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Inside Director’s Message___________________________ 2 Donation Benefits Plastics Program____________ 2 Industrial Engineering Major Added___________ 2 Supermileage Team is No. 1!__________________ 3 Building Future Engineers____________________ 4 Students Take in a Wee Bit O’ Ireland___________ 7 Engineering Honor Society Established_______ 8

School of engineering 2013

Engineering News Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

Alumni Inspire Significant Investments Paying It Forward Alumni employment statistics are one measure of a college’s success, but an even better yardstick may be how satisfied employers are with the graduates they hire. Penn State Behrend’s talented engineering alumni are making such an impact in the world that companies like FMC Technologies Measurement Solutions, Autodesk, and Northrop Grumman are partnering with the college to help educate the next generation of innovative problem-solvers.

Students George Gotsiridze, left, and Steven Porter work with the Autodesk entertainment software program.

Image created with Autodesk’s Maya software

A $21.7-million tool box When leaders at Autodesk, a Californiabased developer of 3D design, engineering, and entertainment products, realized some of the company’s best engineers came from, in their words, “this little college in the upper corner of Pennsylvania,” they wanted to learn more about the school. Jeff Higgins ’97 and Matt Jaworski ’98, School of Engineering graduates and Autodesk employees, put company officials in touch with John Beaumont, professor of engineering. After visiting the college,

Autodesk officials were so impressed that they decided to make a first-of-its-kind gift—$21.7 million in software that makes the company’s top products available to every student on campus. “Our software is a tool—the hammer and nails, if you will,” Tom Cameron, vice president of manufacturing sales at Autodesk, said last fall at the software gift announcement. “It’s the minds you are developing here that create the really cool stuff. Now they have the tools to take it to the next level.” Continued on page 4 } 1

Director’s Message Manufacturing is a driver of economic growth that has an unmatched impact on regional economies and leads to higher-wage jobs, productivity, and prosperity. The success of regions in creating and growing manufacturing clusters Ralph M. Ford, Ph.D. is directly linked to the ability to provide access to advanced research and development, support for new product innovation and entrepreneurship, and an educated workforce. Penn State Behrend is uniquely positioned as a key driver of our regional economy with its strengths in engineering, science, business, and the humanities. In the School of Engineering, our vision is to be a place where making things matters. We aim to develop leaders who understand how to innovate and are capable of conceiving, designing, developing, and manufacturing new products. How are we doing this? By providing our students with a rigorous education, combining it with interdisciplinary experiences and practical design projects, while maintaining close ties with our industry partners. One example is our joint manufacturing and finance class project, where teams of business and engineering students identify a product to manufacture, develop a business plan, design the product, and figure out how to produce it. The results are then critiqued by community business leaders. Further, with our applied research focus, flexible intellectual property approach, and Open Lab strategy we are growing our research engagement with industry—providing benefit for our students, faculty, and industry partners. Making things matters—It’s critical to the future prosperity of our region and nation.


Students work on an injection molding machine recently donated by Plastikos Inc.

Heavyweight Donation Talk about moving mountains! Plastikos Inc. recently donated a 7,000-pound injection-molding machine to the School of Engineering. Now firmly planted in the plastics processing lab in Burke Center, the machine has been fitted with a Star robot, also donated by the Erie-based custom injection molder and its sister business, Micro Mold Co. The robot interface will allow the machine to be used in automation classes. The equipment will give students experience on tools commonly used in production environments. That should give them an advantage as they enter the job market, said Rob Cooney ’01, manufacturing manager at Plastikos and a graduate of Behrend’s School of Engineering who was instrumental in securing the gift for the school. The machine is equipped with several options, including a core-pull system and cavity pressure monitoring, which provides consistency in molds.

Industrial Engineering Major Added Design engineers typically focus on the details of a project: the thickness of a filing cabinet’s walls or the diameter of a cup holder in a car’s console. Students in the new Industrial Engineering major, which will be offered beginning this fall, will take a wider view. Their studies, which can lead to jobs in nearly any industry, will teach them to pinpoint inefficiencies in workflow and other interconnected business and manufacturing systems. The work is challenging. It requires a foundation in science, math, economics, and engineering principles, plus an understanding of the human factor, including work habits and customer expectations. It is the only branch of engineering that is explicitly concerned with people as well as things. “Industrial engineers need to have a high level of people skills,” said Dr. Russ Warley, associate professor and chair of the mechanical and industrial engineering department. “They’re not going to be working at a desk, crunching numbers and analyzing components. They’re going to be leading teams.”

Superstars! Behrend wins SAE International Supermileage Challenge Penn State Behrend’s Supermileage Team took first place in the Society of Automotive Engineers 2012 International Supermileage Challenge, up four spots from the team’s 2011 finish. Using ingenuity, a lightweight, aerodynamic design, and a lawnmower engine, the fifteen-member team aced both the design phase of the two-day competition and the test drive. On the track, the vehicle recorded a run at a pace that would squeeze 1,485 miles out of a single gallon of gas! The team is already hard at work on the 2013 vehicle. “We started that on the drive home from the competition,” team member John Pearson said with a laugh. Pearson and his twin brother and teammate, Taylor Pearson, both mechanical engineering majors on schedule to graduate in May, will have one final go around Eaton Corporation’s Proving Grounds in Marshall, Michigan. We talked to the Pearson brothers, teammate Cody Colpo, a sophomore engineering major, and team adviser Rich Englund, associate professor of engineering, about the big win: What does this win mean for the team? John Pearson: To me, it means our team managed to get everything right. It’s nice to see three years of work and experience pay off. Taylor Pearson: Being No. 1 holds a lot of weight. This is the first time a Penn State team has won first place at an SAE competition.

91 1,485 22 lbs.

weight of Supermileage vehicle


winning test drive pace


How does this competition benefit students? Rich Englund: Students get the chance to turn design into reality and really grasp the challenges involved in making parts they have designed. What do you need to achieve maximum super mileage? TP: In no particular order, you need reliability, engine efficiency, aerodynamic drag, rolling resistance, driving strategy, and a skilled driver. None of these are easy to attain and you have to have all of them working properly to do well. What would people be surprised to know? Cody Colpo: We utilize a “burn and coast” method of driving. The driver fires the engine for five seconds to get the car up to speed, and then cuts the engine and coasts around the track for two minutes until it’s time to fire the engine and get the car up to speed again. JP: Even at 15 m.p.h., it’s very scary to drive the vehicle because you sit very low to the ground and the car is so narrow that it feels like you’re going 70 m.p.h. How does this experience prepare you for your future career? JP: Being on the team helped me land the great job I will be starting after I graduate. Employers like to see outside projects on your resume and being on the Supermileage Team is a great way to show that you’re really interested in engineering. I spend every Friday night working with the principles I learn all week. Read more Q&A and see dozens of photos at

maximum speed of Supermileage vehicle


Building Future Engineers, Brick by Brick If you want to grow innovative engineers, it’s best to start early. For many children, LEGOs, those classic interlocking plastic pieces, are a first introduction to basic engineering concepts. Last fall, hundreds of students age 9 to 14 competed in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO League, an annual youth robotics competition held at Penn State Behrend. Working in teams, the students were tasked with building and using LEGO-based robots to complete specific tasks that mimic the daily challenges that senior citizens face: grabbing or knocking down a certain block, for example, or navigating a bridge. The competition is an international effort designed to introduce young people to real-world engineering quandaries. Teams are presented with different challenges each year. Time Warner Cable recently donated $2,000 to support the Engineering K-12 Outreach Center and the FIRST LEGO League, helping to provide building blocks for future generations of innovative leaders. For more information about the school’s K-12 outreach programs, visit

Penn State Behrend alumnus Mitch Reckner ’08, left, an ultrasonic engineer at FMC Technologies, collaborates wit and Nick Morganti, both juniors majoring in mechanical engineering. Continued from page 1

The gift includes Autodesk’s Entertainment Creation Suite, which was used to animate the last seventeen films that won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. The Autodesk software will jumpstart the college’s digital media, arts, and technology initiative, which blends film and video game development with other advanced simulation work. Also included in the gift are advanced engineering analysis and design tools, including Simulation Moldflow, an engineering tool that optimizes the design of plastic parts and injection molds to cut costs and speed production processes. The college now can offer the annual Moldflow Certification exam. Making room for more talent FMC Technologies Measurement Solutions, a manufacturer of precision metering products for the oil and gas industry, knows a thing or two about pipelines. So it’s no surprise the com-


pany recognized the engineering talent pipeline coming out of Burke Center. Not only did FMC Technologies recognize that talent, but it also invested in it with a $500,000 expansion at its Erie facility to employ Penn State Behrend student interns year-round. The new, 2,000-square-foot Engineering Design Center is expected to boost the Erie division’s role in FMC Technologies’ global subsea engineering work. When fully staffed, the center will employ twelve interns. The center builds on a ten-year partnership between FMC Technologies and Penn State Behrend. “We are proud of our strong and longstanding relationship with Penn State Behrend and its School of Engineering,” said Jim Ertl, vice president and general manager of measurement products for FMC Technologies. “We’re both leaders in our respective disciplines and this center will allow us to provide tomorrow’s engineers with the skills and experience necessary to make a lasting, positive impact.”

Faculty and Staff News New Faculty and Staff Dr. Greg Dillon has been named associate director for research and technology transfer and associate professor of engineering. You can read more about Dr. Dillon at The School welcomes five new faculty members: Dr. Chetan P. Nikhare, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; Dr. Alicyn Rhoades, assistant professor of engineering; Kurt Rogers, lecturer in electrical and computer engineering; Dr. Nancy Study, lecturer in engineering, and Dr. Matthew White, lecturer in game development. Read more about them at Roberta “Bobbie” Peters is a new member of the school office staff, providing administrative support for course scheduling and student advising.

Research Grants

th interns Brad Kasperski, center,

Northrop Grumman helps fund student trips to the Society of Women Engineers national conferences, such as the one in Chicago, above.

“ Our experience has been that Behrend students are well prepared for the workforce, and they are quick learners who fit well into our business areas.” Securing future leaders Bob Raybits ’73 comes “home” to Penn State Behrend regularly to recruit for his employer, Northrop Grumman, a leading global security company with corporate headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. “Our experience has been that Behrend students are well prepared for the workforce, and they are quick learners who fit well into our business areas,” said Raybits, lead recruiter at Northrop Grumman. “We are looking for top engineering, computer science, and software engineering talent.” They are finding that talent at Penn State Behrend; the company has hired more than a dozen engineering graduates in the past five years. But Northrop Grumman’s commitment to the college goes beyond putting graduates to work. The company also sponsors senior projects and the Society

of Women Engineers (SWE). Northrop Grumman has provided funding for the SWE group to travel to its national convention as well as to tour Northrop Grumman’s Baltimore, Maryland, facility. “We believe strongly in the value of a diverse and inclusive workforce,” Raybits said. “SWE helps us to reach out to women engineers and encourage them to be leaders.” The company also sends Northrop Grumman technical experts to lead a software development seminar at Penn State Behrend each year. “When the experts return, they consistently tell me that Behrend students ask great questions and seem to truly understand the material they are learning in class,” Raybits said. “The rigor of classes and quality of education they are receiving is evident.”

Dr. William Lasher, professor of mechanical engineering, and Mike Willis, lecturer in mechanical engineering, have obtained a $14,300 grant to conduct research for Dresser-Rand. Jason Williams, lecturer in engineering, has received a $17,500 grant to conduct research for LORD Corporation.

Award Recipients Four faculty members were recognized with School of Engineering Awards in 2012: Ronald McCarty, senior lecturer in computer science and software engineering, Excellence in Service Award; Jason Williams, lecturer in engineering, Excellence in Outreach Award; Dr. Yongfang Zhong, assistant professor of engineering, Excellence in Faculty Research Award, and Dr. Jun Zhou, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, Excellence in Teaching Award.

School Leadership Dr. Ralph Ford, director of the School of Engineering, was selected as the 2013 IEEE Vice-President of Member and Geographic Activities. Dr. Dipo Onipede, associate professor of mechanical engineering, has been named associate director of academics for the school.


Students Help Design Cell-Phone Game

To understand the concept of confirmation bias, you just have to finish this pattern: Two, four, six … Say “eight,” and you’re showing bias. The given numbers tell you too little about the pattern’s structure to know for certain where it’s headed: Do the numbers have to be even and increase by two? Or do they just have to increase?

Without asking, you can’t know the answer. You unconsciously rule out any options that do not support the choice you believe to be true — in this case, that you’re counting by twos. That’s confirmation bias. “The trick is to step back and be aware of whatever bias you bring to a given scenario,” said Stephen Chalker, a software engineering major. “But it’s hard to remember to do that.” He and two other students — Joe Grise and Kit Torrelli, also software engineering majors — have been practicing. Their senior capstone project is to develop a mobile version of “The Mind’s Lie,” a bias-teaching game designed by Kristan Wheaton, an associate professor of intelligence studies at Mercyhurst University. The students hope to expand the game, which is played in a classroom setting, to include anyone, anywhere, with a cell phone. Wheaton designed “The Mind’s Lie” to teach students to be conscious of cognitive biases, which can cloud decision-making. Players are given a scenario and asked to identify one of six kinds of bias that might be present. They earn points for voting with the majority or, during a discussion, for convincing others that a different answer is correct. Wheaton, a proponent of gamebased learning, believes it will appeal to corporate trainers and military planners. “It can help you know when you’re being lied to,” he said. In the intelligence field, where you’re working with foreign governments, people sometimes do lie to you.” The game works better with a large group of people, Wheaton said. A mobile version would open it to even wider use. But the design does bring some challenges. “There’s a class dynamic when you play in person,” Wheaton said. “You see the body language. You hear the passion when people make their arguments. And right or wrong, that factors into your decision.” The Penn State Behrend group, whose work is being supervised by Dr. Matthew White, lecturer in game development, is building the game for the Android platform. The students will use some kind of chat function to encourage discussion, with a real-time ranking of players’ answers. “We can’t have them all sitting around a single phone,” Chalker said. “If you did, you wouldn’t need this.”

“ Protons don’t lie. Neutrons don’t lie. But … people do.”

Dr. Matthew White, lecturer in game development, and Stephen Chalker, a senior majoring in software engineering, recently attended the Game Development Conference in San Francisco and blogged while they were there. Read all about it at


Erin Go Bragh! Plastics students take in a wee bit o’ Ireland As the plastics industry becomes increasingly global, it’s important that today’s plastics engineering technology students gain international travel experience and diverse business perspectives before they graduate. This past fall, fourteen seniors enrolled in PLET 499: International Plastics Experience and four faculty and staff members spent ten days exploring Ireland. While there, they toured plastics manufacturing plants and visited institutes of higher learning while also taking in a wee bit of fun, soaking in the local culture (literally, it rains a lot in Ireland) and visiting some of the most famous sites. (See list at right). Why Ireland? “There’s a fair amount of plastics processing in Ireland, and it’s quite different from what students are used to here,” said Jon Meckley, associate professor of engineering and chair of the plastics engineering technology department. “For instance, well over 60 percent of the plastic used in Europe is recycled, which is far above the American average. There’s much we can learn from observing how they do business.”

Highlights of the Trip Dublin: Phoenix Park, Saint Patrick Cathedral, the Book of Kells at Trinity College, Kilmainham Gaol, Guinness Storehouse County Meath: Newgrange Tomb, Trim Castle Athlone: Athlone Institute of Technology, Harmac Medical Products County Clare: Molex Ireland, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Cliffs of Moher, Ennis Abbey County Kerry: Inch Beach, Dingle Peninsula, Blasket Island Center, Gallarus Oratory, Torc Falls in Killarney Park Blarney, Cork and Kilkenny: Blarney Castle, Cobb Heritage Centre, Jameson Distillery, Kilkenny Castle.


School of Engineering 242 Burke Center 5101 Jordan Road Erie, PA 16563-1701

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Starring … Penn State Behrend! The School of Engineering’s progressive programs and collaborative relationship with business and industry were featured in a five-minute video shown at the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Watch the video, part of a series of videos developed by ASEE to highlight best practices in engineering education, at

National Honor Society Established Forty-five students and alumni recently were inducted into Tau Beta Pi, the college’s new chapter of the national engineering honor society.

The students are, by definition, among the best in their discipline: Only the top one-eighth of juniors and one-fifth of seniors are eligible for membership. Induction into the society brings an expectation of additional academic engagement. Tau Beta Pi members are required to tutor and do community service, and to be active at both social events and professional seminars. “We want members to enhance their education beyond the formal classroom,” said Dr. Bill Lasher, professor of mechanical engineering and adviser to the chapter. Student interest in the society has been strong since 2008, when a five-member planning committee formed a local society in accordance with Tau Beta Pi’s process for petitioning to create a formal chapter. Tau Beta Pi was founded at Lehigh University in 1885. The society now has 540,000 members and 240 active college chapters.

Dr. Bill Lasher, left, professor of mechanical engineering and adviser to the Penn State Behrend chapter of Tau Beta Pi, and Matthew Erdman, center, a senior mechanical engineering major, accept the honor society’s chapter charter from Dr. Jonathan Earle, executive councilor of the Tau Beta Pi Association.

Engineering News is published annually and provided free to alumni and friends of the Penn State Behrend School of Engineering by the Office of Marketing Communication, William V. Gonda,, director. Editor: Heather Cass, Designer: Martha Ansley Campbell, This publication is available in alternative media upon request. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce. U.Ed. EBO 13-102


Engineering News - 2013  

News from Penn State Behrend's School of Engineering