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Inside Director’s Message___________________________ 2 $15.6 Million Innovation Center Underway______ 3 Students Develop Shuttle Bus Tracker_________ 4 Molding Dreams into Reality_________________ 9 Supermileage Team No. 1 Again!______________ 10 Faculty and Staff News______________________ 11 Alumnus Leaves $1.1 Million Gift____________ 12



Open Lab Realized You may have heard the term “open lab,” but do you know what it actually is? It’s not just a buzzword or vague concept. It’s a formal partnership between industry and academia in which faculty members and students work with engineers, scientists, and technical personnel on applied research projects sponsored and, ultimately owned, by the companies involved. “Open lab is a true win-win,” said Dr. Ralph Ford, director of the School of Engineering and associate dean for industry and external relations. “Our students and faculty members benefit from the expertise and knowledge of industry partners. At the same time, their work advances the technology that supports companies.”

Open lab Exhibit A The SKF North America Aerospace Innovation Center, a 1,400-square foot research and development space in Knowledge Park, is a great example of a successful open lab partnership. Having graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Technology program himself, Greg Zimmerman ’02, manager of product development for SKF USA, knew collaborating with the School of Engineering could benefit SKF. He championed the innovation center,

Greg Zimmerman ’02, center, manager of product development for SKF USA, has been working on a polymer project with Dr. Alicyn Rhoades ’01, assistant professor of engineering, second from left, and engineering students, from left, Ryan Gillon, Anne Musgrave ’13, and Jeremy Weigand.

which opened in January 2013. “Behrend offered a package with three key elements: a flexible intellectual property policy, shared research space close to the college, and a business-minded team structure already in place to support open lab development,” Zimmerman said. Currently, more than a dozen students and faculty members are working on four long-term research projects, collaborating with SKF Aerospace teams

in the United States and Europe to offer highly engineered customized solutions for aircraft, helicopter, engine, and system manufacturers. With success comes growth Dr. Alicyn Rhoades ’01, assistant professor of engineering, has been working on a polymer technology project for SKF Aerospace for more than a year. Early Continued on page 10


Director’s Message

Ralph M. Ford, Ph.D.

What is the value of a university education? What’s the return on investment for earning a college degree? What might be lost if students take all of their courses online? What are universities doing to support economic development in their communities?

These are the big questions of the day. While we don’t profess to have all of the answers, the activities our students and faculty members are engaged in through our open lab strategy provide some insight and demonstrate the power of a university education when blended with initiative, innovation, and collaboration with business and industry partners. Two sophomore engineering students, Austin Kelleher and Dan Hankewycz, envisioned and created a real-time campus shuttle bus tracking system, which enhanced the lives of their fellow students. A Plastics Engineering Technology senior helped a local inventor and entrepreneur realize her dreams and bring the “Santi a pennello” brush to market. With the opening of the SKF Innovation Center in our Knowledge Park, our students and faculty members are engaged in applied research projects with a global industry partner. And, last but not least, our students built another winning supermileage vehicle that took top honors at the SAE International Supermileage competition in Marshall, Michigan, in 2013. These are all examples of the School of Engineering’s vision of being a place where making things matters—integrating the fundamentals of science and engineering with practical experiences. It is why our alumni are highly sought after and it is testament to the importance and value of a Penn State Behrend degree.


New Interdisciplinary Master’s Degree Offered

The School of Engineering is now offering its first master’s degree. The 32-credit Master of Manufacturing Management will provide a unique set of engineering, business, quality-control, and communication skills that are considered to be essential to management success in an increasingly global marketplace. Classes will begin in July. Within the Penn State system, the program is offered exclusively at Behrend. It is being administered by the college’s School of Engineering in collaboration with the Sam and Irene Black School of Business. Graduates of the program will learn the fundamentals of materials, processes, and product design, as well as the critical skills that are required to communicate effectively at all levels of an organization. They will develop leadership and team-building techniques and process-improvement methods that focus on lean manufacturing and Six Sigma standards. The initial courses for the Master of Manufacturing Management program are designed for working professionals, with small classes meeting in evening sessions. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree in an engineering, engineering technology, business, or science discipline and have a solid background in calculus, statistics, and computing. For more information, contact the School of Engineering at 814-898-6153 or email

60,000 Square Feet of Opportunity As the School of Engineering’s reputation for excellence grows, so does its student enrollment, roster of industry partners, and facility needs. To accommodate the rapidly expanding school and provide space for students, faculty members, and business and industry associates to work together, the college will soon break ground on a $15.6 million Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Center on the south side of Technology Drive, near the Jack Burke Research and Economic Development Center. The two-story building will add 60,000 square feet of space to Knowledge Park, a partnership of the college and DevelopErie. More than 500 people already work in the park’s five buildings, which are fully occupied.

The new building will contain eight classrooms and twenty-five faculty offices. Industrial tenants will occupy nearly half of the new building, where shared research space will support collaboration with students and faculty members. The center will advance the college’s “open lab” initiative in which students, faculty members, and business leaders engage in research and development as teams. Corporate tenants at the center will have access to the school’s engineering labs and equipment. Those resources, combined with a new relaxed Penn State intellectual property policy that allows companies to own the results of the research they fund, are drawing technology companies to Knowledge Park.

The center will advance the college’s “open lab” initiative.




faculty offices


corporate employees expected


students currently enrolled in engineering programs


accommodation for additional students


square feet of space


Students Drive Change

Austin Kelleher, left, and Daniel Hankewycz built a tracking system for the campus shuttle bus. Students can now use their smartphones to see exactly when the bus will arrive at stops on campus.

On a campus with 1,400 budding engineers, maintaining the status quo is unlikely. Engineers, by nature, change the world around them—rethinking products, enhancing operations, and finding ways to do things more cost effectively. Someone is always working to improve something. Case in point: The free campus shuttle bus, the “e,” which loops through the college from University Gates to Knowledge Park, now can be tracked online in real time. If you’re a student standing in the cold and wondering when the next bus is coming, you can whip out your smartphone and visit to watch the vehicles’ progress. You can even click on the stop to get an estimated time of arrival at each location. The project was student-driven, from concept to application. “The original idea was suggested to me by one of our stu-

dents, Jeffrey Knapp, but time constraints made it impossible for him to work on it,” said Dr. Chris Coulston, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. Coulston presented the project as an independent research experience to Computer Engineering sophomore Daniel Hankewycz and Computer Science sophomore Austin Kelleher. “They had buckets of enthusiasm, and they have lots of talent,” Coulston said. The students worked closely with Coulston over the summer to build, install, and test the shuttle tracker system. “Daniel worked next to me in the office and built several printed circuit boards and did a lot of the programming,” Coulston said. “Austin worked on the web development from his home in New York. The three of us had conference calls nearly every day to discuss accomplishments and plans.”

The free campus bus now can be tracked online in real time.







A mobile tracking device installed on the bus determines the bus’ position using GPS satellite.


The GPS satellite communicates this information to base stations.


The base stations located in Burke Center and Knowledge Park communicate this information using special radios.

 INTERNET A software program translates the location information into an easy-to-follow “e” logo superimposed on a campus map.


The bus’ location can be viewed in real time via an app on your smartphone.

The system works like this: A mobile tracking device, built by Hankewycz and installed on the bus, determines its position using GPS satellite, then communicates this to base stations in Burke Center and Knowledge Park using special radios. Then, a software program written by Kelleher translates the location information into an easy-to-follow “e” logo superimposed on a campus map. While it sounds simple, there were, of course, many challenges along the way. “The radio we started with wasn’t powerful enough so we had to upgrade that,” Hankewycz said, “and we had to figure out how to compensate for momentary loss of the bus’ signal,” Kelleher said. “So, at times, the software has to predict where the bus is based on its speed and where it was last.” The project has been well received. On average, it is visited 100 times a day. There’s no doubt that Hankewycz and Kelleher’s summer project made life a little easier for their fellow students, particularly during what turned out to be an unusually brutal winter.


Check out the Behrend Bus FAQ page at for more information. 5

Governor Touts Partnership

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett toured FMC Technologies Measurement Solutions in Erie and was impressed by the partnership the company has forged with the college. “At the FMC Technologies Engineering Design Center, engineering students from Penn State Behrend work on company projects while at the same time training for jobs,” Corbett said. “It’s a clear example of how, by partnering with the energy industry, we have made it possible for technology firms to expand in Pennsylvania, while spinning off thousands of other jobs up and down the supply chain.” 6

Student-Created App Available on Android Market “The Mind’s Lie,” a cell-phone game designed by 2013 Software Engineering graduates Stephen Chalker, Kit Torrelli, and Joe Grise was put on Android Market in February and has already been downloaded nearly 100 times. It is the first game designed by Penn State Behrend students to be sold in a public app store. “It is extremely rewarding,” said Chalker. “This was the first project I worked on that was not just for a grade, but for the public to download and play.” The game was designed to be used in classes taught by Kristan Wheaton, an associate professor of intelligence studies at Mercyhurst University, but now it can be played anywhere by anyone. In “The Mind’s Lie,” 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 convincing others that a different answer is correct. Chalker said the game is played by individuals in the intelligence field, and

downloads have grown steadily. “It is the crown jewel of my resume, and people are fascinated whenever I bring it up,” Chalker said. “I really have to thank the folks at Penn State Behrend for having a senior design program where students can get real-world experience.” “The Mind’s Lie” may have been the first game, but Dr. Matthew White, lecturer in game development, believes it will not be the last. “For us, the most important thing about this is that it’s proved a concept,” White said. “From beginning to end, our students can build a game and launch it on a public store.”

FMC Technologies Donates 3D Printer Engineering students have a new tool in their design belt—a 3D printer that can produce in real form virtually any shape students can create with computer-aided design software. The printer, which was donated by FMC Technologies, is worth more than $40,000. 3D printers allow product designers to create functional, lightweight prototypes and parts in a fraction of the time and cost of using traditional tool-and-die methods. The gift of the machine enhances an existing partnership between the college and FMC Technologies Measurement Solutions, an Erie-based manufacturer of precision metering products for the oil and gas industry. More than twenty Penn State Behrend engineering students are currently employed at the company’s $500,000 engineering design center, which opened in 2012.

Pictured with the new 3D printer are, from left, Dr. Greg Dillon, associate director for research/technology transfer; Jim Ertl, vice president and general manager of FMC Technologies’ Erie operations; Edward Saffron, FMC’s Erie operations manager, and Dr. Ralph Ford, director of the School of Engineering and associate dean for industry and external relations.


“ Never in a million years did I dream that I’d be an inventor. If it weren’t for Penn State Behrend, I wouldn’t be.” — F R A N C E S C A D I S A N T I , E R I E I N V E N TO R


Senior Project Molds Hairdresser Into Entrepreneur Francesca DiSanti has been styling hair for nearly forty years. For thirty of them, she has been lamenting the loss of a special tool—a flexible plastic brush/comb combo—that made unsnarling curly or tangled hair easy and painless. DiSanti lost the tool early in her career and was never able to find another like it. She mentioned her dilemma to a client who suggested that DiSanti make her own tool. “I laughed and said, ‘Me? How would I ever do that?’” she said. The client, Kathy Dahlkemper, Erie’s county executive and a former U.S. Congresswoman, told DiSanti she should call Penn State Behrend’s School of Engineering for help. The next day, DiSanti mentioned to a friend what Dahlkemper had suggested. The friend knew a Behrend engineering professor, who in turn put DiSanti in contact with Jason Williams, a lecturer in engineering. Williams thought DiSanti’s tool would make a good senior capstone project and included it on a list of thirty assignments that students could pick from at the start of the next academic year. “The brush was my first choice because I was very interested in making new products,” said Chad McDonough, then an upperlevel Plastics Engineering Technology student. “I found the whole process of turning a simple idea into a real product exciting.” McDonough jumped in, interviewing local hair stylists and compiling a list of their needs that fit the outline of DiSanti’s old brush. From the moment DiSanti met McDonough, she was impressed. “He was truly interested in my idea, and he asked great questions,” she said. “He was very enthusiastic.” McDonough worked on the tool over three semesters, spending nearly 400 hours fine-tuning the design, experimenting with various handles, testing bristles, and creating C.A.D. drawings and 3-D models.

“ It was very rewarding to work on this project with Fran, and it gave me a lot of experience that I have used and will continue to use in the plastics industry,”


“I did a little extra work with the tooling because I figured if it was easy to get tooling made, the brush had a better chance of actually being manufactured,” he said. “The final model was sent to mold builders and plastics production companies. With each price and method of production, a customer package was put together that gave DiSanti molding cost, production cost, and unit cost,” McDonough said. By the end of the academic year, DiSanti held her dream in her hand—the “Santi a pennello” brush. “Santi” is a nod to her surname and “a pennello” is Italian for “fits like a glove.” DiSanti sought Erie-area companies to manufacture the tool, choosing a mold maker in North East and a manufacturer in Girard. It was important to her that the tool be as American-made as possible. She has received nothing but positive feedback. “I’ve had people ask, ‘What’s so special about it?’ Then they try it and they understand,” she said. The Santi a pennello brush, $25, is sold at various salons in the Erie area, but DiSanti hopes soon to distribute the brush through salons in California and Florida. She has sold about 500 brushes so far. “It’s expensive when compared to brushes you can buy at the big box stores, but you can’t buy this tool there, and there is nothing else like it,” DiSanti said. “I know. I looked for thirty years.” For more information or to learn where to buy the Santi a pennello brush, email 9

Open Lab continued from page 1

success has allowed the project to blossom. Now, a half-dozen faculty members and students are working on various aspects of the project. “It started small, but it’s grown all these legs,” Rhoades said with a laugh. “None of us thought that project would grow so quickly,” Zimmerman said, “but the growth is based on performance. They’ve done some impressive work.” Jeremy Weigand, a junior Plastics Engineering Technology major who is working with Rhoades on the polymer project, said doing applied research at the undergraduate level has been a valuable experience. “I’ve learned a lot about setting realistic goals and expectations for research and development,” Weigand said. “Sometimes, things that look easy to accomplish on paper aren’t that way in practical application.” Weigand will have much more time to learn as he’s been offered a summer internship at SKF’s primary research and development facility in the Netherlands. Eye on the end product Zimmerman is quick to point out that the research and development projects that SKF Aerospace is engaged in with Behrend have timelines and objectives. “These are product-focused, application-driven projects that are expected to be realized in one to three years,” he said. The fact that many of Behrend’s engineering faculty have industry experience has been beneficial, Zimmerman said. Rhoades worked at Bayer Material Sciences before accepting a position at Behrend. “After graduate school, I could have spent my time doing sponsored research, but working in the industry gave me a whole new skill set. With the SKF project, there’s an end-user that expects regular updates and progress. It keep us all on our toes.” “The fact that the projects we are working on now have continued, and in some cases grown larger, just goes to show that we did our due diligence in choosing projects—and the people to work on them,” Zimmerman said. “Clearly, we came to the right place.” If your company is interested in partnering with Behrend, contact Amy Bridger at 10

No. 1 … Again!

The Supermileage Team took first place in the SAE International Supermileage Competition for the second year in a row! The team’s carbon-fiber test car got 1,290 miles from a single gallon of gas during the competition, which was held in June at Eaton Corporation’s test track in Marshall, Michigan. The team edged out Brigham Young University for the win. This year’s car was twenty pounds lighter. Students added a leaf-spring suspension and a rotary-valve engine. They installed a trip computer, which automatically idled the engine at 20 miles per hour. Any faster, and the car would have been less efficient. The Supermileage Team is already hard at work on this year’s vehicle.

Join the Engineering Alumni Network Stay connected with former classmates and faculty members and register for the School of Engineering Alumni Network. We like to stay in contact with former students and we’d like to invite you to participate in alumni surveys for accreditation and faculty review purposes. As an alumnus, once you register and log in, you’ll be able to view the contact information of other alumni. Nearly 400 are already registered. Visit and click on “Alumni” in the menu bar on the left.

Faculty and Staff News New Faculty and Staff

Celebrating Twenty Years of Innovation

Every graduate of the School of Engineering is required to complete a capstone design experience—an intensive, year-long, hands-on design project in which they work with a faculty adviser and industry sponsor to develop solutions to real-world challenges. Each spring, the students showcase their work at the Fasenmyer Engineering Design Conference at the Jack Burke Research and Economic Development Center. This year marked the twentieth anniversary of the conference, which is named for the late Richard J. Fasenmyer ’69, a longtime supporter of the School of Engineering. A native of Erie, Fasenmyer began his Penn State education at Behrend and earned a degree in Accounting in 1969. He subsequently founded RJF International Corp., a world leader in the manufacture and distribution of interior wall coverings, industrial matting products, and specialty films. The first alumnus to donate $1 million to the college, Fasenmyer died in 2002 at the age of 55. Three years later, the annual conference was named for him as a tribute to his legacy. On the subject of impressive alumni, this year’s keynote speaker, George Dodworth ’99, put on quite a show. Dodworth, owner of Lightwave International Inc., is an Electrical Engineering and Physics graduate who began experimenting with laser light in his residence hall at Behrend. His hobby grew into a multi-talented production house specializing in dazzling laser light shows and special effects for film, touring, corporate, and civic events. His Pittsburgh-based company is internationally known for creating the world’s largest full-color entertainment lasers. Lightwave, which has accompanied such major artists as Madonna, Rihanna, Shakira, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Katy Perry, Skrillex, and Tom Petty on multi-year tours, presented four laser demonstrations during the conference. It was a fanfare celebration befitting two decades of remarkable and innovative work by talented students in the School of Engineering. Here’s to another twenty years of industry partnerships and innovative engineering solutions.

The school welcomes eight new faculty members: Dr. Omar Ashour, assistant professor of industrial engineering; Dr. Adam Hollinger, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; Dr. Yuan-Han Huang, assistant professor of industrial engineering; Mr. Robin Panda, instructor of electrical and computer engineering; Dr. Mohammad Rasouli, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; Dr. Shraddha Sangelkar, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; Dr. Liyong Sun, assistant professor of engineering; and Dr. Zhefeng Xiao, assistant professor of computer science and software. Read more about each of them at behrend.psu. edu/engineeringnews. Kristy Bunce is the new office manager in the School of Engineering. Lynn Lewis has also joined the staff as a receptionist. Caitlyn Catalfu is the new scheduling officer for the school.

Award Recipients Three faculty and staff members were recognized with School of Engineering awards in 2013: Dr. John T. Roth, professor of mechanical engineering, Excellence in Research Award; Stacey McCoy, administrative support assistant, Excellence in Service Award; and Lucy Lenhardt, plastics lab research assistant, Excellence in Outreach Award.

School Leadership Dr. Xiaocong Fan was promoted to associate professor of computer science and software engineering.

Silver Service Anniversaries Three faculty and staff members celebrated twenty-five years of service: David Forsman, lecturer in engineering; David Loker, chair of electrical and computer engineering technology and associate professor of engineering; and Sherry Cooley-Johnson, administrative support assistant.


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

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SIGN OF EXCELLENCE: A monument signifying Penn State Behrend as an official chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society, has been installed on Technology Drive near the Burke parking ramp. It is a watch key in the shape of the bent of a trestle, the load-bearing part of a bridge, meant to represent Tau Beta Pi’s principles of integrity and excellence in engineering.

Alumnus’ $1.1 Million Gift Creates New Scholarships We’d love to ask Frank S. Palkovic ’68 why he chose to leave his estate, worth more than $1 million, to Penn State Behrend’s School of Engineering, but his gift was a surprise, bequeathed to the college after his October 2012 death. Palkovic earned an associate degree in Drafting Design and Technology at Penn State Behrend. He went on to earn a bachelor of science in Engineering at Penn State Harrisburg, and worked as a civil engineer for Consoer Townsend Envirodyne Engineers in Erie before retiring to Florida.

His gift will provide more than fifty new trustee scholarships for engineering students every year. “Trustee scholarships are awarded to students who have the highest financial need,” said Ralph Ford, director of the School of Engineering and associate dean for industry and external relations. “We are grateful to Mr. Palkovic for his generosity, which will make an engineering education accessible for many qualified students.” While we can’t ask Palkovic for a quote, his final gift speaks volumes.

His gift will provide more than fifty new trustee scholarships for engineering students every year.

Frank S. Palkovic ’68


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 14-108

Engineering News - 2014  

News from Penn State Behrend's School of Engineering

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