Rice Engineering Magazine 2019

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Ashwin Varma of Rice University’s Center for Transforming Data-to-Knowledge (D2K) presents findings to Houston City Council’s Public Safety Committee. See the full story on page 41.



s dean I’m privileged to have a front-row seat to all the tremendous research in our centers, institutes and research teams. Just when I think I’ve seen our most impressive work, an even more astonishing breakthrough happens on campus. I’m particularly excited to welcome our nine new faculty to Rice Engineering. They bring new skills and research areas, including neuroengineering, synthetic biology, optimization, tissue engineering and energy.

In this edition of Rice Engineering Magazine, we take an in-depth look at one of the most interesting areas of research at Rice, artificial intelligence (AI). Our research teams are working on areas such as automata reasoning, deep learning, optimization and large-scale machine learning, network analytics and quantum computing. The applications for AI are endless: autonomous vehicles such as drones and self-driving cars, medical diagnosis, image recognition in photographs, spam filtering and even prediction of judicial decisions. Across all departments, our faculty and students are leading their fields and transforming industry. In this issue you’ll read how digitalization can help increase the efficiency of energy production, how our bioengineers are moving closer to 3D-printing replacement organs and how one of our research teams has devised strategies that enable networks to accelerate and optimize the transmission of large data sets. The research happening in our nine departments and 22 institutes and centers is as cutting edge as any in the world. Our faculty continues to transition their innovative research from the lab to society.

One example is the innovative work from Professor Naomi Halas on the use of gold nanoparticles to treat prostate cancer with fewer side effects. This work will transform the way we treat one of the most common forms of cancer. Another priority of Rice Engineering is to continue focusing our efforts on diversity and inclusion in engineering. The recent $2.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation is the first of its kind focused on diversifying the professoriate, with an emphasis on data science and data engineering – industries that have struggled with diversity. Our undergraduates continue to amaze me – in the classroom, the lab and out there in the community. Just this spring, an incredible team of students in the Data to Knowledge Lab worked with the Houston Fire Department to develop an improved vehicle allocation model. I’m also proud to say that Rice Engineering is continuing to grow. The 2019 graduating class was the largest undergraduate class in the history of the school, with 392 engineering students receiving 409 degrees awarded. Some 40 percent of the 1,000 students receiving degrees at Rice University in academic year 2018-19 were from the School of Engineering. The number of Rice engineering graduates has grown more than 120 percent in the last 10 years! It has never been a more exciting time to be an engineer at Rice.

Reginald DesRoches William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Engineering


Rice Engineering Magazine is a production of the George R. Brown School of Engineering Office of Communications at Rice University. Dean Reginald DesRoches Associate Deans Gang Bao Yvette E. Pearson Renata Ramos Rob Griffin Editor Carl Apple Writers Patrick Kurp Wendy Cederberg Mike Williams Jade Boyd Graphic Design Donald Soward Photography Jeff Fitlow Tommy Lavergne An Le Brandon Martin Amanda Prestia Donald Soward Hurricane Harvey photo: Tim Jester Offshore Oil Rig photo: Clyde Thomas, Cape Town

CONTENTS 6 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 32 34 36 38 40 41 42 44 46 48 55

News Rice Engineering in the media New faculty OEDK @ 10 years State of the School Still recovering from Hurricane Harvey Organ bioprinting gets a breath of fresh air Rice team leads $18M DARPA project Rice statisticians work with Shell to improve oil drilling The Digital Rock project AI: No longer science fiction From cars to spacecraft: Making them stronger and lighter Making light work of computing Developing tools to handle big data ‘Defective’ sponges soak up more pollutants Art is what you mech it Student team uses big data to improve HFD response times Innovative and unstoppable Weaving the magic of make-believe J.D. Hellums Memorial Fund Rice Engineering Alumni annual report Who is George R. Brown?

Send comments or letters to the editor: Rice Engineering Magazine Rice University MS 364 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, Texas 77251 or email: engrnews@rice.edu RICE ENGINEERING 5

NEWS Richards-Kortum inducted into National Inventors Hall of Fame Global health pioneer Rebecca Richards-Kortum, a Rice University bioengineering professor whose work has improved medical care for millions of newborn babies and saved lives in low-income countries, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in May. Richards-Kortum, who joined Rice in 2005, develops inexpensive but effective medical technologies for people living in places where traditional medical equipment is not an option. She’s pioneered the development of low-cost inventions that detect cancer and help newborn babies survive in Africa.

Rebecca Richards-Kortum

Richards-Kortum’s work has led to the creation of optical technologies that have improved early detection of cervical, oral and esophageal cancer as well as a number of tools to improve infant survival rates. These inventions include the Pumani CPAP system for newborns with breathing problems and BiliSpec for measuring bilirubin levels to detect jaundice. Richards-Kortum is Rice’s Malcolm Gillis University Professor, professor of bioengineering and director of the Rice 360º Institute for Global Health. She was selected by the State Department as a U.S. Science Envoy in June and is a member of the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineers.

Kavraki inducted into the Academy of Athens Lydia Kavraki, the Noah Harding Professor of Computer Science, professor of bioengineering, electrical and computer engineering and mechanical engineering, has been elected as a Corresponding Member of the Academy of Athens, the premier scientific society in Greece and the world’s oldest academy. She was inducted in a ceremony at the Academy of Athens’ Hall. Established in 1926, the Academy of Athens is the modern continuation of the ancient Academy of Plato. The Academy promotes “the cultivation and advancement of the sciences, humanities and fine arts.” Kavraki was recognized for her contributions to robotics and biomedical informatics. She has developed motion-planning algorithms that enabled, for the first time, the efficient computation of paths for robots with articulated manipulators. With colleagues at Rice she is now working on task and motion planning in the context of collaborative robotics, enabling robots to work with and in support of people.


Lydia Kavraki

Her team is working with the NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to augment the capabilities of robots for space missions. By drawing an analogy between articulated robots and proteins, Kavraki developed robotics-inspired methodologies for computational structural biology and translational bioinformatics. She also collaborates with researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Baylor College of Medicine. Kavraki leads one of the fourteen nationwide training grants of the National Library of Medicine. She has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine.

Computer scientist Vardi named University Professor World-renowned computer scientist Moshe Vardi has been promoted to University Professor, Rice’s highest academic title. Vardi, the Karen Ostrum George Distinguished Service Professor in Computational Engineering, is the eighth person named University Professor in Rice’s 107-year history. The title of University Professor is an appointment-at-large that enables the faculty member to teach in any academic department and share expertise across disciplines to foster greater intellectual pursuits at Rice. Vardi, who joined Rice’s faculty in 1993, is being recognized for tremendous service and leadership demonstrated at all levels, from the department to across the university, said Luay Nakhleh, chair of the Department of Computer Science. “With this recognition we are reminded once again of the high standards that Moshe sets to all of us, not only in terms of technical and scholarly leadership but also in terms of going above and beyond in contributing to the computing community at large,” Nakhleh said. “I would also say that with his recent focus on the future of work and the societal impact of technology, Moshe’s contributions extend way past the computing community.” A prolific author, Vardi has penned more than 600 articles and co-written two books in the areas of logic and computation. His promotion coincides with another milestone: Vardi’s h-index, a metric that measures a scientist’s productivity and citation impact, is 103, which means he has published 103 papers that have been cited at least 103 times by other research papers. Vardi is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received IBM Outstanding Innovation Awards, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Presidential Award and ACM’s Edgar F. Codd Innovations Award, a top recognition for database-research accomplishments.

Computer Science offering online master’s degree Rice University now offers a unique Master of Computer Science Online Program. The program run by Rice’s Department of Computer Science, ranked as one of the nation’s top 20 by U.S. News & World Report, offers professionals a Rice degree that will enhance their current careers or help them pivot to new ones. The program will offer Rice’s world-class education in a flexible, online format so that working adults will be able to complete the degree with small class sizes that can be customized to the needs of working professionals.

Moshe Vardi

director Scott Rixner, a Rice professor of computer science. “Taking what we have learned from almost a decade of teaching online courses, we’ve designed a program that gives every student an effective and engaging learning experience.” Professionals who gain advanced training in computer science will in turn help advance Houston industries. By reaching new audiences, the department intends to strengthen ties with the city and help build a more technologically adept workforce. Learn more about the Master of Computer Science Online Program or apply at cs.rice.edu/onlinemcs.

“There are other online computer science programs, but none I’ve encountered incorporates the level of personal interaction we are offering our students,” said program RICE ENGINEERING 7

NEWS Halas honored by the Royal Society of Chemistry

Naomi Halas, the Stanley C. Moore Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and founding director of the Laboratory for Nanophotonics at Rice, has been named a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). To be eligible for RSC fellowship, a nominee must have made “a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science.” In February, the RSC honored Halas with the 2019 Spiers Memorial Award during its Faraday Discussion meeting in London, recognizing her “pioneering research at the intersection of optics and nanoscience and the demonstration of optical property manipulation by nanoparticle geometry.” Founded in 1848, the RSC is a 54,000-member professional organization with some 1,600 fellows and foreign members, including about 80 Nobel laureates. Each year up to 52 fellows and 10 foreign members are elected from a pool of 700 candidates who must be nominated by two current fellows. As a pioneer in the development of light-activated nanoparticles, Halas is the first Rice faculty member to be elected to both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering for research done at Rice. Her discoveries have diverse applications in cancer treatment, optoelectronics, photocatalysis, chemical sensing, solar-powered distillation and steam production, and off-grid water treatment.

Naomi Halas

Halas has joint appointments at Rice in the departments of chemistry, bioengineering, physics and astronomy and materials science and nanoengineering, and is director of the Smalley-Curl Institute.

Senior associate dean retires after 50 years at Rice More than 120 people gathered May 7 at the Cohen House to honor retiring Senior Associate Dean of Engineering Bart Sinclair ’73, who has studied, taught or worked at Rice since enrolling as a freshman in 1969.

He was the inaugural recipient of the Rice Engineering Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Medal in 2012 and is a two-time recipient of distinguished faculty associate honors from Brown College.

“Rice is a beautiful campus. It’s got a wonderful reputation. I love the location. But it all comes down to the people that I leave here,” said Sinclair. “And that’s the students, staff, faculty and administration. It has been a joyful ride.”

Sinclair was dedicated to meeting with prospective students and their families, conducting information sessions for more than 6,200 prospective engineering students at the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen.

Sinclair earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering in 1973, 1974 and 1979, respectively. He joined the electrical engineering faculty in 1978 and served as associate dean for 20 years, handling responsibilities that have included finance, operations, planning, academic affairs and faculty recruitment.

Rice president David Leebron said Sinclair’s dedication and service define and embody the Rice spirit.

Rice’s Board of Trustees twice honored Sinclair’s service, first in 2007 and with its 2017 Distinguished Service Award.


“At the end of the day, there just aren’t words that can express our appreciation for your contribution,” Leebron said. “On behalf of the entire university, past, present and future, I want to express our enormous appreciation and recognition that this university would not be what it is today without you.”

Grant to help boost minorities in academia Rice University, Texas Southern University and the University of Houston have won a multimillion-dollar grant to help increase the number of underrepresented minorities pursuing academic careers in engineering and science. The National Science Foundation grant for $2.66 million over five years is part of its Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program, which seeks to “advance knowledge about models to improve pathways to the professoriate and success” for historically underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and math. The award is specifically for those in data engineering and data science. It will fund a project to be called AGEP STRIDES (Strengthening Training and Resources for Inclusion in Data Engineering and Sciences). The universities expect AGEP will enhance tech companies’ bottom lines as newly minted academics develop the diverse workforce of the future. “We can’t overstate how important and timely this project is,” said the grant’s principal investigator, Reginald DesRoches, the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Rice’s Brown School of Engineering and a professor of civil and environmental engineering and of mechanical engineering. “We are at a unique time when the economy is dominated by companies in the computational and data science domain. At the same time, we know these industries remain among the least diverse.” DesRoches noted Rice’s development of The Ion innovation and technology district that gives Houston, one of the nation’s most diverse cities, a unique conduit for diversification in burgeoning high-tech fields. “Although the grant is focused on getting more underrepresented minority Ph.D. and postdoctoral fellows into academia, this will have a direct impact on diverse undergraduates pursuing degrees in the data engineering and data science fields,” he said. “What’s most exciting is that our efforts will extend far beyond scholar development,” said Yvette Pearson, associate dean for accreditation, assessment and strategic initiatives at the Brown School and co-investigator with Hamadi Rifai, Wei Wayne Li, Ashwin Sharma and Rice postdoctoral researcher Canek Phillips. “Will we equip scholars with the tools they’ll need to succeed in academia? Absolutely! Beyond that, our primary focus is learning about systemic barriers that impede their success and developing, implementing, studying and propagating solutions to overcome those barriers.” Pearson said the project will create opportunities for researchers to engage with each other across campuses, provide existing faculty with guidance on mentoring inclusive research teams and hold quarterly training programs to prepare future faculty members to lead research teams and centers and to further the impacts of their research through entrepreneurship.

Bart Sinclair

A major component of the project is a research investigation to identify factors that help and hinder underrepresented minorities as they apply for faculty positions.


IN THE MEDIA “It is critically important that people of color hold faculty positions because they will, in turn, attract more students of color to study engineering.” Brown School of Engineering Dean Reginald DesRoches on the need for more engineering faculty in higher education from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Houston Chronicle January 29, 2019

“There is general recognition of a reproducibility crisis in science right now. I would venture to argue that a huge part of that does come from the use of machine learning techniques in science.” Genevera Allen, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, provides her thoughts on what could be misleading machine-learning techniques used by thousands of scientists to analyze data. BBC News February 16, 2019

“Even though it’s smaller than a penny, it’s actually more than ten times too big to mimic what we see inside of the human body.” Assistant Professor of Bioengineering Jordan Miller discussing the path to 3D printing replacement organs with a breakthrough technique for bioprinting tissues. Houston Public Media June 4, 2019 10 RICE ENGINEERING

“Once the barrier to entry is low enough, hopefully one of the vendors will go for it, and that will bring the rest of them in quickly enough.” Professor of Computer Science Dan Wallach commenting on how fast election system vendors might adopt new Microsoft software that the company hopes will make voting more secure. CBS News May 7, 2019

“It is unlikely Internet companies will abandon this lucrative business model because of some ethical qualms.” Moshe Vardi, University Professor and the Karen Ostrum George Distinguished Service Professor in Computational Engineering, is interviewed about how public policy should regulate digital technology concerns. Houston Public Media January 18, 2019

“Just because cars are getting cleaner does not mean we should not regulate the dirtiest cars and trucks on the road. It is the same thing with coal-burning plants like Parish. Sure, they are cleaner than they used to be. But they are still not clean enough.” Daniel Cohan, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, on the effects of President Donald Trump’s environmental policies. The New York Times December 27, 2018



Nine new faculty members in five departments join the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice.

Chong Xie, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE), earned his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Stanford University in 2011, and served as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard. Since 2014 he has been an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on the use of nanomaterials in biomedical applications, and in applying advanced nanoelectronic devices to various neural systems. He joins the Rice faculty on January 1, 2020 as part of the Rice NeuroEngineering Initiative.

Joey Huchette, assistant professor of computational and applied mathematics (CAAM), earned his B.A. in CAAM from Rice in 2013 and his Ph.D. in operations research from MIT in 2018. He spent the following year as a postdoctoral researcher with Google Research. His work focuses on developing algorithms and software for mathematical optimization, with an emphasis on integer programming. He joined the Rice faculty July 1.

Peter Lillehoj, associate professor of mechanical engineering (MECH), earned his Ph.D. in MECH from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2011. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA until 2012 when he became an associate professor of MECH at Michigan State University. His research focuses on development of microsystems for current and emerging applications in disease diagnosis, health monitoring, biosecurity and food/water safety. He joins the Rice faculty on January 1, 2020.

Jiaozhi (George) Lu, an NIH Pathway to Independence postdoctoral fellow at Caltech, will join the bioengineering department (BIOE) as an assistant professor in January. Lu earned his Ph.D. in chemistry and biochemistry in 2014 from the University of California at San Diego. His research combines protein biochemistry, synthetic biology and magnetic resonance imaging. Lu is a CPRIT (Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas) scholar.


Lan Luan joined the Rice faculty as an assistant professor of ECE on Oct. 1 as part of the Rice NeuroEngineering Initiative. She was a research assistant professor in biomedical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. She earned her Ph.D. in physics from Stanford in 2011, followed by three years at Harvard University as a postdoctoral fellow in physics. Her research focuses on developing a neural interface that combines recording, imaging, and stimulation, with applications in neuroscience and disease modeling.

Kevin J. McHugh, assistant professor of BIOE and a CPRIT scholar, earned his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Boston University in 2014. He then served as a senior postdoctoral associate in the Langer Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His main research interest is development of biomaterial microdevices for drug delivery and tissue engineering. He joined the Rice faculty on July 1.

Daniel Preston, assistant professor of MECH, earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in MECH from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2014 and 2017, respectively. For the following two years he trained as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. His Preston Innovation Laboratory conducts interdisciplinary research at the intersection of energy, materials and fluids. He joined the Rice faculty on July 1.

Jerzy Szablowski, assistant professor of BIOE and ECE, earned his Ph.D. in bioengineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 2015. Since then he has served as a postdoctoral researcher in chemical engineering at Caltech. His research focuses on controlling living cells within deep tissues through ultrasound-mediated delivery and biomolecular engineering. His lab is the Laboratory for Noninvasive Neuroengineering. Szablowski will join the Rice faculty in January 2020 as part of the Rice NeuroEngineering Initiative.

Vicky Yao, assistant professor of computer science (CS), earned her Ph.D. in CS from Princeton University in 2018, and has since worked as a postdoctoral research associate in the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton. Her research focuses on developing machine learning and statistical methods for improving the understanding of the molecular roots of such diseases as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and rheumatoid arthritis. She joined the faculty July 1 as a CPRIT scholar.


Hundreds of Rice students, faculty, staff and friends came out for the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen’s 10th anniversary bash on Feb. 22. The two-stage event began with a gathering of the facility’s backers at the OEDK and moved to the North Lot for a public party featuring food and drink, and an engineering art competition. Rice President David Leebron, speaking at the early event, said of the return on investment on money the university has spent over the last 10 years, “Nowhere has it been better than where we are standing right now.” “Already, people at universities were thinking about this kind of education and they’d put the stamp, ‘the design kitchen,’ on it,” said Maria Oden, the OEDK’s director. “We were at the front edge of what has become a movement.” The world’s first design kitchen was established in a building that was literally Rice’s campus kitchen, before separate serveries fed the residential colleges. The OEDK anniversary party was held during National Engineers Week. Oden, who is also a full teaching professor of bioengineering at Rice, has overseen two expansions of the program that eventually took over the building’s entire footprint, with a third ambitious expansion in the works.


Her guidance has been key to the development of a place where students — most from engineering, but also from every other school on campus — come together to innovate. More than 1,000 student teams have worked in the OEDK on senior engineering capstone and other projects. Credit Sallie Keller, the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering from 2005 to 2010, for coining the term “design kitchen” and leading the charge to create it. Keller, now director of the Social and Decision Analytics Division in the Biocomplexity Institute and Initiative at the University of Virginia, had already toured the offices and labs in her new domain and saw senior design teams crammed into every available space. Engineering raised enough money to start the transformation, primarily from lead donors Ken ’62 and Barbara Oshman, and Jim Truchard and his company, National Instruments. The Oshmans’ naming gift of $2.4 million came a short time later, as well as a gift from Kathleen Kapetanovic and Alexander Down to give the building its “green” roof, a critical component in making it the first Rice structure to achieve LEED Gold certification for efficient energy and environmental design.

Drill Team Six wins Engineering Design Showcase

Drill Team Six won the top prize in the George R. Brown Engineering Design Showcase and Poster Competition held April 11 at Rice University’s Tudor Fieldhouse. The Excellence in Engineering Award includes a prize of $5,000. The team, which includes Hannah Jackson, Takanori Iida, Will Yarinsky, Babs Ogunbanwo, Ian Frankel and Byunguk Kang, has created a device to simplify the placement of screws that secure metal rods to fractured bones in limbs. The process could cut the time, effort and number of X-rays necessary to complete the procedure. “I don’t think any of us were really expecting it, so it’s an incredibly pleasant surprise,” said team member Ian Frankel. “A lot of hard work is paying off right now.”

2019 WINNERS: BuoyBOTS Willy Revolution Award for Outstanding Innovation ($3,500) Take a Breather Willy Revolution Award for Outstanding Innovation ($1,500) UV Chamber Willy Revolution Award for Outstanding Innovation ($500) M&M Excellence in Capstone Engineering Design Award ($1,000) EasyScope Excellence in Capstone Engineering Design Award ($1,000) OxyMon Excellence in Independent, Multi-year or Club Engineering Design Award ($1,000) EquestriCAN Excellence in Freshman Engineering Design Award ($1,000) Take A Breather Best Interdisciplinary Engineering Design Award ($750) PIONEER Best Conceptual or Computational Modeling Engineering Design Award ($500) Clean Machine Best Technology for Low-Resource Settings Design Award ($500) M&M and Crossing Streams Best Energy-Related Engineering Design Award ($500) Mechatron Best Robotic Technology Award ($500) Lapras Best Medical Technology Award ($500) Flood Best Environment and Sustainability Engineering Design Award ($500) Vignette Best Gaming, Creative or Innovative Technology Award ($500) Club Rice Eclipse-Luna Best Aerospace or Transportation Technology Award ($500) Biofuels Production Group People’s Choice Award ($500)




TOP 10 EMPLOYERS AIG Airbnb Epic Facebook Google IBM JP Morgan Chase Microsoft Samsung Schlumberger


2019 ENGINEERING ADVISORY BOARD Elle Anderson ‘00 (CEE) Owner and founder of Grounds Anderson, LLC

Hunter Armistead ‘90 (ECE) Executive Vice President of Business Development for Pattern Energy Group, Inc.

Mohit Aron ’98 ’00 (CS) CEO and Founder of Cohesity

Mark Dankberg ’77 (ECE) Co-founder, Chairman of the Board, President & CEO of ViaSat Inc.


$61-80K 40%








Jagdish Desai Current partner/investor in Enemtech Capital

Mark Durcan ’83 ’84 (ChBE) Retired CEO of Micron Technology, and was previously CEO from 2012 until his retirement in May 2017

Wanda K. Gass ’78 (ECE)


Founder and President of Design Connect Create

Wendy Hoenig ’86 (MSNE) President and CEO of H&H Business Development

Tommy Huie ’87 (ECE) Chief Investment Officer for the U.S. offices of BMO Global Asset Management

John Jaggers ’73 (ECE) Managing General Partner at Sevin Rosen Funds’ Dallas headquarters

Alex Kazim ’88 (MECH) CEO of FuelX

Martin Martucci ’85 (ECE) Interventional Pain Specialist at Tulsa Pain Consultants

Cassandra McZeal ’98 (CAAM) Computational Sciences Function Manager for ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company

Mark Menke ’77 (ChBE) General Manager of Chevron’s mergers and acquisitions group

Sunit Patel ’85 (ChBE)

TOP 10 GRAD SCHOOLS Carnegie Mellon University Columbia University Cornell University MIT Rice University Stanford University The University of Texas at Austin University of California, Berkeley University of Michigan University of Pennsylvania

Executive Vice President, Merger and Integration Lead of T-Mobile

Tom Pellette ’86 (MECH) President of Solar Turbines

Matt Prucka ’84 (ECE) Founder of Prucka Engineering, Inc.

Dr. John Treichler ‘69 (ECE) President of Raytheon Applied Signal Technology

Charlos Ward ’98 ’06 (ChBE) Project General Manager, BP America, Inc.



or Philip B. Bedient and 7 million fellow residents of greater Houston, Hurricane Harvey, probably the most damaging storm in U.S. history, is personal.

“Nobody was ready for it. I live in Sugar Land and was lucky not to have any damage personally, nothing like what many other people had. People are still dealing with the extreme after effects,” said Bedient, the Herman Brown Professor of Engineering in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25, 2017, and dropped 36 to 44 inches of rain over a 2,500-square-mile area. According to the Harris County Flood Control District, Harvey caused $125 billion in damage, flooded 154,170 homes and thousands of businesses, and claimed more than 100 lives. “Unfortunately, the area hasn’t really rebuilt much since Harvey, except that a lot of homes have been repaired or elevated. Some of us haven’t learned our lesson. We’ve studied things to death, but not a lot has changed,” said Bedient, founding director of the Center for Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED). After Hurricane Ike in 2008, the SSPEED Center initiated research into ways of better preparing and defending Houston and Galveston from storm surge and flooding.


Phil Bedient, Toby Li, Morgan Garner, Matt Garcia, Meera Gadit



Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25, 2017, and dropped 36 to 44 inches of rain over a 2,500-squaremile area. According to the Harris County Flood Control District, Harvey caused some $125 billion in damage, flooded 154,170 homes and thousands of businesses, and claimed more than 100 lives.

Bedient and his colleagues have spent the last two years studying Harvey and its impact on greater Houston. Especially hard hit was the far western portion of the region, including the Katy Prairie area and the watersheds of Addicks, Barker and Upper Cypress Creek, where tens of thousands of homes flooded. Bedient’s report on this area recommended building more storage capacity in, among other places, upper Cypress Creek, to reduce flooding potential for the Addicks and Barker watersheds. The additional storage could also help mitigate flooding from Buffalo Bayou. Many of the region’s bayous during Harvey swelled five to 10 feet over their banks. “We’re looking at every possible combination of local and regional mitigation, including detention, levee and pump storage, selected buyouts and relocations, and selected channelization. We’re using advanced hydrologic and 2-D hydraulic models to understand the Harvey event that devastated the area,” Bedient said.

Among the Harvey success stories was the ongoing Rice University and Texas Medical Center Flood Alert System (TMC-FAS4), which uses NEXRAD (Next Generation Weather Radar) to provide real-time flood information. The system, periodically updated, was designed by Bedient and other researchers. For more than 20 years, FAS4 has monitored the Brays Bayou watershed, and major infrastructure changes helped prevent flooding in the TMC during Harvey. In 2018, the NOAA Atlas 14 redefined the amount of rainfall it takes to qualify as 100-year or 500-year events. For Houston, 100-year estimates increased from 13 to 18 inches, equivalent to the old 500-year event. Many projects will have to use the new design level. “There are differences between before and after Harvey. There’s definitely a more active spirit since Harvey hit, but there’s still a lot to do. We need to get the development community to understand the need for resilient policies regarding flooding, and that won’t be easy,” Bedient said.



ORGAN BIOPRINTING GETS A BREATH OF FRESH AIR Bioengineers are moving closer to 3D-printing replacement organs with a breakthrough technique for bioprinting human tissue. 20 RICE ENGINEERING



he innovation permits scientists to create complex vascular networks that mimic the body’s natural passageways for blood, air, lymph and other fluids.

The research was featured on the cover of the May 3 issue of the journal Science. It includes an eye-catching proof-of-principle -- a hydrogel model of a lung-mimicking air sac in which airways deliver oxygen to surrounding blood vessels. Also reported are experiments to implant bioprinted constructs containing liver cells into mice. The work was led by bioengineers Jordan Miller of Rice and Kelly Stevens of the University of Washington (UW), and included 15 collaborators from Rice, UW, Duke University, Rowan University and Nervous System, a design firm in Somerville, Massachusetts. “One of the biggest roadblocks to generating functional tissue replacements has been our inability to print the complex vasculature that can supply nutrients to densely populated tissues,” said Miller, assistant professor of bioengineering at Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering. “Further, our organs actually contain independent vascular networks -- like the airways and blood vessels of the lung or the bile ducts and blood vessels in the liver.” Stevens, assistant professor of bioengineering in the UW College of Engineering, assistant professor of pathology in the UW School of Medicine, and an investigator at the UW Medicine Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, said multivascularization is important because form and function often go hand in hand. “Tissue engineering has struggled with this for a generation,” Stevens said. “With this work we can now better ask, ‘If we can print tissues that look and now even breathe more like the healthy tissues in our bodies, will they also then functionally behave more like those tissues?’ This is an important question, because how well a bioprinted tissue functions will affect how successful it will be as a therapy.”

Bagrat Grigoryan, Jordan Miller, Daniel W. Sazer

The goal of bioprinting healthy, functional organs is driven by the need for organ transplants. More than 100,000 people are on transplant waiting lists in the United States alone, and those who do eventually receive donor organs still face a lifetime of immune-suppressing drugs to prevent organ rejection. Bioprinting has attracted intense interest over the past decade because it could theoretically address both problems by allowing doctors to print replacement organs from a patient’s own cells. A ready supply of functional organs could one day be deployed to treat millions of patients worldwide. “We envision bioprinting becoming a major component of medicine within the next two decades,” Miller said. To address this challenge, the team created a new open-source bioprinting technology dubbed the “stereolithography apparatus for tissue engineering,” or SLATE. The system uses additive manufacturing to make soft hydrogels one layer at a time. Layers are printed from a liquid pre-hydrogel solution that becomes a solid when exposed to blue light. A digital light processing projector shines light from below, displaying sequential 2D slices of the structure at high resolution, with pixel sizes ranging from 10 to 50 microns. RICE ENGINEERING 21


Charles Sebesta, Josh Chen, Jacob Robinson, Amanda Singer, Guillaume Duret Ashok Veeraraghavan, Jacob Robinson, Caleb Kemere



Rice University-led team of neuroengineers has launched an ambitious four-year project to develop headset technology that can directly link the human brain and machines without the need for surgery. As a proof of concept, the team plans to transmit visual images perceived by one individual into the minds of blind patients.

“In four years we hope to demonstrate direct, brain-to-brain communication at the speed of thought and without brain surgery,” said Rice’s Jacob Robinson, the lead investigator on the $18 million project, part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3) program. Sharing visual images between two brains sounds like science fiction, but Robinson said recent technological breakthroughs make the idea feasible. Just how feasible is the question DARPA hopes to address with a series of N3 awards to the Rice-led team and five others that have proposed different technological solutions for the broader challenge of connecting brains and machines. “Speed is key,” said Robinson, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and of bioengineering in Rice’s Brown School of Engineering. “We have to decode neural activity in one person’s visual cortex and recreate it in another person’s mind in less than one-twentieth of a second. The technology to do that, without surgery, doesn’t yet exist. That’s what we’ll be creating.” All the N3 teams plan to use some combination of light, ultrasound or electromagnetic energy to read and write brain activity. Rice’s “magnetic, optical and acoustic neural access device,” or MOANA, will test techniques that employ all three.


The MOANA team includes 15 co-investigators from Rice, Baylor College of Medicine, the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital, Duke University, Columbia University and Yale’s John B. Pierce Laboratory. Robinson said the N3-funded teams have different strategies for dealing with the 50-millisecond latency threshold and DARPA’s requirements for spatial resolution. The agency seeks devices that can read from and write to a minimum of 16 locations in a volume of the brain about the size of a pea. Robinson said MOANA’s decoding and encoding technologies will employ viral vector gene delivery, a technology that’s in clinical trials for treating macular degeneration, some cancers and neurological conditions. Genetic payloads, which differ for decoding and encoding, will be delivered with the help of ultrasound to select groups of neurons in the 16 target areas of the brain. To “read” neural activity, the MOANA team will reprogram neurons to make synthetic proteins called “calcium-dependent indicators” that are designed to absorb light when a neuron is active, or firing. Rice co-investigator Ashok Veeraraghavan said red and infrared wavelengths of light can penetrate the skull, and MOANA’s device will utilize this. The optical subsystem will consist of light emitters and detectors that are arrayed around the target area on a skull cap.

Yongyi Zhao, Ankit Raghuram, Akshat Dave


“We have to decode neural activity in one person’s visual cortex and re-create it in another person’s mind in less than one-twentieth of a second.”

—Jacob Robinson

Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Bioengineering


Neil Panchal, deep learning lead for the Data Science Center of Excellence at Shell, working with the team in the Rice Visualization Lab.

Dan Kowal

“In the past, the sensor readings we got were very noisy and very erratic. They weren’t reliable. We want to clean them up and make the information more dependable.” —Daniel Kowal

Assistant Professor, Statistics 24 RICE ENGINEERING

Standing left to right: Eric Kook, Marina Vannucci, Yinsen Miao Seated left to right: Neil Panchal, Cheng-Han Yu

RICE STATISTICIANS WORK WITH SHELL TO IMPROVE OIL DRILLING Think of geosteering as a drill with brains. Rather than drilling an unvaryingly vertical borehole into the Earth, in hopes of hitting oil, petroleum companies can now adjust the drill’s direction in real time based on geological logging measurements. The drill can even bore horizontally when seeking a “pay zone” – oil-speak for a deposit. The process relies on accurate data analysis. “We can drill more accurately and take less time, and time is money in this business. We can log while drilling, and the people at Rice are helping us make that possible,” said Neilkunal Panchal, deep learning lead for the Data Science Center of Excellence at Shell. Panchal is working with a team from Rice University, Purdue University and Shell to streamline geosteering with machine-learning algorithms. “In the past, the sensor readings we got were very noisy and very erratic. They weren’t reliable. We want to clean them up and make the information more dependable,” said Daniel Kowal, assistant professor of statistics (STAT). “Oil companies routinely collect large sensors and drilling mechanical datasets from the rigs around the world. Many statistical explorations remain to be done, and some of them are crucial to make safe and smart decisions while drilling,” said Marina Vannucci, Noah Harding Professor of STAT. Other members of the research group include Yinsen Miao, a fourth-year graduate student in STAT at Rice, whose internship at Shell brought the team together; Faming Liang, professor of STAT at Purdue University; and Mingqi Wu and Jeremy Vila with Shell.


“Human-based data processing and interpretation are easily affected by individual opinions and prone to various errors. Therefore, statistical machine learning algorithms are needed to avoid the individual variances and standardize the geosteering process,” Vannucci said. At the start of their two-year industry/academia project, the research group devised a Bayesian machine learning approach based on state-space modeling. The group’s article, “Stochastic Clustering and Pattern Matching for Real Time Geosteering,” was published in the journal Geophysics. They have tested the accuracy of the methods they developed on real drilling data and investigated other non-linear state-space model solutions. They will test the models using a Python-based multi-thread GUI (graphical user interface) simulation software. Shell will eventually test the result at their fields in West Texas, Argentina and Canada. “Many projects don’t reach this state of effectiveness. The results we’ve seen are very promising. The algorithms we have developed at Rice are working. We’re happy,” Panchal said. RICE ENGINEERING 25

THE DIGITAL ROCK PROJECT It sounds like a musical genre but Digital Rock has more to do with oil and gas than guitars and drums.

Béatrice Rivière

“The use of Digital Rock technology is part of the digitalization movement in the oil and gas industry. Digitalization helps increase the efficiency of energy production at a reduced carbon footprint,” said Béatrice Rivière, the Noah Harding Chair and Professor of Computational and Applied Mathematics. Digital Rock is a process that involves scanning rock samples at the micro-meter scale, followed by 3D image reconstruction of their pore structure and the numerical modeling of multiphase flows in the set of connected pores. In other words, a sharper and more detailed picture of what’s going on underground.

Walter Chapman

The simulator developed by COMP-M shows the displacement of one phase through the porous structure of Berea sandstone. The interface between the two phases is in green; the injected phase is in red and the resident phase in transparent blue. Because of capillary forces, snap-off (creation of separate droplets away from the invading phase) occurs when the injected phase goes into some pore throats.


For the last five years, Rivière has served as principal investigator for a three-university research project with Shell Global Solutions International. Her Rice collaborator is Walter Chapman, the William W. Akers Chair Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. “Walter is a specialist in thermodynamics. He works at the nano-molecular scale. Our collaboration is good because we bring specialized knowledge to the project,” she said.

“Digital Rock is different from seismic imaging, which is driven by the quantity of data. With Digital Rock, we can obtain faster insight into the rock-fluid interactions traditionally done with time-consuming and expensive lab experiments.”

—Béatrice Rivière

Noah Harding Chair and Professor of Computational and Applied Mathematics

“Our goal is to revolutionize the way reservoirs are characterized and how oil and gas recovery processes are designed,” said Rivière, whose research group, Computational Optimization and Modeling of Porous Media (COMP-M), includes six doctoral students and two postdoctoral researchers. Her team has written a parallel software in C++ that simulates a two-phase flow in the 3D porous structure captured by the micro-CT scanning of the rock. “We are able to add complexity to the models we make for Shell. They provide us with the data. For modeling, what they want is more detail, which helps them save money and save time,” Rivière said. Rice’s academic partners in the Shell project are Cambridge University and Imperial College London. Shell supports 50 high-performance-computing applications around the world.

Roughly three-quarters of them involve seismic imaging, but a growing number of the rest are Digital Rock modeling. “Digital Rock is different from seismic imaging, which is driven by the quantity of data. With Digital Rock, we can obtain faster insight into the rock-fluid interactions traditionally done with time-consuming and expensive lab experiments. We can’t replace completely the lab experiments. The objective is to work together with lab scientists to optimize the rock analysis,” Rivière said. One more year remains for completion of the Digital Rock project, by which time Rivière expects Shell to have put her group’s findings into practice.


Digital Rock provides numerical distribution of the fluid pressure in the network of connected pores at the micro-scale. High pressure is in red and low pressure is in blue. The Rock is Berea sandstone.





are is the engineer who coins a word to describe his academic discipline and has it catch on among colleagues during his lifetime.

Consider tribomechadynamics, a mouthful fabricated by Matthew Brake, assistant professor of mechanical engineering (MECH) and founding director of the Tribomechadynamics Lab. Here’s a breakdown of the word: “tribo” is from tribology, the study of interacting surfaces, including friction and wear. “Mecha” is borrowed from contact mechanics, and the last portion of the word reflects Brake’s interest in structural and nonlinear dynamics. “All of these are well-established areas of study. What we’re doing is being inclusive and looking at interfaces at all scales, from nano to macro. How can we design and predict the response of assembled structures that contain strong nonlinearities?” he said. Applications for Brake’s research include projects in the aerospace, defense, energy and automotive industries. For NASA, his lab is testing tiles made of a carbon-fiber composite and designed for use on the exterior surfaces of spacecraft. Will the tiles withstand the impact of micro-meteors? “It’s largely ceramic but very strong and lightweight. That matters because the cost of launching a spacecraft is about $10,000 per pound. Our job is to test the material’s impact dynamics. We do that with our new drop tower and with our electromagnetic cannon,” Brake said. Before joining Rice in 2016, Brake worked for nine years at Sandia National Laboratories. In a joint research project with Sandia and Fiat Chrysler Automotive, Brake is testing a new thermal spray coating on the surfaces of automotive pistons to improve their durability and performance.


Ashley Corriguex

“The manufacturer believes the coated piston cylinders will increase fuel efficiency by seven percent. If that’s the case, the impact could be enormous,” he said. Ongoing research in collaboration with researchers from Rolls Royce is devoted to the aeroturbines in jet engines. Dozens of precisely manufactured and arranged fan blades are attached to a central shaft. When the aircraft is aloft, the turbines rotate thousands of times per minute at temperatures exceeding 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. “If we know how the turbine will behave when it’s being used, that can tell us how to optimize its design. This has implications for safety, obviously, but also for fuel efficiency and cost,” Brake said. “Small design changes, like reducing the weight, can result in enormous savings.” In just the last year, in recognition of his research, Brake has won a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and was named a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Brake organized a six-week summer research program on tribomechadynamics for graduate and high-school students, and plans to create a museum exhibit explaining friction to a non-academic audience. He has also created a tribomechadynamics course at Rice for graduate students and upper-level undergraduates. Brake was pleased to learn that the ASME Journal of Vibration and Acoustics has been accepting manuscripts for a special issue scheduled to be published in August 2020. The theme: tribomechadynamics.


“What we’re doing is being inclusive and looking at interfaces at all scales, from nano to macro. How can we design and predict the response of assembled structures that contain strong nonlinearities?”

Matthew Brake




OF COMPUTING If you can make a single photon, tell it how to spin and tell it where to go, you have a basic element for next-generation computers that work with light instead of wires. Atom-thick materials make this possible, as demonstrated by several labs. Rice University engineers have developed an understanding of the mechanism by which two-dimensional materials can be manipulated to produce the desired photons. The lab of materials theorist Boris Yakobson reports that by adding pre-arranged imperfections to atom-thick materials like molybdenum disulfide, they become capable of emitting single photons in left or right polarization on demand. The discovery through first-principle simulations was detailed in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters. The photons come from designer defects in the 2D lattice that add their own peculiar electronic properties to semiconducting materials. In the case of molybdenum disulfide, a dash of rhenium in the right spot makes a configuration of atoms with energy states that sit comfortably inside and are isolated from the material’s natural band gap.

Boris Yakobson

Once in place, the magnetic moments of atoms in the defect can be aligned with a polarized magnet. Exciting them with light brings them to a higher energetic state, but the band gap is large enough that the energy has only one way to go: out, as a coveted single photon.

The defect creates a two-level energy state isolated from the semiconducting material’s natural band gap. Illustrations by Sunny Gupta.


Defects in exotic, two-dimensional materials known as transition-metal dichalcogenides may be just what scientists need to advance quantum computing. Theoretical models by scientists at Rice University have predicted how particular 2D materials could be modified to produce photons with custom polarization.

“Atoms that make up the defect have magnetic moments that can be random, but a magnetic field can bring them to a particular quantum state, either up or down,” Yakobson said. “After that, if you shine light on the defect, it goes from its ground state to an excited state and emits a desirable single photon, with specific polarization. That makes it a bit, which will be useful in quantum information processing.” “The defect’s optical transition lies in the optical fiber telecommunication band, which is ideal for integration into photonic circuits,” added Rice graduate student and lead author Sunny Gupta. All of the 2D candidates modeled by Yakobson, Gupta and alumnus Ji-Hui Yang are dichalcogenides, semiconductors that incorporate transition metals and chalcogens.

They also modeled tungsten diselenide, zirconium disulfide, boron nitride, tungsten disufide, diamane (2D diamond, which labs are beginning to synthesize) and, for comparison, 3D diamond. “One of the advantages we argue here relative to 3D materials is that extraction of the photon is much easier, because the material is basically transparent and there is so little thickness,” Yakobson said. “Photons are not so easy to extract from 3D materials, because they may get stopped by internal reflections, or be refracted, or just dissipate in the material. But 2D materials are more open and the photon is produced near the surface, making its extraction for utility easier.”

“The defect’s optical transition lies in the optical fiber telecommunication band, which is ideal for integration into photonic circuits.” Sunny Gupta

—Sunny Gupta

Gratuate Student, Materials Science and Nanoengineering




bout 10 years ago, Eugene Ng began to notice a pattern emerging in his research.

“Things were just too slow. The amounts of data people were working with were enormous. Their hardware and software weren’t doing the job. Increasingly, I was working with new ways to handle more data, and do it faster and more reliably,” said Ng, professor of computer science (CS) and of electrical and computer engineering. Since then, Ng and his research team have devised numerous strategies that enable networks to adapt their structures dynamically, to accelerate and optimize the transmissions of large data sets, as well as algorithms and software for efficient management of the technologies. In 2018, for example, his research team introduced ShareBackup, in which backup switches are shared network-wide for repairing failures. The strategy permits networks to quickly recover full capacity while leaving applications untouched.


The standard method for dealing with switch failure was to reroute the flow of data to a different line. Because networks’ connecting servers have many paths, data centers detour the flow around the blockage. The alternate route becomes congested with too much data and its flow is severely disrupted. “Shared backup switches in data centers take on the network traffic in fractions of a second after a software or hardware switch failure. Traffic is redirected by a change in the network structure,” Ng said. ShareBackup has recorded a failure-to-recovery time of 0.73 milliseconds. Another project is even more ambitious. With the aid of a National Science Foundation grant, Ng created a customized, energy-efficient optical network that streamlines the flow of data to supercomputing clusters. Ng was the principal investigator on the project called BOLD, short for “Big-data and Optical Lightpaths-Driven networked systems.”

“We needed new approaches to network control software, operating systems and applications so that they can keep up with the faster network.” 36 RICE ENGINEERING


“Research produces mountains of data, more than ever before, and sometimes there’s no efficient way to process it. BOLD takes advantage of optical data-networking switches. They have more capacity than the conventional electronic switches used in internet data centers. “We needed new approaches to network control software, operating systems and applications so that they can keep up with the faster network. Optics is appealing to industry because it’s energy-efficient, scalable and nonintrusive to users,” Ng said. Another NSF grant, this one for $1.2 million, helped Ng develop distributed programming methods for analyzing streaming data. With Ang Chen, assistant professor of CS at Rice, Ng took advantage of programmable elements in the various components that store and deliver data to customers.

“Previously, the processing was done at the server, without any processing or computation along the path. Our goal is to change that. All of the switches, routers and other components between users and data servers can become an active part in managing and analyzing big data,” Ng said. In June, Ng was in South Korea to attend the Korean-American Kavli Frontiers of Science symposium, sponsored by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Korean Academy of Science and Technology. “I talked to neuroscientists and other people who were complaining that their software was working too slowly. I sympathized with them. That’s exactly the problem we’re trying to solve,” he said.


Michael Wong, Chelsea Clark

‘DEFECTIVE’ SPONGES SOAK UP MORE POLLUTANTS Cleaning pollutants from water with a defective filter sounds like a non-starter, but a recent study by chemical engineers at Rice University found that the right-sized defects helped a molecular sieve soak up more perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in less time.

candidates for PFAS remediation because they are highly porous and have been used to absorb and hold significant amounts of specific target molecules in previous applications. Some MOFs have a surface area larger than a football field per gram, and more than 20,000 kinds of MOFs are documented.

In a study in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, Michael Wong, Chelsea Clark and colleagues showed that a highly porous, Swiss cheese-like nanomaterial called a metal-organic framework (MOF) was faster at soaking up PFOS from polluted water, and that it could hold more PFOS, when additional nanometer-sized holes (“defects”) were built into the MOF.

Such was the case with Rice’s PFAS sorbent. Clark, a graduate student in Wong’s Catalysis and Nanomaterials Laboratory, began with a well-characterized MOF called UiO-66, and conducted dozens of experiments to see how various concentrations of hydrochloric acid changed the properties of the final product. She found she could introduce structural defects of various sizes with the method — like making Swiss cheese with extra-big holes.

PFOS was used for decades in consumer products like stain-resistant fabrics and is the best-known member of a family of toxic chemicals called “perand polyfluoroalkyl substances” (PFAS), which the Environmental Protection Agency describes as “very persistent in the environment and in the human body — meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time.”

“The large-pore defects are essentially their own sites for PFOS adsorption via hydrophobic interactions,” Clark said. “They improve the adsorption behavior by increasing the space for the PFOS molecules.”

Wong, professor and chair of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and of chemistry, said, “We are taking a step in the right direction toward developing materials that can effectively treat industrial wastewaters in the parts-per-billion and parts-per-million level of total PFAS contamination, which is very difficult to do using current technologies like granular activated carbon or activated sludge-based systems.” Wong said MOFs, three-dimensional structures that self-assemble when metal ions interact with organic molecules called linkers, seemed like good


Clark tested variants of UiO-66 with different sizes and amounts of defects to determine which variety soaked up the most PFAS from heavily polluted water in the least amount of time. “We believe that introducing random, large-pore defects while simultaneously maintaining most of the porous structure played a large role in improving the adsorption capacity of the MOF,” she said. “This also maintained the fast adsorption kinetics, which is very important for wastewater remediation applications where contact times are short.”




IS WHAT YOU MECH IT Sensors and motors and microprocessors don’t mean much without the spark of an idea to bring them together into something imaginative. A small gallery at Rice University’s Moody Center for the Arts was full of them. A classroom led by mechanical engineer Marcia O’Malley took over the space so students could present their mechatronic art creations: interactive, table-top machines that used everything they had learned in the service of fun. “Students in the class are typically juniors, seniors or graduate students and I’m really trying to bring together a lot of the fundamental topics from their majors to see how mechanical systems, electrical systems and computer controls integrate,” said O’Malley, the Stanley C. Moore Professor of Mechanical Engineering and a professor of electrical and computer engineering and computer science. “The class culminates with this project, and this year I wanted to do the theme of interactive art,” she said. “They’re all asked to do some kind of mechatronic system that must have mechanical design, sensing and actuation or some kind of action. It might not be motion, but it might be light or sound. And it has to incorporate the control system, the algorithms that decide what to do with the sensor input and how to act.” More than a dozen projects filled the gallery with light, music and mechanical sounds, but none as loud as the chatter of students playing with each other’s completed creations for the first time. Musical interpretations included a light-triggered guitar, a proximity-triggered ukulele and a unique theremin. A camera-enabled box read facial expressions and played music to match the user’s mood. 40 RICE ENGINEERING

There were several puzzles, a mechanical flower that would grow, bloom and sleep in response to its environment, and a ball-button enabled screen that let one make and pop bubbles endlessly. Abbas Presswala, who took the course as a visiting graduate student from Purdue University, made the guitar with teammate Craig Broadman and said the course quickly became his favorite. “I’ve learned a ton, and it really enforced all the principles,” he said. “The application of things and the artistic mechanisms were really different from what you get in other courses. I enjoyed it from the beginning to the end.”

Ashwin Varma being interviewed after presenting the group’s findings to Houston City Council.

STUDENT TEAM USES BIG DATA TO HELP IMPROVE HFD RESPONSE TIMES The Houston Fire Department, third-largest in the United States, has in its fleet 88 engines, 36 ladder trucks and 95 EMS ambulances, and that doesn’t count pumpers and other ancillary vehicles.

“The data was messy,” Varma said. “Our first job was to clean it up. We didn’t always know when the vehicles left the station, and in some cases there were obvious errors. Also, false alarms.”

This soon starts to sound like a story problem in math: Given that HFD responds to fires and other mishaps from 93 fire stations in an area exceeding 654 square miles, what’s the most efficient way to distribute these vehicles in order to minimize response time?

He estimates that their initial cleanup eliminated about five percent of the data. “Then we figured out pretty quickly,” Varma said, “that the fire department already does a pretty good job of allocating their vehicles. There is no global problem.”

“They call it fleet management. The firefighters are always looking for ways to save time, which can save lives. They came to us. They wanted us to analyze the data and make some suggestions,” said Anastasios “Tasos” Kyrillidis, Noah Harding Assistant Professor of Computer Science.

The team determined that small pockets of coverage in the southwestern portion of the city might be better served with the purchase of five additional ambulances. On average, the enlarged fleet would result in 10 seconds cut from response times – not a negligible amount in emergencies.

Starting last spring, Kyrillidis advised a team of seniors with the Rice University’s Data-to-Knowledge (D2K) Learning Lab. Shannon Chen, Erin Kreus, Jesse Pan, Ashwin Varma and Lynn Zhu, all majoring in statistics, graduated in May. A month earlier their presentation, “Formulating Optimal Vehicle Location Policies for the Houston Fire Department,” won first place in the D2K Learning Lab Showcase. On August 13, Varma presented the team’s findings to Houston City Council’s Public Safety Committee. The raw data they analyzed consisted of the more than 2 million emergency calls received by HFD between 2011 and 2018. The firefighters wanted a vehicle allocation model based on conclusions drawn from the data.

The study continues. Team members who remain in greater Houston meet weekly with Kyrillidis and representatives of the fire department. Varma seeks additional information in order to fine-tune the data analysis. For instance, what is the impact of a patient choosing a specific hospital over being taken to the one closest to the scene of a fire or accident? Varma goes to work with the Boston Consulting Group in January 2020. “I’m thinking about medical school. Working with the Houston Fire Department has already increased my interest in public health.”


“I knew an electrical engineering degree would open many doors,” said Robert Garriott. “My philosophy has always been to open as many doors as possible and pick the right opportunities.”


antasy computer games don’t come close to the true adventures of a Rice engineering alumnus, an entrepreneur at heart. Robert Garriott admits he never liked playing computer games.

This surprising pronouncement comes from the prominent computer game industry entrepreneur who co-founded Origin Systems and Destination Games and is the former CEO of NCsoft-North America. Garriott received a B.S. in electrical engineering degree from Rice University in 1979, a M.S. in engineering economic systems degree from Stanford University in 1980 and a M.S. in management degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983. When Robert was 10 years old, the Garriott family moved from San Jose, California, to Nassau Bay, Texas, after his dad, Owen Garriott, was accepted into NASA’s astronaut program. When it was time for college, Garriott chose Rice. He worked for Central Kitchen, folding laundry and delivering food for four years to pay half his tuition – a policy his father maintained throughout his upbringing, whether it was for a bike or a new toy. What is not included in his Wikipedia page of significant accomplishments is the important role Rice played not only in his academic life, but his personal one. At Rice, he met his wife, Marcy Dodd, also an electrical engineering major, and they graduated the same year. Although the couple stopped seeing each other at Rice, they reunited by chance when they both went to Stanford for graduate degrees. They chose the Rice Memorial Chapel for their wedding ceremony in January 1982, and as he said, “celebrate a 37-year marriage, so far!”


“I loved Rice and its teachers,” said Garriott. “Rice was the best school I attended and the most cost effective.” One Rice engineering teacher holds special significance: Bill Wilson.“He was a great electrical engineer and a wonderful teacher,” he said. “He was an important influence on me.” Garriott laughs recalling Wilson’s class on Properties of Transistors. “Right before my last oral final in his class, I joked to my supervisor in Central Kitchen that I thought the final would be easy.” Garriott’s supervisor was a friend of Wilson’s and told him about the conversation. “That final exam became the hardest I ever had,” he said. “Bill grilled me to the point I had sweat dripping off my fingers. He and I laughed about it later and we became great friends. He came to our wedding and he has a special place in my heart.” In 1982 Garriott was working at a venture capital company, specializing in technology investments. “I suggested to my brother Richard that we start a developer-oriented game company that would be different in that the developer gets paid first.” The two brothers, with assistance from their electrical engineer/astronaut Dad, worked in the family’s Nassau Bay garage and established Origin Systems in 1983. The company’s first game was Ultima III: Exodus and the Ultima series was hugely popular, earning several awards. The company is also known for its Wing Commander series. By 1990 Origin was the number one independent publisher of computer games in the U.S. Garriott traveled regularly to Tokyo and Europe, building international publishing relationships and boosting worldwide sales. “We sold Origin to Electronic Arts in 1992,” he said. The same year Robert and Richard were named Entrepreneur of the Year in High Technology from Inc. Magazine and E&Y consulting.


Robert Garriot (R), and his father Owen Garriott

Garriott was executive vice president of product development at EA until 1995. “I got burned out,” he said, “and retired. After five years, my wife strongly encouraged me to do something again.” His brother had an idea: online games. “Destination Games was born in 2000,” he said. “We were in on the ground level of the online game business in the U.S. and I always found the game business itself to be fun.”

Bill Wilson

For the past nine years, Garriott has been happily retired and his wife, Marcy, a former Vice President at AT&T, produces documentary films. Garriott’s passion is flying, especially performing aerobatics. He flies corporate jets (Beechcraft Premier 1), Bell helicopters (Bell 407), and war birds, such as World War II P-51 Mustangs. One of his treasured memories is flying a P-51 Mustang with his dad to Cape Canaveral and landing on the runway used for NASA’s shuttle program. Owen Garriott’s career is legendary at NASA. He spent 60 days aboard the Skylab space station in 1973 during the Skylab 3 mission and also 10 days aboard Spacelab-1 on a Space Shuttle mission in 1983. Owen died April 15, 2019 in Huntsville, Alabama. Robert’s brother, Richard, was a space tourist on board Soyuz in 2008, returning after 12 days. Robert Garriott always wanted to be an entrepreneur. “I knew an electrical engineering degree would open many doors,” he said. “My philosophy has always been to open as many doors as possible and pick the right opportunities.”

One Rice engineering teacher holds special significance: Bill Wilson. “He was a great electrical engineer and a wonderful teacher,” he said. “He was an important influence on me.”


WEAVING MAGIC OF MAKE-BELIEVE Rebecca Lam has come a long way from the little girl who was terrified riding her first roller coaster. Now she loves nothing more than to enhance the guest experience of visitors when they step into a world of man-made enchantment. Lam is surrounded by the wonders of creativity and technology in her new role as a planner for Walt Disney World Resort’s project management group in Orlando. “This is an opportunity to understand the project management side of the industry, adding to the knowledge of how attractions are built and assembled, which I worked on in my previous role at Disney’s manufacturing division,” Lam said. Lam earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Rice University in 2015. “Rice is the Hogwarts I always dreamed about,” she said. “My 11-year-old self always waited for a letter from Hogwarts and when I got my acceptance letter from Rice, that was my Hogwarts moment.” Hogwarts is the fictional school of magic in the Harry Potter books. Growing up in Atlanta, Lam’s family visited Six Flags Over Georgia frequently. “Even when I was very young, whenever I waited in line with Baba, my dad, an electrical engineer and theme park junkie, he would ask me questions about how to make operations more efficient or the guest experience better.” While at Rice, Lam got her first taste of a theme park’s industry side during a family visit to Walt Disney World. “I became excited when I realized there are people behind these screens who do this for a living,” she said. During that trip, Lam learned about the Disney ImagiNations Design competition and knew she had to enter. “Themed entertainment is the perfect triad of advanced technology, art, and hospitality,” she said. “Rice fosters all of these, making it the perfect environment where I could create a multi-faceted team. I found such joy doing this project that I knew I didn’t want to do anything else. This project was the catalyst for my career.” Lam’s team was a semi-finalist in 2014 and again in 2015 out of hundreds of entries. One of the team’s projects was creating a Cape Town, South Africa transportation system concept showcasing the diversity and connectivity of its people. “During a recent meeting with an Imagineer, I brought a visual of this project and he remembered seeing it during the competition,” she said. “I realized I had come full circle. This competition was what interested me in this industry and now I was in a meeting with one of the judges.” Lam loves themed entertainment as a whole, not just the thrill of the attraction. “I love transporting people into these worlds,” she said. “I like building on these stories knowing that guests learn from them how to become better friends and family in their own lives.” 44 RICE ENGINEERING

Lam credits Rice for preparing her with the skill sets to achieve her goals. “My freshman Introduction to Engineering Design class was a tremendous influence,” she said. “This industry is project-based and that class taught us the tools to be successful and accountable for our project results.” She was proud of being in the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership program and was in its inaugural class. The program strengthened her decision-making abilities, an important part of project management. “Project management is some of the most important work a student does at Rice because it prepares you for the real world,” she said. At Rice, she joined Themed Entertainment Association as a NextGen member and the experience solidified themed entertainment as a perfect fit. On her last day at Rice she accepted an internship with Oceaneering Entertainment Systems in Orlando, which quickly led to a full-time position as a ride engineer. “We focused on creating rides and shows that evoke emotional responses among guests and how to move audiences through stories. We relied on SolidWorks which Rice teaches its engineers to model new attraction systems,” she said. Oceaneering Entertainment Systems provides ride vehicles for attractions such as Transformers™: The Ride-3D at Universal Studios Hollywood and Singapore. Lam’s advice for those interested in this career path? “If you want something, take the necessary risks,” she said. “I took a lot of chances on my journey here and it is definitely scary. Listen to your inner voice, because through that I learned what sparks joy for me.” “One of our interns is a Rice student at Brown,” she said, “and working with him is my opportunity to see the next generation of Rice students showcase their influence on this amazing industry.” On her last day at Rice, Lam posted her thoughts after leaving the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen: “Rice, you’ve humbled me, inspired me, humanized me, and by the grace of God, have equipped me for whatever comes next in this life.” Lam never tires of her work environment. “What better way to be rewarded on a walk after work than with fireworks in the sky,” she said. And strolling by Cinderella Castle doesn’t hurt either. Lam is an employee of The Walt Disney Company and the views and opinions expressed in this article are those of hers and the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Walt Disney Company.


“Project management is some of the most important work a student does at Rice because it prepares you for the real world.”




“His legacy is his lasting impact on our family, many friends, former students, and colleagues at Rice and around the world, as well as his widely respected contributions to science and engineering.”


Mark and Jay Hellums pose with their father after he was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering


he legacy of J. David Hellums, one of the founding fathers and chairperson of the Rice University Department of Bioengineering and former dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering, is being honored with the J. David Hellums Fund for Faculty Excellence in Bioengineering. Hellums, the A. J. Hartsook Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, devoted 55 years to engineering and health sciences advancement and teaching at Rice and his contributions to research and education are legendary. He died in 2016 at the age of 86.

The Hellums’ family envisions the fund will support faculty and their research in the Department of Bioengineering. “This fund will be used for fellowships for research trainees, recruitment to help attract leading postdoctoral and graduate students, seed funding for new research ideas and/or funding to bring visiting bioengineering professors to Rice,” said Marilyn Hellums, J. David’s wife of 59 years. “Our goal is to honor and continue his legacy at Rice,” she said. “His legacy is his lasting impact on our family, many friends, former students, and colleagues at Rice and around the world, as well as his widely-respected contributions to science and engineering. It is very satisfying that there is something permanent at Rice that bears his name and will forever provide support for bioengineering at Rice.” Hellums joined Rice as an assistant professor of chemical engineering in 1960 and his impact on the world of medicine began within a few years into his Rice appointment. He was recruited to apply his knowledge of engineering fundamentals to seek solutions to the bleeding and clotting problems associated with cardiovascular prostheses and the first successful implantation of a left-ventricular bypass pump by Dr. Michael E. DeBakey.

By 1968, Hellums’ engineering efforts brought unprecedented dimensional insight to clinical applications in hemostasis and thrombosis. He established highly successful collaborative research projects in hematology between Rice engineers and a group of physician-scientists at Baylor College of Medicine. His longstanding collaborators in hematological research and medicine included chemical engineer, Larry McIntire, and physicians Clarence Alfrey, Jr., Edward Lynch, Clarence (Buck) Brown III and Joel Moake. Their work involved in-depth studies into the mechanical, chemical and molecular basis of thrombus-linked risk factors, including the disruption of blood flow, platelet dysfunction and activation, inflammation and blood hypercoagulability. These collaborative efforts transformed medicine and reduced the risk for heart attack and stroke. The work credited Hellums as the first engineer to receive a Merit Research Award from the National Institutes of Health, a 10-year grant that was extended twice for a total of 20 years of funding. Research and education under Hellums’ direction and his pioneering efforts to unite expertise between investigators at Rice and physicians at the Texas Medical Center were the genesis of what bioengineering is at Rice today. Hellums was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1998. He was a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, a founding fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, and a fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society. Hellums was not only an esteemed academician and researcher, he was a beloved husband, father and friend to many. He mentored and formed life-long bonds with a host of students and scientists.




RICE ENGINEERING ALUMNI HELPING TO PROVIDE A VARIETY OF SUPPORT Formed in 1938, Rice Engineering Alumni (REA) is the oldest alumni affinity group at Rice and is dedicated to providing support to the George R. Brown School of Engineering. Membership in the REA is open and automatic for all alumni. All members are welcome at any REA event. REA’s mission is to support, honor and connect Rice engineers before and after graduation. REA has been working hard to continue and build the engineering alumni’s legacy at Rice and to make all of us proud of our alma mater.


With the alumni’s financial supports, REA has helped: Enrich the mechanical engineering program through the renovation of the Internal Combustion Engine Lab which included a rebuilt internal combustion engine. Financially support the undergraduate labs in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department. Advance the academic pursuits of graduate students through financial assistance, enabling them to attend conferences outside the area. Inspire innovation at the OEDK by providing students with a carbon-fiber 3D-printer for the Maker Bar, and by sponsoring student projects at OEDK. Showcase our bright and creative Rice engineering students at prominent and high-profile engineering competitions.

The simplest way to describe REA is that we are paying it forward. The education that we received from Rice Engineering and the previous generations of engineering alumni have helped us reach our professional goals. We, the present generation of engineering alumni, need to support the present generation of students, so that they will support the future generations of students.



WE WANT YOU Thanks to the generous support of our individual and corporate donors REA raised more than $46,000 in FY2019. Sponsorship gifts were used to perform REA’s mission: supporting future alumni by gifts to the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK), OWLSpark, multi-disciplinary student teams (Rice Eclipse, Rice Electric Vehicle, Rice Solar Spring Break), graduate students (for travel to present papers at conferences) and others ; connecting alumni at events in Houston, Austin, Dallas-Ft. Worth, San Francisco Bay Area, Washington DC and New Orleans; and honoring Rice engineers by recognition of outstanding students and the awarding of student grants at the REA Annual Picnic. In FY2019 REA additionally made two special capital gifts to the School of Engineering: $18,000 to the OEDK to purchase a Carbon Fiber 3D printer and the first $15,000 installment of a three-year $50,000 gift to the Chemical Engineering Laboratory. These gifts highlight both REA’s active engagement with the School of Engineering and how its member-directed stewardship serves to direct our funds to have an impact.

REA is not a traditional independent charity but rather an organization whose operations are controlled and directed by its members. What makes REA special is that members both enable its mission by their sponsorship contributions and provide stewardship over its operation by their participation. To accomplish its mission REA needs the continued financial support of its members and benefactors. In the future, when you are asked to give to REA (you will undoubtedly be asked) remember that your fellow REA members will assure your money is efficiently spent.

FY2018-19 REA SPONSORSHIP Fiscal Year: July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019


Total REA support including annual endowment distributions and REA sponsorship


Total dollars donated to the REA


Number of REA Sponsors, including corporations and foundations


REA ANNUAL REPORT RICE ENGINEERING ALUMNI AWARDS At the 2019 George R. Brown School of Engineering Alumni Celebration in November, the school will honor eight alumni for their achievements in the engineering profession.

Wanda Gass

Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award Wanda Gass received a B.S. in electrical engineering in 1978 and went on to earn a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from Duke University in 1980. That same year she went to work for Texas Instruments where she helped develop the first marketable digital signal processor. She was promoted to the position of technical fellow, the equivalent of a vice president at the company, and retired from Texas Instruments in 2012. Currently, she serves as president of Design Connect Create, a non-profit encouraging young women’s participation in STEM fields.

Keith Baggerly

Outstanding Engineering Alumni Awards Keith Baggerly earned his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in statistics in 1990, 1993 and 1994, respectively. Since 1999 he was worked for the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where he is a professor of bioinformatics and computational biology.

James Kahle

James Kahle graduated with a B.S. in mathematical sciences, computer science and electrical engineering in 1983. He has worked for more than 35 years at IBM, where he has held many managerial and technical positions, and now is an IBM Fellow and the CTO and chief architect for converged cognitive systems. Jorge Nocedal earned his Ph.D. in mathematical sciences in 1978. He is the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences at Northwestern University and director of the Center for Optimization and Statistical Learning. Varun Mehta earned his M.S. in computer engineering in 1988. He is the vice president of product strategy for the storage division of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Inc. Previously he founded Nimble Storage and served as its vice president of engineering. He also has held management positions with NetApp, FastForward Networks, Panasas and Sun Microsystems.

Jorge Nocedal

Varun Mehta

Outstanding Young Engineering Alumni Awards Allison Heath earned her B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in computer science in 2004, 2007 and 2010, respectively. She is director of data technology and innovation at the Center for Data-Driven Discovery in Biomedicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Clement Pang earned a B.S. in computer science and in electrical and computer engineering in 2007. Since 2013 he has been chief architect and co-founder of Wavefront Inc. in Palo Alto, Calif.

Allison Heath

Distinguished Service Medal James Crownover earned a B.S. in chemical engineering in 1966. He worked for 30 years for McKinsey & Company, Inc., and retired as its director in 1998. He served two four-year terms as chairman of the Rice University Board of Trustees.


Clement Pang

James Crownover


H.T. Than

After more than 30 years of experience as a student, alumnus, volunteer and mentor with Rice Engineering, one thing remains evident: our students and graduates are using their gifts to change the world in breathtaking ways. Since receiving my M.S. in mechanical engineering in 1987, I’ve been fortunate to remain an active participant in the School of Engineering. I’ve had opportunities to support several OEDK/Rice 360 undergraduate design teams who have engineered amazing projects, including life-saving medical devices for low-resource settings. As a REA board member, I’ve been privileged to host graduate design teams when they represented Rice and showcased their work in the AAU/ APLU University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase in Washington, D.C. It was gratifying to connect that team to Rice alumni who were interested in investing in the team’s startup company. As the incoming REA president, I will continue to support our students’ research and explore new ways to empower them to take their ideas beyond Rice. Many of our alumni are in positions to mentor and invest in our students. Over the next year, one of our primary goals will be to invite and host alumni on campus to meet engineering design teams and introduce them to Rice alumni nationwide. I look forward to working with all of you to empower our students to continue changing the world, one amazing design at a time.

H.T. Than REA President 2019-20

BECOME A BOARD MEMBER Rice Engineering Alumni is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors comprising approximately 24 alumni with diverse career paths. Our board members include Apoorv Bhargava (B.S.Ch.E., ’12), who was recently included in the Forbes 30 under 30 - Energy 2019; Joanna Nathan (BS BioE ’11, MS BioE ’12) was featured in the Rice Magazine for her pioneering work on medical devices for women’s health; and Wayne Hale (B.S.M.E., ’76.) who was a NASA engineer, and a flight director and space shuttle program manager. Many of the directors are entrepreneurs and lawyers.

REA Board members serve staggered 3-year terms and work on standing committees and task forces that carry out the work and mission of REA. If you are interested in joining Apoorv, Joanna, Wayne and other REA board members please submit an application. If you have questions regarding the application or board member requirements, please contact Ramesh “Neelsh” Neelamani, Chair of REA Board Governance, via email at neelsh@gmail.com.




Rice Engineering Alumni gave more than $150,000 in scholarships and grants at the annual end-of-year picnic on April 13 and hosted jointly by the George R. Brown School of Engineering: Bob Dickson Awards

Named for the 1955 alumnus to recognize a student or students whose work benefits society Jose Pacheco, ’20, ECE Nishant Verma, ’19, BIOE

The Buckley-Sartwelle Scholarship

Created by Jack Boyd Buckley ’48 and Helen Sartwelle Buckley ’44 in memory of their parents Marco Gutierrez, ’19 MECH

Hershel M. Rich Invention Awards

Honors Hershel Rich, ’45, ’47 and recognizes the best engineering inventions Naomi Halas, Stanley C. Moore Professor of ECE Peter Nordlander, Professor of ECE Hossein Robatjazi, sixth-year graduate student ECE Dayne Swearer, fifth-year graduate student in chemistry Chao Zhang, ’16 Hangqi Zhao, ’15 Linan Zhou, postdoctoral research associate ECE

James W. Waters Creativity Awards Named for Professor James Waters 1917 Victor Gonzalez ’19, CAAM Chris Hareland ’19, MSNE

Ralph Budd Thesis Award

Given in recognition of the best thesis in engineering Adithya Pediredla, ’19 Ph.D., ECE

Harrianna Butler Scholarship

Recognizes a married engineering student Ali Khater, Ph.D., MSNE

Alan J. Chapman Award

Named in honor of former Dean of Engineering Alan Chapman ’45, to recognize an outstanding senior in engineering Brent Schwarz ’19, MECH

T.M. Panos Award

Outstanding Research Excellence Award Erik Wu ’19, BIOE

Distinguished Research Excellence Award Kevin Zhang ’19, ChBE Christopher Hareland ’19, MSNE

Outstanding Leadership Excellence Award Gabrielle Lencioni ’19, ChBE

Distinguished Leadership Excellence Awards Tiger Yang ’20, ECE Samuel Zorek ’19, MECH

International Service Award Talia Kramer ’19, CEE

Outstanding Senior Award Constantine Tzouanas ’19, BIOE

Distinguished Senior Awards Serena Agrawal ’19, MECH Akash Dhawan ’19, BIOE

Senior Merit Awards Riana Syed ‘19, BIOE Anna Cowan ‘19, CAAM Horatia Fang ‘19, ChBE Erik Yamada ‘19, CS Tianyi Zhang ‘19, ECE Nathalie Philips ‘19, MECH Christopher Hareland ‘19, MSNE

Outstanding Junior Award Brandon M. Johnson ’20, ChBE

Distinguished Junior Award Jeffrey Michel ’20, MECH Joshua Bochner ’20, ChBE

Created by siblings Michael ’53 and Ellie Panos to recognizes an outstanding senior in mechanical engineering Nathalie Phillips ’19, MECH Arthur Belkin ’19, MECH

Junior Merit Awards

Dick and Mary Wilson

Fall Student Grants

Ji Won Kim ‘21, CEE

Rice Eclipse, $3,000 Rice Solar Spring Break Team, $2,500

Walter Austin Memorial Scholarship Akshay Kalyan ’20, CEE

Joe D. and Margaret Clegg Award Noah Kenner ’20, MECH

Phil Layton Awards for Excellence in the Arts Shelby Bice ’19, CS Tori Joshi ’20, MECH

Willy Revolution Awards

Recognize innovation and creativity in engineering design Savva Morozov, ‘22 Craig Broadman ‘19 Madison Nasteff ‘19 Phil King ‘19 Tim Nonet ‘19, Ben Montalbano ‘19 Carolina De Santiago ‘19 Brent Schwarz ‘19 Aravind Sundaramraj ‘19 Shlok Sobti ‘19 Karen Vasquez ‘19 Maggie Webb ‘19


Abby Lawrence ‘20, ChBE, Tammita Phongmekhin ‘20, ECE Alex Acosta ‘20, MECH

Spring Student Grants Rice Electric Vehicle Team, $2,500

Graduate Travel Grants Jason George, $595 Lantao Yu, $1,100 Joel Kim, $1,100 Esther Lou, $900 Kimmai Tran, $300 Ruikin Xin, $700 Anna Crumbley, $305


ELECTRIC VEHICLE TEAM Rice Electric Vehicle is an undergraduate design team that gives engineering students the opportunity to design, build, test, and race prototype electric vehicles. Since receiving our grant from the REA, the team competed in the 2019 Shell Eco-Marathon Americas, achieving 977.3 MPGe in a seven-mile race.

Constantine Tzouanas

The George R. Brown School of Engineering and REA bid a fond farewell to Constantine Tzouanas, who graduated this year and is attending graduate school at MIT. Constantine was awarded a REA partial scholarship at the Science & Engineering Fair of Houston (SEFH) as a high school junior which he put to good use at Rice when he arrived on campus. During his four years at Rice, in addition to his studies and activities on campus he won the Outstanding Senior and Engineering Hard Hat awards, as well as the Junior Merit award for Bioengineeing, and he represented REA and GRBSoE as a judge in the SEFH. We wish all the best for Constantine in the future!

SOLAR SPRING BREAK Rice’s Solar Spring Break team’s mission is to educate and excite students about solar energy and environmental justice by having students be an active part of the transition to renewable energy. Since receiving REA’s grant, the team has traveled to Fresno, California and installed 3.8kW of solar panels on low-income single-family homes in partnership with GRID Alternatives. This installation avoided an estimated 41.17 tons of greenhouse gas emissions and provided the team with valuable hands-on experience.



EVENTS REA hosted two Dallas-Fort Worth area events during the year. The first, held at the Frontiers of Flight Museum, supplemented the exhibits with a program led by a Rice engineer who performed engineering design and support for several of the displayed airplanes. REA had the good fortune to share the museum with a regional gathering of Girl Scouts a number of whom are now prospective Rice engineers. The second event, a pre-opening “Hard Hat Tour” of the new Texas Rangers Baseball stadium, was arranged by Lee Slade (Rice CEE ‘76), board chairman of Walter P. Moore Engineers, the principal structural engineers for the venue. The tour group visited the stadium on one of the few clear dry days of spring. Participants enjoyed the guided tour and open Q&A time with our hosts. Our Austin chapter co-hosted a Tech and Entrepreneurship Happy Hour with the Austin Rice Alliance in the fall, and we saw lots of new faces, especially young tech alumni. Dean DesRoches and Yael Hochberg (professor of entrepreneurship, and head of Rice’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, Jones School) came to Austin in the spring. REA Alumni were able to mingle with the Dean and Prof. Hochberg at a reception before their presentations. DesRoches shared the state of the engineering school and his vision for positioning the school for the present and the future, and Professor Hochberg discussed Lilie, the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. REA also sponsored an Austin all-alumni happy hour in the spring. Visit alumni.rice.edu/groups/regional#domestic for REA events across the nation.

UPCOMING REA EVENTS REA Intellectual Property Q&A @ OEDK February 7, 2020 REA Winter Social February 8, 2020 Spring baseball Tailgate TBD Alumni Student Awards & Spring Picnic April 18, 2020 For more information, please visit alumni.rice.edu/rea.





George R. Brown (1898-1983), after whom the School of Engineering is named, was born in Belton, Texas. After studying at Rice, he graduated from the Colorado School of Mines in 1922 and joined the construction firm started by his brother, Herman Brown. By the late 1950s, Brown and Root was among the largest engineering and construction companies in the world, and after the death of his brother in 1962, Brown became president. That year, he sold the business to the Halliburton Company. Brown later served as a director of Halliburton, Armco Steel Corporation, Louisiana Land and Exploration Co., International Telephone and Telegraph Corp., Trans-World Airlines, Southland Paper Co., First City Bancorporation and Highland Oil Company. In 1951, Brown, his brother Herman and their wives founded the Brown Foundation, which has donated to Rice, Southwestern University and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among other recipients. As of 2018, the Brown Foundation had given away some $1.6 billion. Brown was also heavily involved in leadership at Rice. In 1943, he was elected to the Rice Board of Trustees and became chairman of the Board in 1950 — the first alumnus to receive this honor. Brown helped guide the university through its first major growth, including the construction of Fondren Library, Anderson Hall, Abercrombie Engineering Laboratory and the opening of a new 70,000-seat football stadium in 1950. He also helped guide the university toward a culture of excellence in teaching, scholarship and research and was chairman when the university established the Rice College system in 1957. While his chairmanship of the Board ended in 1965, his service to Rice did not. He was the chairman of a $33 million capital fundraising campaign. Brown pledged the largest gift, $4.5 million, and traveled widely across the country to meet with alumni on behalf of the university. Brown continued to give generously for many years and is known as one of Rice’s great benefactors and leaders.