiers and Clare Peterson.

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BRING ON THE FUTURE A WORLD-CLASS HUB OF HUMAN PERFORMANCE University leaders are preparing the way for the creation of an athletic performance research center on largely vacant space north of the Marquette Interchange between 6th and 10th streets. This expansive building will combine indoor practice facilities for Marquette’s lacrosse, soccer, golf and track teams with a world-class research facility for burgeoning fields such as exercise physiology, athletic training, biomedical engineering, nutrition and rehabilitation. The Milwaukee Bucks signed on as an early partner and were joined by Aurora Health Care whose $40 million pledged investment — Aurora’s largest ever for a Milwaukee partnership — gave the project’s fundraising efforts a major boost. “This center is not only going to transform Marquette, but also transform Milwaukee, as it’s going to become a national center of excellence and destination for scholars, students and researchers from across the country,” says Marquette President Michael R. Lovell.

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“I think it will attract the best and brightest to Milwaukee. … It will totally transform the corridor where it exists and provide another vibrant area of downtown.”

— Bill Scholl, Vice President and Director of Athletics

SEATS AT THE COLLABORATIVE TABLE: The research center sets the stage for expertise sharing involving engineering faculty and Marquette colleagues from athletic training, exercise science and other fields. “The devices implemented in the center might be structural or electromechanical, or might incorporate chemical, biological or nanotechnology sensors that integrate the expertise of science faculty as well,” says Dr. Barbara Silver-Thorn, associate professor of biomedical and mechanical engineering.

As Marquette enters a new era of leadership and innovation, planning is underway for one world-class project, the athletic performance research center. Meanwhile, an intriguing vision is emerging for what could become another one, Innovation Alley — potentially further transforming campus with impressive new spaces, unique partnerships and super-charged opportunities for learning, product development and startup ventures. Not surprisingly, the Opus College has an indispensable role to play in both of these visions for what will and what could be Marquette’s future.

A THERAPEUTIC MISSION: Although the center’s main focus will be athletics, its scope extends further. Faculty members such as biomedical engineering professor Dr. Gerald Harris look forward to the tremendous opportunities it could offer other populations in the community — specifically the transformative rehabilitative services and devices it could offer those with functional impairments or those who have suffered a debilitating injury.

MIND OVER MATTER: As all athletes know, competition is as much mental as it is physical. So it makes sense that the center would offer opportunities to hone mental skills as well. Silver-Thorn notes that virtual reality advances would allow athletes to put themselves into the unwelcoming environments they often face in road games and learn how to overcome these challenges.

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A VISION FOR AN ALLEY OF INNOVATION CONNECTING ENGINEERING AND BUSINESS Among President Lovell’s many goals as president is to double the university’s research efforts by fiscal year 2020. While the athletic performance research center is one step toward that goal, a key contributor could also come in the form of what university leaders are calling Innovation Alley, a collection of facilities and programming that would run from Engineering Hall on 16th Street to connect with a potential new site for the College of Business Administration. Opus Dean Kristina Ropella, who originally pitched the idea to campus leadership, calls it “an interdisciplinary space where engineering and applied science meet business to push the envelope of product development and people development in a knowledge-based economy. It will prepare our graduates to be creative and entrepreneurial, serving innovation and product development for the greater university community and beyond.” The concept has been considered as a future prospect in Marquette’s campus master planning process and mentioned in a similar vein by President Lovell in presentations to alumni and other supporters.

INDUSTRY-FRIENDLY: The facility would offer spaces for members of industry to co-locate to fuel: collaboration, sponsored research and technology transfer. Casual meeting spaces would support students and industry partners engaging in entrepreneurial activity.

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BRINGING REAL-LIFE SITUATIONS TO THE CLASSROOM: While many students have co-op or internship employment that allows them to experience certain phases of the product life cycle, Innovation Alley would offer space for each phase of product development. Without ever stepping foot off campus, students could see the power their ideas have to create something that ultimately improves people’s quality of life.

CROSS-CAMPUS COLLABORATION: A meeting of each college’s dean along with Provost Daniel Myers opened up discussion for how Innovation Alley could serve each college. This has led to plans for spaces dedicated to digital humanities, biology, environmental science, supply chain management, and more.

“The promise is there for Innovation Alley to serve as a prime destination for entrepreneurially minded students and faculty members — creative, innovative and courageous change agents who want to make a difference in the world. That is the Ignatian spirit.”

—Dr. Kristina Ropella, Opus Dean of Engineering

MAKER SPACES: A crucial part of Innovation Alley would be “maker spaces,” offering flexible machine shops and discovery learning labs (perhaps equipped with clear garage-style doors that open wide for collaboration) as well as advanced technology for 3-D printing, robotics and prototype creation and testing — basically everything students and faculty would need to take an idea from genesis all the way to prototype and commercial product.

CREATIVITY SPACES: Ropella believes students would also benefit from “creativity spaces,” such as sound-recording studios and digital media labs, that would offer stretch opportunities beyond what is considered traditional engineering terrain.

Text by Kate Sheka

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Marquette University, P.O. Box 1881, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-1881 USA

BE CREATIVE. SOLVE PROBLEMS. CHANGE THE WORLD. The majority of the world’s engineers serve but a minority of the world. In the Opus College of Engineering, we believe that engineering is bigger than that. We immerse our students in rich experiences and demand that they think critically. We prepare them to become adept problem solvers who are creative, innovative, technically proficient and ready to lead. Ready to be Marquette engineers who solve problems for the majority. Ready to Be The Difference.