Page 1

A magazine from the College of Engineering Winter 2011 • Vol. 3 No. 1 Discover Nevada at

Nevada Engineering We pursue excellence


the Foundation for Global Prosperity

eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

contents, contributions and thanks

Contents 3 4 14 16 20 26 30 34 38 40 45 59 62 64 65 66 67

Dean’s Message Infrastructure

Chemical & Metallurgical Engineering Department Civil & Environmental Engineering Department Computer Science & Engineering Department Electrical & Biomedical Engineering Department Mechanical Engineering Department Faculty News Advisory Board College News Student News Student Awards Memoriam Alumni News Alumni Profile Summer Camps Scrugham Medal

Contributors Sally Casas • Theresa Danna-Douglas • Skyler Dillon • Jean Dixon • Mary Hunton • Sara Lafrance • Krystal Pyatt Natalie Savidge • Kathie Taylor • Jane Tors • John Trent • Krystal Pyatt • Claudene Wharton • Mike Wolterbeek

The College of Engineering is proud to announce that no state funds were used to support this issue or last December’s issue of “Engineering News.” We are extremely grateful to Peter Royce, CE’60, Dale Placey, CME ‘ 67, Lala Placey, close friend of the College, and Granite Construction, Inc., long-time corporate friend of the College whose contributions made these publications possible. The faculty, staff, and students thank them for their appreciation of excellence and their generosity.


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

from the dean

Meeting the challenges and moving forward Dear Friends,


The beginning of a new academic year always brings high hopes, even with the undeniable background that the past year has been one of adjustment and budgetary reduction. The state of Nevada’s unprecedented budgetary crisis has been felt strongly at the University of Nevada, Reno, with more than $40 million having been trimmed from the institution’s budget over the past year.

I am a firm believer, however, that a reduction in budget should not lead to a reduction of one’s vision and development of strategies for building the future. At the College of Engineering, we are positioning ourselves for the future by maintaining our faculty’s morale, working collaboratively with our colleagues and peers, encouraging our students to reach far and wide during their time in our care, and continuing to grow our research and outreach enterprise. I am very proud of the way our faculty, staff and students have reacted during this time. There are a number of accomplishments and milestones that I wish to quickly share with you: In May 2010, we celebrated the graduation of one of our largest senior classes ever. These students were among the most diverse and accomplished we have ever produced. Enrollment for the University and the college remains at an all-time high. Nevada welcomed its largest freshman class ever in fall 2010, a class of more than 2,500 first-time students. President Milton Glick has been justifiably proud of the fact that in addition to record enrollment, our retention and graduation rates are at an all-time high. Just as one example, the University awarded 66 percent more degrees in May 2010 as compared to May 2000. We are not only attracting more students, we have created the academic infrastructure that has allowed record numbers to graduate. Our students accomplish wonderful things on a daily basis, and this year was no exception. Just as one example, our concrete canoe team again ranked in the top three in the country with its secondplace finish in June’s National Concrete Canoe Competition, sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

We continue to grow our local outreach efforts through our Engineering Summer Camps and our national outreach with the participation of a number of our faculty on national committees and panels. Rankings for our college and the University are higher than ever before. For the first time ever, U.S. News & World Report has included Nevada among its Tier 1 institutions – the highest honor it can bestow. Research for the college has continued to be strong. Our research through each of our departments continues to be timely, productive and of national and worldwide interest. We have built a solid foundation that will allow us to pursue our vision and grow into a premiere engineering research college. If there is one theme to take away from all of this – and indeed, it is a theme permeating this publication – it is that of infrastructure. In all of the instances cited above, infrastructure was a driving force behind the successes – academic infrastructure in targeted and effective academic advising; college infrastructure in the support our faculty receives from the college and the University in their teaching, research and outreach efforts; and, infrastructure for the future in the dynamic ways our faculty are helping the state of Nevada and the nation deal with the many critical aspects of civil, cyberspace and energy infrastructure. The articles presented in this magazine summarize some of the infrastructure related aspects that our faculty are pursuing. Although there is much to anticipate in the coming year, we cannot excel at any of this without your continued interest and support. The College of Engineering welcomes your comments and ideas. We invite you to share our accomplishment this past year presented in our magazine and our high hopes for the future. Sincerely, Manos Maragakis Dean, College of Engineering

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

infrastructure: the foundation for global prosperity

College Structures Team at Forefront of Bridge Earthquake Research Story by Dr. Ahmad Itani; Dr. David Sanders; Dr. Ian G. Buckle; and Dr. M. Saiid Saiidi Civil & Environmental Engineering

Bridges are monuments by which many cities identify themselves. Similar to other civil engineering achievements, bridges also serve a critical function in modern transportation networks. For more than 30 years the structures faculty have made bridge earthquake engineering their primary research focus, and are recognized internationally for their pioneering effort. This article presents brief highlights of some of their current research projects.

Fig. 1- Reinforced concrete 4-span bridge model

Fig. 2- Resilience of Structures

Fig. 3- Test setup for column under combined action

Fig. 4- Collapsed 30-foot long test cage


Highway and Bridge Systems Four-Span Bridges: Until the construction of the shake table system of four high-capacity tables at the University of Nevada, Reno, only bridge components such as columns or beams could be studied. The structures faculty has been able to utilize the equipment to study the entire bridge system and investigate the interaction among components. One of the projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (PI: Saiidi; UNR Co-PIs: Buckle and Pekcan) is aimed at the seismic response of three, 110-foot long 4-span bridge models (Fig. 1) some with conventional reinforced concrete columns and others using advanced materials such as Nickel-Titanium, concrete mixed with polyvinyl fibers, glass fiber-reinforced composite tubes, and carbon-reinforced composite materials. The study has revealed the great potential of advanced materials to substantially improve the seismic performance of bridges. The project website ( bridges/) provides more information and video clips of the tests under “Data and Documentations.” Seismic Resilience of Highway Bridges: The objective of this project (PI: Buckle; Co-PIs: Itani, Pekcan, Saiidi, and Sanders) is to study the resilience of highway systems with a view to improving their performance during major earthquakes. The project is funded by the Federal Highway Administration and Caltrans. As shown in Fig. 2, resilience is directly related to the time taken to return to “normal” following a damaging earthquake the shorter the time, the more resilient is the system. Under this project an assessment methodology is being developed to estimate recovery times (resilience) using REDARS, a loss estimation tool for highway systems. A major experimental program has begun related to curved bridges and bridges in near-fault zones. REDARS will then be used to study resilience and identify factors that improve recovery times. In addition, design aids for curved bridges and those in near-fault regions will be developed. New technologies for improving the performance of bridges such as hybrid isolation, rocking and self-centering columns are under development and the effect of live load on seismic performance is being studied. Bridge Components Columns under Combined Action: During earthquakes bridge columns are subjected to combinations of actions and deformations, caused by complex input earthquake and response characteristics. Unexpectedly large deformations and extensive damage could occur that affect performance of bridges as vital components of transportation systems. Current analysis and design practices do not take into consideration the full range of interactions. To address the complex behavior of bridge members under combined loadings and its impact on bridge response, a comprehensive study sponsored by NSF is in progress (PI: Sanders; with Co-PIs from six other U.S. institutions including the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, UCLA, and Purdue University) (Fig. 3). A fundamental knowledge of the impact of combined actions on column performance and their implications on system response is being developed that could impact the seismic bridge design practice. Rebar Cage Stability: In another study funded by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) (PI: Itani), the stability of bridge column rebar cages is being investigated. Collapse of rebar cages has been problematic costing bridge owners, contractors, and the public substantial time and money. The lateral stiffness and strength of rebar cages depends on the connections between the longitudinal and transverse bars and on the presence of internal braces. An experimental investigation was conducted on various tie wire connections to determine their capacity. These results were then used in nonlinear finite element analyses to determine the significance of tie wire connections and bracing. The results have shown that the internal braces and their configurations are the primary contributors to the stability of rebar cages. To calibrate the finite element models, large-scale rebar cage models have been tested to failure (Fig. 4). Based on this investigation, guidelines are being established for the assembly and construction of bridge column rebar cages to keep them stable. Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

infrastructure: the foundation for global prosperity Rapid Seismic Repair: A highway network plays a vital role affecting numerous aspects of the society. Public expectations are on the rise, and transportation officials have been responsive by trying to improve quality and speed of construction. Accelerated bridge construction and repair are among areas receiving nationwide attention. Conventional bridges are designed to avoid collapse in earthquakes with the understanding that they might be severely damaged and unusable. Public demand for improved service is changing this paradigm. Under a research grant from Caltrans, the means to restore severely damaged concrete bridge columns in less than a week is being studied at the Nevada (PI: Saiidi). Through this project, carbon fiber composites under accelerated curing conditions are applied on damaged bridge columns that are shaken by simulated earthquakes in the lab. An optimized, simple process is being developed to aid engineers in making quick yet reliable decision about the repair strategy in the field following earthquakes. Slab-Column Connections: Slab bridges incorporate piles that extend directly from the ground into the superstructure with no intermediate pile caps. Unlike the column to box-girder bridge connections, slab-bridge connections are rarely covered by seismic codes. Because slab bridges cover relatively short spans, they are shallow and the connection between the pile and the superstructure is complex and challenging. With funding from Caltrans, an ongoing Nevada project is aimed at developing standardized seismic details and a rational design method for these connections (PI: Sanders). Eight large or full-scale bridge connections utilizing 16” and 24” diameter columns are being tested and studied. Caltrans standard details have been used in smaller columns, but details for box-girder bridges were applied to larger columns due to a lack of existing methods for 24” diameter column-slab connections. Improved design details and analytical models have resulted from this study.

User Fee study could help state’s revenue Story by Dr. Zong Tian, Civil & Environmental Engineering

Dr. Zong Tian is leading a team of experts to conduct a comprehensive study on a Vehicle Miles of Travel (VMT) based user fee system. Phase I of the study was sponsored by the Nevada Department of Transportation, the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. The primary objective is to explore and evaluate a replacement source of revenue for the current fuel taxes to continue to efficiently and effectively operate, maintain and improve the roads and highways in Nevada. The research team is composed of faculty from several University and UNLV departments, including Political Science, Economics, Electrical Engineering, and Geography/Urban Planning. A VMT fee is not in addition to existing fuel taxes. It could simply replace existing fuel taxes, meaning that drivers would not be paying the tax when they purchase the fuel at the pump, instead they would be charged a fee based on the miles traveled. For example, if you pay $2.50 per gallon today at the gas station, in a VMT fee program, you would pay about $1.96 per gallon. This is because you would not be paying the 54 cents per gallon fuel tax. Instead you would pay in the form of a VMT fee. The reason behind this study is the constant decline in the state and federal highway revenues due to these and other major factors: • State and federal fuel taxes have not been increased since 1992/1993. Since that time, inflation has reduced the purchasing power of those taxes by approximately 50 percent. • Fuel tax revenue per gallon has remained the same regardless of price per gallon (approximately 54 cents per gallon in 1993 and the same 54 cents per gallon in 2010). • The use of alternative fuel vehicles is increasing and will accelerate in the future, leading to less fuel tax revenue for roads. • Fuel efficiency standards are being increased, further reducing fuel tax revenue. One of the major concerns from the public is privacy intrusion because of the need of travel information. In fact, technologies and VMT fee structure can be specifically designed to provide maximum privacy protection. For example, information of travel is stored only in an on-board device for fee calculation and payment purposes. No detailed time of day and place of travel is recorded and stored. Phase II of the study will start in August 2010 with a main focus of testing the protocol developed in Phase I.

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

infrastructure: the foundation for global prosperity

The Power System Grid: An Infrastructure Under Scrutiny Story by Dr. Mehdi Etezadi-Amoli & Dr. Yaman Evrenosoglu, Electrical & Biomedical Engineering

Our current high voltage power transmission grid is about 100 years old. It evolved from independent and regional vertically integrated systems to a very large interconnected system, which is also called “wide area synchronous grid”. The vertically integrated systems are those where the generation, transmission and distribution facilities are owned by one authority. If there is loss of generation or failure of transmission equipment, the customers do not have any choice and loss of power is inevitable. Simple operation and control are the main advantages of vertically integrated systems. The increasing demand and requirements for reliable power imposed by industrialization has resulted in the interconnection of the vertically integrated systems. The present interconnected systems can provide the backup power through tie-lines between various utilities and minimize the probability of interruption due to equipment failure or an abnormal condition. Presently, there are two major interconnections (Eastern and Western) and two minor interconnections (Quebec and Texas) in North America including the U.S. and Canada. To ensure the reliability of the bulk transmission in North America; North American Electric Reliability Corporation was founded in 1968 and restructured in 2006. NERC enforces the reliability rules on eight regional entities (Florida Reliability Coordinating Council, FRCC; Midwest Reliability Organization, MRO; Northeast Power Coordinating Council, NPCC; ReliabilityFirst Corporation, RFC; SERC Reliability Corporation, SERC;Southwest Power Pool, SPP; Texas Regional Entity, TRE and Western Electricity Coordinating Council,WECC) that span the US and Canada. Fig. 1: NERC Interconnections with regional reliability entities [1]

The introduction of wholesale electricity markets in 1990s coupled with the growth of electricity demand as well as the new generation facilities has resulted in a very large electric systems with power flows in different directions than originally anticipated when the interconnected system was designed. The North American Interconnection has approximately 900,000 MW of generation capacity and more than 300,000 km of high voltage (>110 kV) power transmission lines. This giant infrastructure has been used to meet the ever increasing demands by commercial, industrial and the residential customers. However, the upgrades on this infrastructure have not met the fast pace of increase in electric energy demand. Investment in new transmission facilities has declined steadily since 1975 at a rate of $117 million per year [2]. Due to this lack of investment, certain parts of the transmission grid are congested. Transmission congestion or bottlenecks occur when there is lack of transmission capability to allow all the requests to transfer electrical power over the existing grid and maintain acceptable safety margins for reliability [2]. Construction of high-voltage transmission facilities was assumed to increase by 6 percent (in line-miles) during 2002-2012. However, more transmission congestion is inevitable due to the expected 20 percent increase in electricity demand and generation capacity (in MW) [2]. The proliferation of renewable based generation (wind, sun, geothermal and small-scale hydro) will be possible only if the current grid is upgraded much faster than before. The operation of the grid will be more efficient and more reliable if the monitoring and operational techniques are revised through smarter schemes. Smart grid applications introduce better monitoring at transmission level and demand side management at distribution level. However, without solving the current congestion problems, neither renewable based power generation nor smart grid applications will provide sufficient reliable power to meet our projected electricity demand. The EBME Department is interested in the following advanced transmission technologies as identified by the Department of Energy [2]: • • • • • • • • •


Increased usage of underground cables. Computer-optimized compact transmission line configurations and tower designs. Increased usage of high voltage DC transmission (HVDC) for long distance transmission under ground/water. Proliferation of flexible AC transmission system (FACTS) devices to control flow of electricity without new transmission lines. Making the large scale energy storage devices a reality primarily to increase the proliferation of intermittent renewable based power generation. Controllable load through flexible customers. Increasing the percentage of small, distributed generation with conventional and renewable technologies. Enhanced power device monitoring. Proliferation of direct system state (node voltage and angle) sensors (phasor measurement unit - PMU) through a wide area measurement system (WAMS).

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

infrastructure: the foundation for global prosperity Enhancing the physical and cyber security of the transmission and distribution systems is also another challenge in addition to the application of advanced transmission technologies, proliferation of renewable based generation and smart grid applications. Renewable energy and smart grid applications is a focus area within the Electrical and Biomedical Engineering Department (EBME) at Nevada. The department offers 12 graduate and undergraduate level courses that deal will various issues regarding the grid and provides a BSEE degree with track in renewable energy. Four faculty members with industrial experiences and specialties in power systems and renewable energy areas teach these courses on a regular basis. REFERENCES: [1] North American Electrical Reliability Corporation (NERC),; [2] Department of Energy, Transmission Grid Study, 2002

Spent nuclear fuel transportation safety research thrives on campus Nuclear power plants produce electricity using uranium fuel, without generating greenhouse gases. Roughly one-fifth of the electric power consumed by households and businesses across the United States comes from this source. After the nuclear fuel has been in a reactor for a few years, certain compounds accumulate that make the fuel unsuitable for continued use. The fuel must be removed from the reactor, even though only a small percentage of the uranium has been consumed. The used or spent nuclear fuel is highly radioactive and generates heat. It is stored in underwater cooling pools for several years until its radioactivity and heat rates decrease to the point in can be placed into thick-walled dry casks. The cask may then be stored at the reactor site, or shipped to another location. The federal government has pursued a policy of transporting entire fuel assemblies to a permanent underground repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev., and isolating them there for tens of thousands of years. Recently, attention has been giving to recycling the unused materials within the spent fuel. This has the possibility of reducing both uranium consumption, and the amount of material that requires underground isolation. However, it may also require the development and construction of new Advanced Burner Reactors to use the recycled fuel. Whether disposal or recycling of spent fuel is ultimately chosen, the spent fuel assemblies must be transported away from reactor sites. Casks are designed to operate safely under both normal conditions of transport and hypothetical accident conditions. The Code of Federal Regulations (10CFR71) defines those accident conditions as the following sequence of events: a 30-ft (9 m) drop unto an unyielding surface, a 3-ft (1 m) drop onto a puncture bar, and full engulfment for 30 minutes in a 1475°F (800°C) fire. Manufacturers must demonstrate to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that after this series of events, their casks will assure containment of the spent fuel, shielding of the environment from radioactive exposure, and that no self-sustained nuclear reactions are possible. This demonstration may be made using results from physical tests and/or engineering analysis. The ability of fire simulation computer programs and other analysis tools to accurately predict the response of real casks under severe accident conditions must be demonstrated before they can be used with confidence.

A rail-cask sized pipe in a large jet fuel fire under light wind conditions

Since 1992, a group in the Mechanical Engineering Department has performed research into the thermal performance of spent nuclear fuel transport and storage casks under normal and fire accident conditions. This work has been supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the State of Nevada, and by private industry. These researchers have performed large scale fire tests in which they measured the temperature of a railcar-sized A CAFE simulation of the same fire. transport cask suspended in jet fuel fires. They used these measurements to benchmark and adjust Container Analysis Fire Environment (CAFE) simulations. CAFE is a computer code developed at Sandia National Laboratories that models the response of transport casks in severe fire environments. The group has then used CAFE to predict the response of real spent fuel cask in fires with a variety of sizes, durations, wind conditions, and locations relative to the cask. The group is currently using CAFE to predict the performance of a spent nuclear fuel truck cask to historical fire accidents, such as the Howard Street Tunnel Fire that took place in Baltimore Md., in 2001, and the Caldecott Tunnel Fire near Oakland, Calif., in 1982. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will use these results to help assess the adequacy of Federal Regulations used to assure the safety of nuclear waste transportation. Story by Dr. Miles Greiner, Mechanical Engineering

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

infrastructure: the foundation for global prosperity

Multifunctional Materials for Alternate Energy Technologies Story by Dr. Ravi Subramanian, Chemical & Metallurgical Engineering

Research in alternate energy materials and fuels has great potential for contributing to Nevada’s renewable energy landscape and infrastructure. This area is being developed by Dr. Ravi Subramanian’s research laboratory.

Dr. Ravi Subramanian in his lab

Dr. Subramanian has spent the last over 10 years understanding material properties that assist in driving energy production using catalytic, electro catalytic, and (photo) catalytic processes. He has several state-of-the-art energy materials characterization instruments to analyze (photo) electrochemical and (photo) catalytic properties. This instrumentation is part of the critical infrastructure in the Department of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering and College of Engineering. Dr. Subramanian has received funding for his research from DOE and DoD. His research has been published in high impact scientific journals and he holds two provisional patents on solar energy materials development.

Dr. Subramanian’s research lab focuses on the development of novel multifunctional materials and systems for energy conversion applications. Recently he has developed a technology that exploits solar energy to drive hydrogen production as well as solar-to-electric conversion. He has also developed a technology for producing hydrogen on the milli-scale. Such devices can find applications in defense, emergency response, and sensors. Dr. Subramanian also values intellectual infrastructure. He has been passionate about developing outreach programs with local schools, offering opportunities to undergraduate students in his research group, and providing them with opportunities to visit excellent international institutions. His research group has K-12 students, undergraduates, graduates and post-doctoral scholars working cohesively on alternate energy projects. He has been teaching a course in alternate energy to a multi-disciplinary group of students for a minor program in alternate energy started at the university recently. Dr. Subramanian has mentored undergraduate students and helped them obtain competitive awards within the campus. One of his key contributions to the university is the creation of a student organization called the Sustainable Energy Forum in 2008. The forums’ activities include promoting awareness about sustainable energy and organizing seminars by industry, academic, and policy experts in the energy sector. The forum has performed outreach through social networking sites such as Twitter® and Facebook® and is also attracting the attention of national organizations with similar interests (such as Greenpeace®). Dr. Subramanian strongly believes that these activities can offer chemical engineering students opportunities to develop balanced portfolios for future “green jobs” in the country.

Cloud Computing: Potential to change IT in exciting ways Story by Dr. Mehmet Gunes, Computer Science & Engineering

or a company. The main advantage of cloud computing is that the customers can avoid capital expenditure on hardware, software, and service but pay for only what they use to a cloud provider. Cloud computing concept is not much different from what rental car companies’ do, that is, customers pay for what they use instead of owning a car.

Cloud computing is a recent trend in the cyber world that has the potential to change the Information Technology by deploying cyber infrastructures. The basic idea in cloud computing is to move computing tasks from individual systems into the cloud, which provides hardware and software resources over the Internet. Cloud providers deploy computing, storage and network infrastructure and provide service assurances to its customers, either an individual


There are three levels of services that may be provided by cloud computing technology. The first one is the software as a service in which the vendor supplies the hardware infrastructure, the software product and the user interacts through a front-end portal. Services provide in this category can be anything from web-based email to inventory control system. The second approach is the platform as a service in which a set of software and product development tools are hosted on the provider’s infrastructure. Users develop their applications on the provider’s platform. Finally, infrastructure as a service provides virtual server instances with unique hardware resources on demand. Customers use the provider’s application program interface to access and configure their virtual servers as they need.

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

infrastructure: the foundation for global prosperity

With the advent of cloud computing as a new computing paradigm, flexible services can be transparently provided to users over the dynamic cloud environment where multiple systems interact. By tapping into the cloud infrastructure, users can gain fast access to bestof-breed applications and drastically boost computing resources in a cost-effective way. Institutions can also improve their information technology’s agility and reliability, and obtain device and location independence. This new approach to computing, which is a distributed computing platform where different systems interact, requires considerable cyber infrastructure deployment with new challenges. Issues researchers face range from privacy concerns to interoperability of interacting systems.

‘Nevada has a potential for a new economic boom. Lithium mining could be new gold rush for N. Nevada’ - Headline on News Channel 4, Thursday, July 8, 2010 Story by Dr. Gautam Priyadarshan, Chemical & Metallurgical Engineering

Lithium is a lightweight metal used in a wide range of consumer products: it is used in the medical industry as an anti-depressant; industrial uses include glass, ceramic and porcelain; and Lithium alloys are used in aviation industry. Lithium’s most relevant use today is in batteries, and with the increasing trend toward hybrid and all-electric cars, the demand, and the price of the lightweight metal are expected to go through the roof. Dr. Gautam Priyadarshan and Dr. Krishnan Raja who work with Dr. Mano Misra have developed a new potentially economically process for producing Lithium batteries. The lithium ion batteries available in today’s market use graphite as anode and LiCoO2 as cathode. These materials have limited energy storage capacity and cannot satisfy the high power demand required for the electric vehicle and power tool applications with a sufficient charge-discharge cycle life. Further, LiCoO2 is prone to be a fire hazard under fast charge-discharge conditions. Dr. Gautam and his team have developed a method for synthesizing self-ordered, vertically oriented, and free-standing Ti-Mn oxide nanotubes that show enhanced storage capacity, and faster kinetics for Li-ion diffusion. It is patent pending process developed by the University of Nevada, Reno. The proposed configuration of nanotubes shows specific energy of more than 1250 mWh/g with a reversible nominal capacity >500 mAh/g. Vertically oriented, free-standing, ordered arrays of nanotubes were observed on both phases of Ti-Mn alloy as seen in Fig 1 (a) and (b). The ability to charge and discharge at higher rates makes the material a potential candidate for batteries to be used in hybrid electric vehicle and power tools. The hybrid electric vehicle is a rapidly growing niche market. Considering the increase in oil prices, depletion of oil sources, and target emission levels of CO2, it is imperative that electrochemical energy conversion devices play a critical role in catering to the transportation needs of the society. Currently the potential use of Li-ion batteries in electric vehicles applications is limited by the requirements of high power and high energy. Fig.1 Microscopic images of the nanotubes. (A) SEM of top surface morphology of the nanotubular arrays after anodization and annealing; and (B) TEM image of the Ti-Mn oxide nanotubes(scale bar 100 nm)

This approach demonstrates that lithium ion batteries can meet the above market needs. In addition, the innovation can find application as an energy delivery medium in portable electronic devices because of its high specific energy capacity. Further, this innovation can also be used as an energy delivery device in implant applications because of its non-toxic nature.

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

infrastructure: the foundation for global prosperity

Surveying the Damage College of Engineering’s Gokhan Pekcan takes nine-day survey of Chile following massive earthquake as a member of a reconnaissance team for the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. Story by Mike Wolterbeek, University Media Relations

University of Nevada, Reno engineer and researcher Gokhan Pekcan is safely back in his office today after nine days of surveying damaged public buildings in earthquake-devastated Chile as a member of a reconnaissance team for the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. “The three of us had to move fast and report back to EERI in advance of a large team that just arrived in Chile,” he said. The large team will use his observations and directions to more thoroughly document the effects of the 8.8 earthquake. Pekcan and his two colleagues were in Chile through funding by EERI and Nevada’s College of Engineering to document damage to structures such as hospitals, post offices and other public buildings in an effort to see what can be learned about how buildings can be engineered to withstand earthquakes. He flew into Santiago and traveled south to Angol for a 1,000-mile round trip through areas with no running water, but surprisingly not as much damage as he expected. He said many resources had been restored, so there was water and gasoline available in many areas, but they went for four days without running water. “We were there to survey the interior of the buildings and how the nonstructural elements, such as partition walls, ceilings and pipes, were impacted by the earthquake,” Pekcan said. “We visited nine hospitals, wharfs and other facilities. I expected to see entire cities collapsed, but reinforced concrete structures with shear walls designed according to the modern design codes held up. The older adobe-type buildings collapsed as one would expect, but not totally collapsed so occupants were able to exit.” In the general scouting survey, he found that the buildings with design flaws, such as one four-story apartment he observed, fell down, as one would expect. Yet, a properly designed 24-story apartment building next to it didn’t collapse. Pekcan, a faculty member in the University’s civil and environmental engineering department, described one hospital that showed the benefits of new Chilean building codes and the evolution of improved earthquake-resistant design. “The older sections of the hospital received a large amount of damage, the more recent additions had less damage, and the new sections of hospital expansion showed only minor damage,” he said. While he was there, Pekcan experienced two large earthquakes, a 7.2 and a 6.9. “During the first we were in a small Zodiac boat surveying wharf damage and had to get to shore and scramble to high ground after tsunami warnings were posted. The second happened when we were surveying a moderately damaged paper plant,” he said. Recovery efforts for the public buildings, especially in the interiors of the buildings, were happening quickly, so he and his colleagues, Eduardo Miranda from Stanford University and Gilberto Mosqueda of the State University of New York at Buffalo, had to move fast to document the damage. “Our surveys have produced a lot of data and will likely feed into our research here at the University, and possibly even redirect our research progress, on the seismic performance of nonstructural systems,” he said. The project, headed at the University of Nevada, Reno by the dean of the College of Engineering, Manos Maragakis, is part of a multi-institution effort funded by the National Science Foundation. Another faculty member, Professor Ian Buckle, has been selected to lead an EERI team to study bridges in Chile. He is a faculty member in the civil and environmental engineering department and director of the Center for Civil Engineering Earthquake Research and the large-scale structures laboratory. The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute is a national, nonprofit, technical society of engineers, geoscientists, architects, planners, public officials and social scientists. EERI members include researchers, practicing professionals, educators, government officials and building-code regulators.


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

infrastructure: the foundation for global prosperity Lurking Danger from below Surface to Nevada Transportation Facilities Story by Dr. Raj V. Siddharthan, Civil & Environmental Engineering

Mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) walls are one of the most cost effective earth retaining structures used in transportation applications around the United States. The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) has constructed over 150 MSE walls, exclusively using metal reinforcements. These MSE walls are primarily located in the urban areas of Las Vegas and Reno. At two locations in Las Vegas, MSE wall soil reinforcements were found to have high amounts of corrosion. These two locations include the three MSE walls at the I-515/ Flamingo intersection, constructed in 1985 using welded wire fabric (WWF) that was not galvanized; the other MSE wall is at the I-15/Cheyenne intersection, constructed in 1998 using galvanized ribbed metal strips. The former wall reinforcement corrosion was found by accident during construction of a sound wall at the top of an MSE wall. In 2004, soon after the discovery of extensive corrosion, the Federal Highway Administration recommended the wall at this intersection be mitigated. A cast-in-place concrete tieback wall at great expense was constructed in front of the existing MSE wall to provide adequate support. Elevated levels of corrosion were also found by accident during demolition of a portion of an MSE wall for an expansion project at the I-15/Cheyenne intersection. Though galvanized steel was used, evidence of high corrosion was seen after only 8 years of service life. A UNR/UNLV research team that included Professors Raj V. Siddharthan and Barbara Luke undertook an investigation for NDOT to evaluate the extent of the MSE wall corrosion in Nevada walls.

The Nevada/UNLV investigation indicated that the corrosion rates at I-515/Flamingo and I-15/Cheyenne intersections were about 57 and 46µm/yr, respectively. These rates are substantially higher when compared with the corresponding average rate expected form AASHTO corrosion model for these 20-year and 8-year walls of only 15.3 and 6.8µm/ yr, respectively. This means that the walls have substantially reduced remaining life. It appears that corrosion is the most critical issue for NDOT’s existing MSE walls. It is possible that there are a number of other walls that may have advanced corrosion effects due to the backfill soils used. A major task of the study was to establish a priority list of other Nevada walls that need a close examination. A predictive model, based on the understanding of soil resistivity and soluble salts (specifically chlorides and soluble sulfates), has been developed to assist in the selection of MSE walls that need further investigation. A geotechnical asset management evaluation contrasts the cost scenario of wall failure, wall replacement due to accidental discovery as seen in this case study, and the proactive method of corrosion monitoring and management. Very few owners of MSE walls use monitoring as a management technique. However, this case study offers evidence that corrosion monitoring of buried geotechnical components is an effective tool that should be used. From a geotechnical asset management perspective, the NDOT study is of particular interest. The findings dictate the importance of a re-evaluation of design concepts and subsequent monitoring to ensure adequate wall performance throughout the anticipated design lives.

Planned Gift information If you are interested in providing for any aspect of the College of Engineering in your will or trust, please contact Melanie Perish at (775) 784-6433 or email her at We will be happy to work with you and your advisors on any planned gift or estate planning you would like to discuss.

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

infrastructure: the foundation for global prosperity

Environmental Engineering Infrastructure Abroad Have you ever considered how challenging your daily life would be without the basic infrastructure to provide clean drinking water and sanitation? Turn on the faucet ... nothing. In fact, there isn’t even a faucet. Nor is there a toilet. What would you do? How exactly would you live? Actually, billions of people worldwide experience these problems each and every day because they happen to live in an area without the resources to provide basic infrastructure. One of the biggest global public health challenges is providing drinking water and wastewater treatment to protect public health and maintain water quality in developing countries with limited economic resources. Students and faculty at the University care about this problem; in fact, they are actually doing something about it. Teams of students and faculty in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) and other departments at Nevada have been traveling annually to developing countries to enhance basic infrastructure since 2004. These teams have completed projects in Guatemala, Panama, Brazil, Mexico, India, Peru, Ecuador, and Kenya. These projects included construction of a medical clinic, construction of a primary school building, improvements in water supply systems, digging and drilling of wells for drinking water supply, improvements to roadways and drainage systems, installation of rainwater harvesting systems, construction of composting toilets, and performance of site assessments to plan for future trips. In addition, students and faculty have held informal training seminars on low technology techniques for water supply, drinking water treatment, wastewater treatment, and basic sanitation practices. Seminars have been delivered to public health officials as well as students in primary and secondary schools. Generally, eight and 15 people travel on each trip, lasting about two weeks. Most participants are Nevada students; however, local business people, consulting engineers, and medical professionals also are actively involved. So yes, you can go too! Since 2004, almost 120 people have traveled as a member of one of these infrastructure improvement teams. Funding for these outreach efforts is always a challenge though. University students are willing to bake cookies to raise money for the privilege of working on somebody else’s toilet 5,000 miles away. Students in the University chapter of Engineers Without Borders ( host an annual banquet to raise funds for some of the trips. In addition, some support was provided through the Sparks Centennial Sunrise Rotary Club. However, the vast majority of the trips are self-supported by the students and other participants. In almost every case, participants find these experiences to be extremely rewarding. Several students have gone on as many as three consecutive trips. These outreach activities provide invaluable opportunities and exposure for Nevada students to implement academic concepts from the classroom to improve the quality of life for others, while experiencing different cultures, peoples, and landscapes. For more information about upcoming events, you may contact Keith Dennett, Associate Professor in the CEE Department at 784-4056 or


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

infrastructure: the foundation for global prosperity Building Asphalt Roads in the 21st Century Story by Dr. Peter E. Sebaaly, Director of Western Regional Superpave Center

There are over four million miles of asphalt paved roads in the U.S. with the majority of these roads in need of maintenance and rehabilitation to meet the expected traffic demand. To keep up with these tasks, the asphalt roads industry in the U.S. employs several hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs. However, several issues are facing the asphalt road building industry during the 21st century: the two most pressing ones are conservation of energy and natural resources and becoming environmentally friendly. The production and construction of asphalt mixtures requires significant amounts of energy and consumes large quantities of natural resources, including asphalt and aggregates. When asphalt mixtures are produced both the asphalt and aggregates are heated to temperatures in the range of 300 to 350 degrees. Because of the need for such elevated temperatures, the final product is referred to as “Hot mixed asphalt (HMA)”. On the other, hand asphalt mixtures can be produced from 100 percent virgin materials or a combination of virgin and recycled materials. The recycled materials come from the millings of the olddeteriorated asphalt pavement. In other words, the existing asphalt pavement that is being rehabilitated must be milled. These millings can be either buried in landfills or recycled into the newly produced asphalt mix. It should be noted that the milled old asphalt pavement contains asphalt and aggregates.

The two pictures aboveshow the significant difference in the smoke generated by the production of HMA and WMA asphalt mixtures.

The 21st century delivered two promising new technologies to the asphalt pavements industry: the use of warm mix asphalt (WMA) and the use of recycled asphalt pavements (RAP). Both of these technologies encourage the building of environmentally friendly asphalt pavements or what is commonly referred to as: “Green Roads”. The production and construction of HMA mixtures are conducted at extremely elevated temperatures (300 – 350 degrees) which consume a significant amount of fuel and generate high dust and emissions. The Pavements/Materials Program in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is a member of a national group that is working to develop a technology by which asphalt mixtures can be produced and constructed at lower temperatures. This process is called Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA) and it is expected to reduce the production temperature to around 250oF and the construction temperature to around 200 degrees. These reductions in temperatures are expected to reduce CO2, CO, and NOX emissions by some 35 percent, reduce dust generation by 90 percent, and reduce fuel usage by around 35 percent. WMA is produced by incorporating additives or water into asphalt mixtures to allow production and placement of the mixture at temperatures that are well below the temperatures of conventional HMA.

The use of RAP in the production of asphalt mixtures has the potential of conserving large amounts of asphalt and aggregates. As the asphalt mix is aged in the pavement, its two main components experience some changes in properties and behavior. In fact, the asphalt experiences significant changes in properties while the aggregates only experience very minor variations. Even though the asphalt experiences significant changes in its properties, it is still a valuable material that can be effectively modified and re-used. The main issue is how to identify the necessary modifications to meet the requirements and specifications of the project. The Pavements/ Materials Program has been actively working on new technologies to identify the critical properties of the asphalt and aggregates in the RAP and to define the appropriate methods for modifying these properties to meet the requirements of the new project. Recent efforts have concluded that up to 15 percent of RAP can be used in the production of the new asphalt mixture without any modification to the components and 30 percent of RAP can be used with minor modifications to the asphalt alone. Combining the energy savings realized from the use of WMA technology and the savings of natural resources (i.e., asphalt and aggregates) by incorporating RAP materials can lead to great overall savings and environmentally friendly asphalt roads which will be the landmark of building asphalt roads in the 21st century. The Pavements/Materials Program in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is in the forefront of both technologies. A group of 20 graduate students and 4 faculty are actively working on research projects funded by the Nevada DOT, Washoe RTC, FHWA, and private industry to investigate better technologies to build Green Roads. Recently, these two technologies have been implemented locally. In June 2009, a WMA test trip was placed along Chism Street in Reno, Nevada. The WMA mix was produced at the Granite Construction Inc. plant in Lockwood, Nevada using the Ultrafoam® technology. Approximately 900 tons of WMA was produced for this project and placed into a thickness of six inches. Additionally, to increase the potential for savings, a 15 percent recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) was incorporated into the WMA mix.

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

chemical and metallurgical engineering

Chair’s Message The Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering (CME) Department is pleased to welcome Dr. Hongfei Lin, a new faculty member, to the department. Dr. Lin joined the department on July 1. An announcement of Dr. Lin’s background is presented on page 34. Professors Charles Coronella and Victor Vasquez (CME Department) have developed a new process for converting wastewater sludge into a renewable fuel. With funding from the California Energy Commission, they developed a low-temperature fluidized-bed sludge dryer, which resulted in a patent application. The University of Nevada, Reno’s Tech Transfer Office (TTO) sees good commercialization potential, and has contributed $110,000 to fund a small scale continuous demonstration, currently being tested on site at the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility. 20 pounds per hour of wet sludge will be dried continuously to produce three pounds per hour of dried fuel. The PIs plan a much larger demonstration next year, to process one ton per hour of sludge. The TTO hopes to license the technology to an engineering firm sometime in 2011. Professors Jeffrey LaCombe and Charles Coronella (CME Department), along with Professor Eric Wang (Mechanical Engineering Department), have been awarded a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for the establishment of the E-Scholars scholarship program for undergraduates interested in pursuing careers in energy engineering at the University. The program was created to provide financial, academic and professional development support for approximately 20 incoming freshmen, with four-year continual support geared towards students with demonstrated financial need. Additional support will be given through study skills training, tutoring, organized peer study groups, field trips, demonstrations, exposure to industry visitors, and internship opportunities. Dr. Alan Fuchs, Chair

The program is designed to target untapped areas of Nevada’s potential technology workforce, by emphasizing support for academicallytalented students with financial need, and students from under-represented demographic groups in the engineering professions. These include first-generation college students, females, ethnic minorities, and students with disabilities. This scholarship program will be an important mechanism for supporting Chemical and Materials Engineering students who are interested in the emerging fields of renewable energy. Renewable energy is poised to become an important component of Nevada’s economy in the near future, and this program will help train the future workforce for these jobs. Further information can be found at the E-Scholars program website: ( The University of Nevada, Reno Fellowship Program in Materials and Thermal Science for Nuclear Power is a $400,000 grant for four years received by Drs. Dev Chidambaram (Materials Science and Engineering) and Miles Greiner (Mechanical Engineering). This grant is funded by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), an independent agency created by Congress in 1974 to enable the nation to safely use radioactive materials for beneficial civilian purposes while ensuring that people and the environment are protected. The NRC regulates commercial nuclear power plants and other uses of nuclear materials, such as in nuclear medicine, through licensing, inspection and enforcement of its requirements. This grant will initiate a Fellowship Program in Materials and Thermal Science for Nuclear Power that supports outstanding students to earn graduate degrees at Nevada. The goal is to increase the number and quality of students receiving MS and Ph.D. degrees at Nevada who are able to support the design, construction, operation, and regulation of nuclear facilities, and the safe handling of nuclear materials. Fellows will spend one summer at the NRC, a National Laboratory, or an industrial nuclear facility. This will allow them to gain work experience and develop professional contacts, which will help them find an appropriate nuclear related professional placement after graduation.

Engineering Graduates Still See Highest Salary Offers The Sacramento Business Journal (7/16, Johnson) reports, "Local engineering students should feel hopeful from a national finding released Thursday that recent engineering graduates are earning the top pay among the college class of 2010." The summer 2010 salary survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that "engineering degrees account for four of the five most highly paid majors among the college class of 2010," with "petroleum engineers receiving the highest starting salary offer - $74,799. Chemical engineers were next at $65,628," followed by computer science students, computer engineers, and electrical/ electronics engineers. "While the salaries are high among the class of 2010, the average salaries actually lost ground for all but chemical engineering graduates, the association said”, the Journal reported. A NACE official quoted in the article said, "Those high starting salary offers reflect the uneven supply and demand that exists for these graduates, even in the current economy." To read the full article by the NACE, please go to their link:


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

chemical and metallurgical engineering Renewable energy technology demonstration phase begins Photo and Story by Mike Wolterbeek, University Media Relations

A successful University of Nevada, Reno renewable energy research project is moving from the lab to the real world in a demonstration-scale system to turn wastewater sludge into electricity. The new patent-pending, low-cost, energy-efficient technology is scheduled to be set up in the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility next month following the recent signing of an interlocal agreement with the cities of Reno and Sparks. “Our plan is to test the unit by about May 15,” Chuck Coronella, principle investigator for the research project and an associate professor of chemical engineering, said. “We’re designing, building and assembling a continuous-feed system that will ultimately be used to generate electricity. We’ll run experiments throughout the summer, creating a usable dried product from the sludge.” The experimental carbon-neutral system will process 20 pounds of sludge per hour, drying it at modest temperatures into solid fuel that will be analyzed for its suitability to be used for fuel through gasification and, in a commercial operation, ultimately converted to electricity. The refrigerator-size demonstration unit will help researchers determine the optimum conditions for a commercial-sized operation. “The beauty of this process is that it’s designed to be all on site, saving trucking costs and disposal fees for the sludge,” Victor Vasquez, a University faculty member in chemical engineering said. “It uses waste heat from the process to drive the electrical generation. It also keeps the sludge out of the landfill.”

Drs. Chuck Coronella and Victor Vasquez

Estimates, which will be further refined through the research, show that a full-scale system could potentially generate 14,000 kilowatthours per day to help power the local reclamation facility. The demonstration-scale project is a collaboration with the cities of Reno and Sparks, operators of the wastewater plant. The city councils signed an interlocal agreement recently to allow the research to integrate into their operation, providing space for the experiments, the dewatered sludge and other resources to help make the project a success. “Economically, this makes sense,” Coronella said. “Treatment plants have to get rid of the sludge, and what better way than to process it onsite and use the renewable energy to lower operating costs.” Coronella added, “This demonstration gives the University an opportunity to involve students in development of waste-to-energy technology, which ultimately will benefit the community. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.” Installation of the system will begin in April, and the system will be tested mid-May. The project will last until fall 2010. The University’s Technology Transfer Office, with assistance from the College of Business, is supporting the project with plans to make the system available to hundreds of communities around the country that operate water treatment plants. For example, there are approximately 700,000 metric tons of dried sludge produced annually in California municipalities, which would sustainably generate as much as 10 million kilowatt-hours per day. The project is funded through the Energy Innovations Small Grant Program, the California Energy Commission and the Department of Energy. This phase of the project was selected for funding by the Tech Transfer Office under a DOE grant to support transferring technologies from the lab to practical application. The project is one of many of the University’s renewable energy research areas that have commercial potential to help Nevada’s economy grow.

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

civil and environmental engineering

Chair’s Message One focus of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department over the past year has been to improve the pool of graduate student applicants to the program. In the spring of this year, the CEE Department hosted an inaugural Spring Graduate Student Visit. This event involved bringing several candidate graduate students from across the U.S. for a two day visit to our program. The visiting students spent the first morning listening to research presentations from existing graduate students and visiting our laboratories. They spent the afternoon touring the campus and having individual meetings with faculty. The second day of the event was spent (by the visiting students, existing students, and faculty) skiing at Mt. Rose. The event was a great success and most of the students who visited will be joining our graduate program this fall. The CEE Department is also pleased that Reno Iron Works has offered to provide financial support for this program in spring 2011.

Dr. Amy E. Childress, Chair

The CEE Department is pleased to announce that a new faculty member, Dr. Keri Ryan will be joining the Department this fall. Dr. Ryan is an outstanding addition to our world-class structures faculty. A brief announcement of Dr. Ryan’s past accomplishments and future goals at the University are described on page 35.

The CEE Department is also pleased to have begun the construction of the Advanced Transportation Engineering Laboratory. This facility will not only support the many new courses in transportation engineering (CEE 362 – Transportation Engineering, a required course for undergraduate, CEE 463 – Traffic Engineering, a technical elective course, and five new graduate courses) but also the research of Dr. Zong Tian’s research group. Dr. Tian is leading a diversified research effort focused on addressing imminent transportation needs and issues. The Transportation Research Group has grown to also include an adjunct faculty, two post-doctoral researchers, five Ph.D. students and three M.S. students. Research awards have exceeded $2 million. The research projects cover a wide range of transportation-related topics and involve close collaborations across the campus and other states, truly reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of this program. The Advanced Transportation Engineering Laboratory is envisioned to be a major research and education facility in the region focusing on traffic signal control systems. Approximately 16 computer stations will be equipped with advanced traffic simulation, transportation planning, and highway design software; approximately 20 NEMA and other advanced traffic signal controllers will be connected with computer stations using hardware-in-the-loop technology, to allow testing real signal control solutions in a laboratory environment. Projection screens or TV monitors will provide live traffic video feeds.

Dr. Zong Tian (center) and the first two Ph.D. graduates of the Transportation Engineering program, Xuan Wang (left) and Ozlem Ozmen (right), at graduation in December 2009.

Engineering on Capitol Hill On Nov. 4, 2009, faculty members from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at University of Nevada, Reno were invited to an Educational Technology Showcase sponsored by the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Science Foundation. Nevada U.S. Sen. Harry Reid attended the event on Capitol Hill that consisted of many hands-on activities used to teach math, science, and engineering to K-12 students. Drs. Ian Buckle, Sherif Elfass, and Kelly Lyttle used a table-top version of a shake table from the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) Large Scale Structures Laboratory to demonstrate how different construction technologies can reduce the impact of earthquakes on buildings. Senator Harry Reid with Drs. Sherif Elfass, Ian Buckle, and Kelly Lyttle from the University of Nevada, Reno, and Dr. Kim Vidoni from the Nevada Department of Education at a showcase of educational technology.


The miniature shake table used at the showcase is a tool for education, outreach, and training activities to engage students in the field of Structural Engineering. The NEES Laboratory at the University of Nevada has four full-size shake tables that are used to research the effects of earthquakes on buildings and bridges. To learn more about the Large Scale Structures Laboratory, visit Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

civil and environmental engineering Engineering celebrates 25 years of shaking things up

Story by Mike Wolterbeek, University Media Relations

The office swayed and jolted from side-to-side, the floor heaved upwards as the “earthquake” shook from below sending books off shelves, and pictures off the walls in the inaugural run of the new shake table this week at the University of Nevada, Reno’s earthquake simulation engineering lab. It was part of a celebration of 25 successful years of constructing and destroying large-scale buildings and bridges in the name of science, as well as the unveiling of the new 14-foot by 14-foot, triaxial 50-ton capacity shake table that moves in six different directions (horizontally in two directions, vertically, and pitch, yaw, and roll rotations). “This is a wonderful occasion,” Milt Glick, president of the University of Nevada said. “We’re recognizing the past and the good things that have happened and at the same time showing the future.” “The new, fourth shake table will greatly enhance our ability to more accurately represent the motions of an earthquake,” Ian Buckle, director of the Large Scale Structures Laboratory at the University said. The new table will be used individually as well as with the other three shake tables in the earthquake simulation lab for large-structure experiments such as a four-span bridge test to be conducted in the near future, he said. “For the demonstration of the new table, we built a room on the shake table, a typical office with furniture in it, and subjected it to three ground motions: last year’s magnitude 4.7 Mogul quake on the outskirts of Reno, the magnitude 6.7 Northridge, Calif. quake, and an extremely violent seismic motion used to qualify industrial equipment,” he said.” There was damage.” Buckle and his crew built the office with two partial walls atop the shake table so the audience could view the dramatic results of the new $2.5 million table at the College of Engineering and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Large-Scale Structures Laboratory. The innovative table was designed and assembled by the engineering earthquake research team at the University with monetary support from the National Science Foundation and the Federal Highway Administration. Through the Center for Civil Engineering Earthquake Research’s shared-use policies, research is carried out for federal and state agencies, the private sector and non-profit organizations. In addition to highway bridges, the Center’s current research efforts include the study of non-structural components in buildings and alternative building materials. “The earthquake research done here at the University and in this laboratory has discovered new knowledge, stretched intellectual boundaries and at the same time provided useful research,” Glick said. “So when there’s a bridge problem in San Francisco, they call upon our faculty to help them solve the design problem. And when they want to design a safer building, where do they come? They come here.” Almost 20 academic, research, and administrative faculty, research scientists, and technicians are affiliated with CCEER, and about 30 doctoral and masters students are engaged in research projects under the Center’s umbrella. Total research funding in 2009 was about $3.5 million. In its 25-year history the Center has published more than 160 technical reports which describe the results of these activities. In the past 10 years, major research grants and contracts acquired by the University’s Center for Civil Engineering Earthquake Research totaled $38.5 million. The Large-Scale Structures Laboratory is a member of the George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) established by the National Science Foundation in 2004. As a NEES Equipment Site, the Laboratory is equipped with four, large-scale, high-performance shake tables; the only laboratory in the world of its kind. To view or use a short video about the new shake table and to see it in action use this link: shake_table_VNR_2.mp4 For more information about the University of Nevada earthquake engineering program and the large-scale structures lab use these links:, and

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

civil and environmental engineering

Earthquake News

Story by Mike Wolterbeek, University Media Relations

2009 to date has been a busy year for our resident earthquake specialists. From Haiti to Chile, the images have been flying over the internet and news channels and this has led to important work being shared by the faculty at UNR. Dr. Ian Buckle, director of the Large Scales Laboratory and Foundation Professor, appeared on the program, Naked Science, which was shown on the National Geographic channel, to discuss the earthquake swarm in the Reno area. He was also prominently featured on Fox News Friday in an effort to better understand why the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti caused such terrible devastation to the impoverished country’s many structures. University civil engineering faculty created a simulation for a Fox News team to illustrate why construction featuring below-code materials and engineering can be fatal. Dr. Buckle helped explain the difference between using materials that can be reinforced against natural threats such as hurricanes and earthquakes. The demonstration showed masonry and wood that toppled over without the proper reinforcement. By adding vertical and horizontal placement of rebar, fortifying masonry with concrete rather than sand and using ties and braces for frame construction – practices that are common in the United States and in many modern nations – flexibility and strength of a structure are greatly enhanced, Buckle noted. Dr. Ian Buckle

“For Haiti, we need to figure out how to build places where people live and go school that are good for hurricanes, and good for earthquakes,” Buckle said.

The clip was featured on Fox News on January 15, 2010, as part of three live feeds shown to the country and in addition, the footage was sent to affiliates around the country. To find out more about the Haitian relief effort, go to:

110-foot concrete bridge withstands 8.0 earthquake simulation Story by Mike Wolterbeek, University Media Relations

After a succession of eight separate earthquake simulations, a 110-foot long, 200-ton concrete bridge model at the University of Nevada, Reno withstood a powerful jolting, three times the acceleration of the disastrous 1994 magnitude 6.9 Northridge, Calif. earthquake, and survived in good condition. “This is very satisfying to see how well the design and components worked,” Saiid Saiidi, principal investigator for the project and University of Nevada civil engineering professor said after the final test on this bridge Tuesday afternoon. “We estimated bridge failure at 8 inches of deflection, which is a lot, but we had 10 inches of deflection in the support columns and the bridge remained standing and usable, even with considerable internal stresses.” The bridge model is shaken with bidirectional forces to realistically simulate an earthquake. The researchers mimic the Northridge earthquake using recorded data of the actual earthquake. Computer programs direct the movements of the three large hydraulically-controlled shake tables in the University’s world-renowned, large-scale structures laboratory. “We know the bridge would have survived that quake in good condition and still be usable,” Saiidi said. The University of Nevada research team is experimenting with and testing a number of materials and innovations to potentially revolutionize seismic design of future bridges to help protect lives, prevent damage and avoid bridge closure even when there is a strong earthquake. “We anticipate these designs and components would be used in future bridge and overpass construction,” Saiidi said. The 11-foot-high, four-span concrete bridge model was the third experiment in a series of these tests using innovative composite materials and construction to give superior seismic performance for bridges and highway overpasses.


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

civil and environmental engineering “What is extraordinary about the construction techniques tested with this bridge is the use of glass and carbon fibers to support the bridge, precast columns, segmental columns and special steel pipe-pin connections in a high seismic setting,” Saiidi said. Three video views of the final test: (1) (2) (3) http://nees. The test was attended by about 50 engineers and industry representatives, including Caltrans chief of earthquake engineering and several senior bridge engineers from Caltrans and NDOT. About 100 viewers from around the country observed the test live via the Web. The experiment is funded by a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. It is part of a larger multi-university project within the George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) research program. The Large-Scale Structures Laboratory is a member of NEES, established by the National Science Foundation in 2004. As a NEES Equipment Site, the laboratory is equipped with four, large-scale, high-performance shake tables; the only laboratory in the world of its kind.

Structures Laboratory Prepares for Shake Table Test of Curved Bridge A project is underway at the University of Nevada, Reno to investigate the seismic effects of multi-span curved bridges using a 2/5 scale model of a three-span bridge. The model will be 145 ft long with an 80 ft radius at the centerline and it will rest on four shake tables in the laboratory. The superstructure consists of three steel girders and a concrete deck that is 12 ft wide. The testing of this model is part of a larger project investigating seismic resilience, funded by the Federal Highway Administration. Nine different configurations will be tested to examine different components, including column design (with and without conventional 3D Rendering of the Curved Bridge with Trucks on Top columns), abutment design (with and without backfill behind the abutments), seismic isolation (with and without response modification devices), and the effects of live load (with and without trucks on the superstructure). This specimen was designed by a team of eight graduate students under the supervision of three professors in civil engineering. Numerical modeling is near completion and construction of the superstructure and four columns is underway. Testing is scheduled to begin early in 2011 and continue for approximately ten months. Currently, there are no design regulations on horizontally curved bridges and the data from this project will provide new insight on their behavior under seismic loading. The results of the research will be incorporated into future industry design codes. Ultimately, this will help structural engineers design curved bridges to withstand the effects of strong earthquakes. For further information, please visit the website at Story by Kelly Lyttle, CCEER Program Coordinator

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

computer science and engineering

Chair’s Message During the 2009-2010 academic year the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Department significantly enhanced its research and educational programs. An external review of CSE graduate programs undertaken at the beginning of the academic year and conducted by Professor Steven Tanimoto from the University of Washington provided a good start and great impetus. The review was positive and had good input and suggestions. A new strategic plan for CSE was finalized with aggressive but realistic vision, goals and objectives. A renewed emphasis on graduate education in particular on the Ph.D. program was adopted. This was also designed to enhance CSE undergraduate programs by introducing more research at the undergraduate level and improve the reputation and funding profile of the department. Several new courses were introduced and the curriculums of our educational programs were brought into better focus and alignment to mirror faculty strengths. Four specialization areas, namely intelligent systems, games and simulations, software systems, computer and network systems, are now common to CSE degree programs at the B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. levels. During the past year CSE faculty and students engaged in several significant research projects that received substantial external funding setting new departmental records for awards and expenditures. Faculty members Sergiu Dascalu and Fred Harris worked on two NSF funded, high profile projects related to climate change and infrastructure. Other projects that received attention from the media and funding agencies include Eelke Folmer’s work on computer games accessibility for the disabled, as well as works related to robotics carried out by Monica and Mircea Nicolescu, motion planning and cyber physical systems carried out by Kostas Bekris, serious games for the military carried out by Sushil Louis, computer vision carried out by George Bebis, networks and security carried out by Murat Yuksel and Mehmet Gunes, cyber security carried out by Bobby Bryant and Yaakov Varol, along with their teams of graduate students and post doctoral fellows. Dr. Yaakov Varol, Chair

As in past years CSE faculty organized the International Symposium in Visual Computing and the UNR-IGT Game Symposium. Both were highly successful and very well attended. Several undergraduate and graduate students mentored by CSE faculty members entered the Governor’s Business Plan Competition and one team received second place award in the graduate category. A new initiative that CSE undertook this past year was to offer a special summer engineering camp called Robotics and Digital Interactive Games Camp, designed for students ages 13-17. This one week long camp was over subscribed soon after it was announced, and by all accounts was very successful.

Robotics and Digital Interactive Games Summer Camp This summer, for the first time ever, middle and high school students from across the state had the chance to experience firsthand the excitement and challenges of cutting edge computer science and engineering. In June, the College of Engineering and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering held the first “Robotics and Digital Interactive Games” camp for aspiring engineers. Throughout the week, campers learned how to write their own computer programs, creating code to control robots and designing their own video games. The excitement didn’t just stop at the keyboard though. In the middle of the week, the campers traveled to the Desert Research Institute, where they saw how Nevada’s computer scientists are using the latest advances in computation to tackle some of the state’s most pressing environmental concerns. Campers also saw DRI’s “CAVE,” an immersive 3D virtual reality system that students used to fly through the solar system and around the state.

“Marie” the humanoid robot

And last but not least, the students were introduced to some of the robots that call the University of Nevada home. They met the Pioneer robots that researchers use to study human-robot interaction, the Robotics Research Lab’s “pet” robot dog, and the latest addition to the lab, a humanoid robot named Marie.

Excited by the campers’ response, the Computer Science and Engineering Department is already working on next year’s camp, and anticipates that it will become a tradition for the Department, the College of Engineering and the community at large.


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

computer science and engineering Program focuses research on ‘intelligent’ computers Story by Aaron Benedetti, Nevada Sagebrush

Kostas Bekris, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno, said he’s already preparing to get to work on a new grant opportunity. Three weeks ago, the National Science Foundation granted Bekris nearly $600,000 to conduct his proposed research on cyber-physical systems, which are intelligent computing networks that aim to reproduce human decision-making processes. Such systems, Bekris said, have applications in manufacturing, transportation, power grids and biosensors. “You have to use the tools of computer science in the real world, to perform a real task,” Bekris said. He illustrated the point with respect to transportation networks, saying that an intelligent computer could potentially use its sensors to detect traffic congestion and provide an ambulance driver with the most feasible route to an emergency. Bekris’s research will involve developing algorithms that would control such a computer system as well as studying methods of planning and coordinating the system, he said.

Grant Details • Principal investigator: Kostas Bekris, Computer Science & Engineering • Research: Cyber-physical systems • Grant: $599,970, funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 • Duration: Sept. 1, 2009, through Aug. 31, 2012 (est.)

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funded the grant. A total of $1.2 million in economic stimulus money was allotted for the cyber-physical systems research at UNR and environmental research at the Desert Research Institute. This marks the first year that the NSF has made funds available in the research area of cyber-physical systems. Bekris said he was “very happy” upon learning that his proposal had been accepted by the NSF, especially since the organization granted research funds to only 10 percent of the proposals it received last year. Bekris began teaching at UNR in fall 2008, after receiving his Ph.D. in computer science from Rice University. “My adviser had involved me in writing proposals in the past, so I had some experience,” Bekris said. “Of course, coming to a new environment things are different, but everyone in the department was very helpful here. The NSF really wants new faculty to apply. It’s a way to build a longer-term research plan.”

Bekris said the grant provides for up to three graduate students and three undergraduates to assist with research. Alexis Oyama, a 21-year-old undergraduate majoring in computer science, will collaborate with Bekris during the fall and spring semesters. He plans to graduate in May and pursue a master’s degree afterward. “Working with the professors is a good experience,” Oyama said. “You get to know the researchers. And when you’re involved in research you get to know the technical things.” Oyama collaborated with Bekris on other research projects over the summer, and said Bekris “really pushes you, but it’s a really friendly environment.” Yaakov Varol, professor and chair of the department of computer science and engineering, said that undergraduate and graduate research collaboration is “a significant element of our educational mission.” “We don’t have sufficient funding from the state to allow us to hire all the good students we want to hire,” Varol said. “We need help carrying out this research. Funding enables us to hire these students.” Both Bekris and Varol said they believe Bekris’s recent grant could lead to more opportunities for successful and significant research at the university. Cyber-physical systems research, they said, relates to a number of other research areas including renewable energy and the efficiency of energy transmission via power grids. Varol noted that UNR also funds programs such as the interdisciplinary renewable energy minor and the Renewable Energy Center. “This is an opportunity for the university to bring together different scientists and have practical consequences,” Bekris said. “We have, obviously, multiple research activities at any time,” Varol said. “But I view this as a very positive development. For one thing, this is a new program that will have proposals in future years for funding. Usually success follows success.” Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

computer science and engineering

Symposium focuses on emerging games and gaming Story by John Trent, Senior Editor, Integrated Marketing

Similarities, key differences and what the next generation of computer games and gaming engineers can take away from each industry highlighted the discussions during the annual IGT-University of Nevada, Reno Computer Science and Engineering Symposium, held on the Nevada campus in May. There were over 70 people who registered and attended the Symposium, the majority being employees from games and gaming related industries in Nevada. Keynote speaker Chris Satchell, the chief technology officer and executive vice president for game platforms and development at International Game Technology, emphasized the key intersections between emerging games and gaming during his hour-long presentation in the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center. Satchell spoke from experience, as his distinguished career has straddled both gaming and development of games. Prior to joining IGT, he enjoyed a long career in video games, culminating as chief technology officer for Microsoft Xbox 360 business. “Gaming and games are siblings, but they’re not twins,” he said. “Each industry obviously has many similarities, but it’s in the differences where we can often find potential for greater growth and creativity.” Satchell told the assembled audience of faculty and students, as well as alumni and visitors from across campus and industry that games and gaming have much in common, from interactivity, entertainment, experience-based platforms, design-driven products, an audience of committed users, as well as a certain element of social stigmatization. “Both industries have all of these,” he said. “Both have all of these aspects.” Yet, Satchell said, by contrasting games with gaming and vice-versa, opportunities for improvement are available for both. “Gambling games can teach video games how to create ‘no-failure’ products,” he said, noting that whenever IGT creates a new game, the expectation of its customers is that it will never fail and will have a very long life cycle. Video games, by contrast, he said, have very few expectations regarding durability or longevity. The core video gamers, he said, fully expect that this year’s innovative game will be replaced in a few years by a superior, higher quality product. On the other hand, he said, video games provide an excellent model for collaboration and teamwork. He said during the creation of a state-of-the-art game, it is not uncommon to have “up to 300 artists, by pure necessity, working together. They’ve learned, and the culture has instilled, a constant need to collaborate in these huge teams on a new game. The gambling/gaming industry is starting to learn this idea, but can still do more in this area.” He said both industries can benefit from maintaining high graphic and creative standards, while at the same time working to keep the consumer’s experience simple and unfettered. “Around 2000 or 2003 we had a great idea for our games: tutorials,” said Satchell, whose quick-moving presentation included numerous joking asides, which seemed to resonate well with the audience. “The games had gotten so complex that it was felt we needed tutorials in order to explain how to play them.” He noted how the tutorials became a “built-in” barrier for gamers to enjoy their games. “Then we got wise,” he said. “What’s fun about having to learn about playing a game? Nothing. It became too complicated. In the gambling world, they know this instinctively. There aren’t a lot of barriers to enjoying a good gaming machine. They design all of their products accordingly, which is a real strength.” He said that during his time working in both worlds, he found there are many surprises and “a-ha” moments. He said that although teamwork is a must for the development of games, it often doesn’t translate or is transferred easily through an ultra-competitive marketplace. “When you walk into a casino, it actually works,” he said. “We are a very competitive industry in gaming. You have to compete very hard for market share. But when I walked onto a casino floor and saw that IGT and Bally’s games could stand side by side together and work on the floor, that blew me away.


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

computer science and engineering “Now, in video games, when was the last time you ever saw Sony and Microsoft inter-operate in a similar fashion? I think it’s a very good thing that this happens in the gaming industry.” Satchell passed along some figures regarding the two industries. He said that the traditional demographic for video games, 21 to 35 year old males, is “shifting to a much broader demographic.” While the gaming world continues to be anchored by Baby Boomers, he said “Generation X is starting to gamble, which is adding an entirely new element.” In the future, he said, it will not be uncommon to see people “playing on the go,” as the rise of social and mobile computing will provide opportunities for both industries to create new ways for individuals to utilize their products. He added that “Gamer Scores” will continue to fuel a rise in the use of products in games and gaming. For video games, the concept reinforces the notion of community that has become so important to members of Generations Y and Z, while for gaming aficionados, keeping track of scores and milestones “give people a feel that their gaming experience is adding up to something and means something.” Before Satchell’s keynote, Manos Maragakis, dean of the College of Engineering, welcomed those attending by noting that events like the IGT-University Computer Science and Engineering Symposium help reinforce the college’s expertise in the field. “Gaming engineering and many other aspects of our Department of Computer Science and Engineering are central to our plans for growth,” he said. “Computer Science and Engineering is a program that started from local need and it has exemplified an excellent University-industry partnership. “We want this program to continue to serve as an example to our college.” In addition to Satchell, speakers during the IGT-University Computer Science and Engineering Symposium included Dr. Ioannis Pavlidis, Eckhard-Pfeiffer Professor and director of the Computational Physiology Laboratory at the University of Houston, whose talk was entitled, “A Novel Way to Conduct Human Studies and Do Some Good” and Dr. Michael Neff, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Program in Technocultural Studies at UC-Davis, whose talk was entitled, “Making Characters Gesture with Personality.” The symposium also included a panel discussion on “The Future of Gaming,” which included Andrew Kertesz of IGT, Walt Eisele of Bally Technologies, Patrick Crawford of Gametech and William Eadington of the University of Nevada, Reno.

Motion Analysis CEO highlights Computer Science colloquium Tom D. Whitaker, chairman and CEO of Motion Analysis Corp., presented “Going Virtual: Medicine, Movies, Broadcast and Training” as part of a Department of Computer Science and Engineering colloquium on April 9 2010, in the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center on campus. Whitaker has served as chairman and CEO of Motion Analysis Corp. (MAC) for more than 20 years. Motion Analysis Corp. is the world’s largest manufacturer of high performance optical instrumentation systems that test and measure the movement of objects. The Santa Rosa, Calif.-based company has offices throughout the United States as well as in London, Tokyo and Beijing. The company’s systems are used in advanced computer graphic production applications for animation in full feature movies, video games and broadcast. In 2005, MAC was awarded four technical achievement Oscars by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Tom D. Whitaker Chairman and CEO Motion Analysis Corp.

Whitaker holds a B.S.E.E. degree from the University of Nevada and an M.B.A. degree from the University of California. The colloquium is part of a series jointly sponsored by the Departments of Computer Science, Electrical and Biomedical Engineering and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. Story by University News Staff

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

computer science and engineering

Video game accessibility project to help blind children exercise Photo and Story by Mike Wolterbeek, University Media Relations

VI Fit, a project in the computer science and engineering department, is designed to help children who are blind become more physically active and healthy through video games. The humancomputer interaction research team in the computer science and engineering department has developed motion-sensing-based tennis and bowling exergames that can be downloaded for free at “Lack of vision forms a significant barrier to participation in physical activity and consequently children with visual impairments have much higher obesity rates and obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes,” Eelke Folmer, research team leader and assistant professor in the computer science and engineering department, said. Exergames are a new type of video game that use physical activity as input and are considered powerful weapons in the fight against obesity. Unfortunately, exergames have not yet been accessible to children with visual impairments, although it is evident they could benefit from them the most.

Jose playing the game Pet-n-punch and Jacob playing VI Bowling

“Our games are adaptations of the popular Nintendo Wii Sports exercise games that have been modified so they can be played without visual feedback,” Folmer said. VI Tennis and VI Bowling are the first of several games to be made available. VI Tennis implements the gameplay of Wii sports tennis providing audio and vibrotactile cues that indicate when to serve and when to return the ball. It can be played against the computer or against a friend using two Wii remotes. “VI Tennis was evaluated at Camp Abilities in New York with 13 children who were blind,” Folmer said. “We found our game to engage children into levels of active energy expenditure that were high enough to be considered healthy, which shows the feasibility of using video games as a health-intervention method.” The gameplay of Wii sports bowling is implemented through VI Bowling with a novel motorlearning feature that allows players to find the direction in which to throw their ball using vibrotactile feedback. Audio and speech effects are used to indicate the result of each throw. VI Bowling was evaluated with six adults and was found to yield levels of active energy expenditure that are comparable to walking.

Researcher Eelke Folmer plays VI Fit tennis with Frieda Aizenman in a demonstration, at the Mathewson IGT Knowledge Center, of the exergame he and his team have developed with the idea of increasing physical activity for visually impaired children.

Compared to the general population, individuals with visual impairments have even fewer opportunities to engage in physical activities that provide the amounts and kinds of stimulation needed to maintain adequate fitness and support a healthy standard of living. Folmer and his team are exploring alternative forms of interaction that allow individuals with visual impairments to play exercise games and to increase their participation in physical activity. Folmer’s team includes: Tony Morelli, a doctoral candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno; John Foley, a faculty member in the physical education department and expert in movement studies in disability at State University of New York, Cortland; and Lauren Lieberman, a researcher in the Department of Kinesiology, Sports Studies and Physical Education at SUNY, Brockport who specializes in adapted physical education, especially children with sensory impairments. To play the VI Fit games, a user would need a Wii remote and a Windows PC with bluetooth support or a USB bluetooth dongle. The games can be downloaded using instructions at www. The games are not affiliated with or endorsed by Nintendo.


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

computer science and engineering Mars NASA speaker visits campus Story by John Trent, Senior Editor, Integrated Marketing

A top scientist in charge of mobility and robotics systems for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) gave a presentation on technology development related to NASA’s Mars Rover program on February 5 in the Scrugham Engineering Building on campus. Richard Volpe is manager of the Mobility and Robotic Systems Section at JPL. The section consists of a team of more than 80 robotics engineers who are doing research and spaceflight implementation of robotic systems for Roving, Digging, Ballooning, Drilling and other modes of in-situ planetary exploration. Such technology development has seen the maturation of key capabilities for deployment of robotic systems to space. Scientific investigation of Mars has been of primary importance with recent operation of the Mars Exploration Rovers and the Phoenix Lander, and construction of the 2011 Mars Science Laboratory rover. Mars, however, is not the only focus of the team’s ongoing efforts. Prototypes are under development for mobile habitats on the Moon, as well as aerial exploration of Titan and Venus. The presentation will also speak to mission infusion pathways for these challenging scenarios, as well as the most recent results from the Mars exploration experience. Volpe, in addition to managing the Mobility and Robotic Systems Section, is a member of JPL’s Science and Technology Management Committee, and has been a member of the 2007 Phoenix Mission Robotic Arm Team. From 2001-2004, Volpe served as manager of Mars Regional Mobility and Subsurface Access in JPL’s Space Exploration Technology Program Office. The seminar was organized by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering ( and the Northern Nevada IEEE. It was also made possibly by the Nevada Space Grant Consortium ( and the University’s Computer Vision Laboratory (

It’s top tier for University of Nevada in U.S. News Ranking Story by Jane Tors, University Media Relations

U.S. News and World Report issued its annual “best colleges” rankings April 20, 2010, and significant changes in their presentation and methodology this year resulted in a strong ranking for the University of Nevada, Reno. In the 2011 rankings of “best national universities,” the University ranks as a first tier school at number 191. For its annual rankings U.S. News surveyed 1,472 universities and colleges. The publication reports that about 90 percent participated and provided the requested data and, of those, 262 are listed as “best national universities” for 2011. “Being named to the top tier reflects the quality of what we offer, the students we attract, the quality of our faculty and the graduates we produce,” said University President Milt Glick. “We have been ranked as a ‘best national university’ for many years, and it is rewarding to now be noted in the top tier.” This year’s rankings fall into two tiers rather than four tiers as they did in previous years, and U.S. News also gave a numeric ranking to a greater number of colleges and universities. These changes resulted in the University of Nevada receiving its first numeric ranking from U.S. News. The categories this year also include “Most Debt/Least Debt” rankings, and the University of Nevada, Reno made the “least debt” list at #22. A key component to the U.S. News methodology is a reputation survey that is completed by university presidents, provosts and admission officers. In prior years the reputation survey accounted for 25 percent of the total overall score for each university. This year the reputation survey accounted for 22.5 percent. Those surveyed now also include high school counselors from top-ranked high schools. While the reputation survey is weighted less, graduation rate performance is more heavily weighted this year. The U.S. News methodology for determining graduation rate incorporates a lag of several years and, because of this, recent gains by the University of Nevada are not reflected in the 2011 results. The 2011 rankings are available at Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

electrical and biomedical engineering

Chair’s Message In many areas of the United States, the electricity delivery system is aging and is reaching the limits of its operational capability due to load increases. Over the last 27 years, the department has kept an active undergraduate and graduate program in the field of power systems. The department is proud of its four specialized labs in the field of power systems operation, analysis, protection and power conversions which are operated by five faculty members who specialize in this area. The department currently offers 12 courses in power systems, energy conversion, renewable energy and smart grid applications. The EBME department has established a new undergraduate EE program with an emphasis on renewable energy. In additions to courses covering the fundamentals of electrical engineering, students have the choice to take courses on power systems, renewable energy and the smart grid. These courses will cover solar, wind, geothermal energy, the economics of renewable energy, as well as smart grid applications. The basic concept of a smart grid is to add monitoring, analysis, control, coordination, and communication systems to the electrical power system in order to improve its efficiency and reduce energy consumption. As part of the smart grid, utilities will install smart meters for remotely measuring and recording the amount of electricity used by customers on a daily basis. The department has recently received funding from NV Energy for a project titled “Smart Meter Testing.” The project enables students to test the latest generation of smart meters and evaluate their performance under a variety of test loads. These advanced meters are yet to be placed into service in Nevada. The technology provides consumer flexibility to economically manage electrical energy use and has the potential to increase the efficiency, reliability, and maintenance of the power system. Dr. Mehdi Etezadi, Chair

The department is also involved with several other renewable energy activities that include three NVREC/DOE funded collaborative projects with UNLV and DRI. A new and exciting senior level course titled “Machine Intelligence and Embedded Design” has been offered in the fall of 2010. Topics will include hardware design of chassis, sensors, motors, motor control and printed circuit board layout, design and fabrication. Additional topics include embedded microprocessor interfacing, implementation and programming algorithms for intelligent autonomous goal seeking. Students will design, construct, program and test a micromouse for the IEEE Region 6 competition.

Recruiting high school students for renewable energy research Through an announcement at various local high schools regarding summer research work at the EBME departments and consultation with advisors at these high schools, professor Mehdi Etezadi and his research team have screened and interviewed several candidates to work on the NVREC/DOE funded research project tilted “Matching Renewable Resources with HVAC Loads”. The two selected students were Niraj Gandhi of McQueen and Jake Enos of Spanish Springs high schools. Jake Enos is a junior at Spanish Springs High School this semester. His chemistry teacher recommended him for this program because of his excellent performance in her class. “I am not sure what I want to study in college, which is why I thought this summer internship would be a great opportunity to learn about all the different things dealt with in electrical engineering, and also what the field of engineering is all about. This program has taught me many things which I am very thankful for. I hope to get more opportunities like this in the future and anyone interested in engineering would be very lucky to have a chance in this program.” Niraj Gandhi is a senior at Robert McQueen High School this semester. His math teacher recommended him for this program for his ability and interests in the math and science field. “I really enjoyed working at the summer internship at UNR. Before this opportunity I had no idea what electrical engineers do, but now after completing this summer internship, I have more knowledge about electrical engineering and with what it entails. For this I am very grateful for the opportunity given to me.”


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

electrical and biomedical engineering Robotic printed circuit board assembly added to facilities Printed circuit components are so tiny that, without help, assembly is through a microscope with tweezers and a very small soldering iron. But, thanks to a gift from Reno A&E, a local manufacturer, the department now has the ability to place these small components with a “pick-and-place” machine with precision and speed. Though the machine can be used for mass production, single units can be assembled more reliably with the machine. The Reno A&E staff went above and beyond to help the department with the project. Although it’s taken close to a year to make space and get the machine in the door and operational, the added capability is well worth the effort.

Department receives a large grant from Air Force Office of Scientific Research for biosensing techniques Drs. Nelson Publicover (Electrical and Biomedical Engineering), Suk-Wah Tam-Chang (Chemistry) and Kenneth Hunter (Microbiology) were recently awarded $1.52M from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) to refine two biosensing techniques with the aim of transferring the technologies out of the research laboratory and into deployable Nelson Publicover devices. The biosensor platforms are foundational to numerous clinical, research, and environmental monitoring applications. Drs. Xiaoshan Zhu (Electrical and Biomedical Engineering), Liming Huang (Chemistry) and Sally duPré (Microbiology) are co-investigators in the project.

A novel motor-in-rim electric wheelchair has been developed at with NSF support

Novel motor-in-rim electric wheelchair developed

EBME professor Andy Trzynadlowski and his graduate students Xiaozhang Luo and Ekrem Karaman have developed a fully automated electric motor-in-rim wheelchair. This is an NSF supported collaborative research project with the Louisiana State University (LSU). The wheelchair demonstrates an example use of a novel ac machine designed by researchers at LSU.

In contrast to most of the existing wheelchairs, where a central, under-theseat brushed dc motor drives wheels through gearboxes, here the ac motors are embedded in rims of the wheels and no gearboxes are needed. Elimination of the brushes and gearboxes makes the wheelchair drive less expensive and more reliable. The two independently-controlled Andy Trzynadlowski motors also make the wheelchair more nimble and easy to steer. In the wheelchair shown above, the battery and electronics are located under the seat, and the wheelchair is controlled by a joystick. If, while driving, the joystick is released, the wheelchair stops. The kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy and returned to the battery. Various maneuvers such as driving forward and backward, turning, and spinning in place, are easily performed using the joystick. The wheelchair speed is limited by the controller to 6 mph, but higher speeds are available. The wheelchair drive can be easily adapted to similar vehicles, such as scooters or golf carts. In the next phase of the project, the LSU machine will be employed as an electric generator for low-power wind turbines to be used in residential applications of renewable-energy systems.

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

electrical and biomedical engineering

Integrated Bio-Analytical Systems Lab (IBASL) The current research activities by Dr. Xiaoshan Zhu at the IBASL, located on the third floor of the Scrugham Engineering Mines building, are focusing on the technologies for biomedical diagnostics and water monitoring. A novel immunoassay using nanotechnology and bioanalytical methods has been developed. This novel assay can significantly enhance the detection sensitivity of cardiac biomarkers or pathogenic bacteria, and has potential to achieve multiplexed detection capacity or high throughput in analysis. For water monitoring, a graduate student Chad Cowles under the guidance of Dr. Zhu has developed a bacterial pathogen detection technology using ultrafiltration and immunoassay, and several Escherichia coli O157:H7 per milliliter can be detected in drinking water. The developed waterborne microbe detection technology can be used as an efficient tool for water protection. So far, based on the IBASL research, four research abstracts have been published and presented in academic conferences, and four journal papers have been published or accepted by peer reviewed journals, and one journal manuscript is under review. The IBASL has also been involved in various outreach activities. Two high school students (Grace Lee and Morgan Zandonella) in the Gifted and Talented Education Program of the Washoe County School District, have been involved in the IBASL day-to-day research routines and have received training in both basic laboratory skills and fundamental scientific or engineering concepts such as buffer preparation, pH sensing, antibody-antigen reaction, quantum dot physics and its applications, optical fiber, liquid waveguide, ultrafiltration, etc. Currently, an undergraduate student Joseph Cornnelly in the McNair Program at UNR is working in the lab on a project using optics and electronics for biosensor development. In addition, the IBASL provided device demonstrations to a group of high school students on Engineer’s Day in the College of Engineering in the last two years. Basic concepts on biosensing using various technologies were introduced to these high school students.

Washoe County GT Student Field Trips to EBME Department Over the course of four days during the spring 2010 semester, Dr. Jim Henson and Dana McPherson in the Department of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering offered Lectures and Demonstrations on a variety topics associated with the fundamentals of Electrical Engineering to elementary school students participating in the Washoe County Gifted (GT) Program. The GT students were divided by grade level – third grade through sixth grade. Each day a different group (grade level) was bussed to the University by the Washoe GT Program. There were approximately 40 students in each group. According to Dr. Henson, “All the kids were excited and loved it! They were involved (at all grade levels) and had more questions than we had time to answer.” Dr. Henson discussed the basics of AC and DC electricity and safety issues when working and experimenting in the lab. The students learned via demonstration that electrons moving in a wire create a magnetic field about the wire. They also saw that a time varying magnetic field (due to a spinning magnet) gives rise to a current in a loop of wire. Dr. Henson demonstrated a 100,000 volt Marx Generator, an Ion Lifter, and showed the students how energy can be stored in capacitors and inductors. Other attendees included Ms Christi Wilson and Ms Aline Rosenberg – the students’ GT teachers – as well as a number of parents. “We hope to do this again in 2011,” said Dr. Henson. “It was a valuable experience for the students; and we enjoyed doing it for them.” Following are several student reflections from across all grade levels: • “What an amazing field trip! We learned more about electrons and I watched some demonstrations. Aluminum foil floated, jumping electrons you could see, and aluminum vaporized by electricity.” • “It was so special to have an actual college professor give us a lesson on electricity. I can’t wait to go to college.” • Dr. Henson’s electricity demonstrations were amazing and one day I want a degree in science.” • “Today was one of the best days ever at GT because we went on the UNR field trip and learned more about electricity from a college professor, Dr. Henson. I have a better understanding of the technology age we live in. Everything I have learned will help me in the future, no matter what I decide to do.”


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

electrical and biomedical engineering NESDIS Intern Wins Award

From Mary Kicza, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Congratulations to Michelle R. Ramirez, our summer intern at the Wallops Command and Data Acquisition Station (WCDAS) who was nominated and successfully received the Judy C. Gilliom Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) Student Employee Award for the summer of 2010. Michelle is one of five recipients of this national award, and was selected from a pool of over 600 summer employees. The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) is a nation-wide recruitment and referral program for college students with disabilities. Students who participate in the WRP find summer internships and possible permanent employment within the Federal sector.

Michelle Ramirez and Stephen Howard at the Wallops Command and Data Acquisition Station

Michelle’s task was to develop a cataloging and online inventory control system for the Station’s Documentation Library which contains over 5,000 items detailing the Station’s rich history in environmental satellite telemetry through engineering plans and operational procedures for past and present satellite and antenna systems. She was teamed with Kenneth Carter, another intern, and Jim Sheridan, a long-time employee of the Station on this project. Through her coordination and leadership skills, Michelle and her team developed an Excel spreadsheet with seven inventory parameters, created a numbering system and labeled each item in the library. They meticulously reviewed which items should remain and which should be discarded as they established a system to aid in item discovery and created a location diagram and flow chart.

It was initially perceived that 10 weeks would not be enough time to complete the task. “However,” states her supervisor Stephen Howard of the Support Branch, “there is no longer any doubt that this project will be completed with a high level of excellence before summer’s end. It is for this reason that I nominated Ms. Ramirez. Her efforts, when finished, will provide for improved document access for engineers, scientists, and technicians to execute the Station’s mission. “ Many federal agencies, including NOAA, participate in the Workforce Recruitment Program. NESDIS has hired summer interns through the WRP for the past five years. Five WRP interns were hired in 2010. They are: Lisa Rizzo (University of Colorado at Boulder) at the National Climatic Data Center, Christopher Schmitt (Shepherd University) at the Center for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR), Edgar Triana (Rochester Institute of Technology) at the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), and Michelle Ramirez and Kenneth Carter (Temple University) at the Wallops facility. Previous NESDIS WRP interns are Sean Moore (Gallaudet University) and Tom Ryan (Humboldt State University) who interned at the National Oceanographic Data Center and are now full-time employees there. Rosemary Pettis, NESDIS EEO & Diversity Manager has information about the WRP, and how it can help NESDIS managers and supervisors to meet their hiring needs. Thank you, Michelle, from all of NESDIS for a job well done. We wish you success in your junior year at the University of Nevada in Reno as you continue your major studies in Electrical Engineering and minor studies in Mechanical Engineering.

Constructed in 1964, the 26 meter antenna (26m) is the Station’s oldest asset. It is currently used to track the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) which orbits in the L1 libration point of Earth-Sun gravitational equilibrium. The L1 libration point is located at about 0.932 million miles from the Earth and 992.274 million miles from the Sun. Its mission is to monitor the stream of accelerated particles arriving from the Sun, as well as from interstellar and galactic sources to predict geomagnetic storms (about one hour before arrival), which can overload power grids, disrupt communications, and present a danger to astronauts. Figure 1 shows Michelle R. Ramirez, an intern from Reno, Nevada, in front of the 26 meter antenna at the Wallops Command and Data Acquisition Station, located in Wallops Virginia. Cass A, a star within the Cassiopeia Constellation, is known to produce a given frequency and a higher power level and this star is used for testing and calibration of the antenna systems at the WCDAS. This particular test is called “G/T testing” and it is the testing and measuring of the gain over the noise temperature of the signal received by the antenna system. The purpose of this testing is to calculate the ratio of the gain over the noise temperature and Figure 1 compare it to the original specifications that were supplied by the manufacturer for the particular antenna system being tested. This testing is performed annually for each antenna system. Figure 2 illustrates G/T testing being performed on the Polar Operations floor by Matt G. Sullivan, a Wallops CDA Station employee and by interns Michelle R. Ramirez and Kenneth M. Carter. Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

Figure 2


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

mechanical engineering

Chair’s Message Recently, we were able to hire two new tenure-track faculty, Dr. Henry Fu and Dr. Emil Geiger (page 34). They will further help the department with innovative research, teaching, curriculum development, and scholarly activities. The 2009-2010 school year has been an extremely successful one for the Mechanical Engineering Department. Our faculty continues to be productive in attracting highly competitive research grants from National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and Department of Defense. Also, our students surpass our expectation in many perspectives - their achievements are listed under the student news section of this publication beginning on page 45. We have a long history of innovation and excellence in research, education, and outreach and are committed to the education of the next generation of mechanical engineers.

Dr. Kwang Kim, Chair

Gordaninejad earns 13th patent

Faramarz Gordaninejad

A new U.S. patent (7,698,930) by Dr. Faramarz Gordaninejad and his former student Mr. Joseph Whiteley entitled “Method and Apparatus for Measuring Pressure Drop of Magneto‐ Rheological (MR) Suspensions in Microchannels,” was recently awarded. This is Gordaninejad’s 13th patent at the University of Nevada, Reno. The focus of this effort was to experimentally investigate the flow of MR fluids in microchannels. Recent advances in small devices have sparked interest in studying the characteristics of controllable fluid flow at the microscale. The flow behavior of MR fluid through microchannel is similar to particle-laden flow. The pressure gradient of the flow for the MR fluid is measured across microchannels with nominal ID of 75μm. A magnetic field is applied midway along the microchannels by an electromagnet. The results show a significant pressure drop for different magnetic field strengths. Based on this study a paper is also publish Whiteley, J., Gordaninejad, F. and Wang, X., “Study of Magneto-Rheological Fluid Flow in Microchannels,” ASME Journal of Applied Mechanics, Vol. 77, 041011-1, July, 2010.

Professors awarded DoE grant In collaboration with Dr. Qizhen Li in Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, Dr. Yanyao Jiang was recently awarded a research grant under the Single-Investigator and Small-Group Research program from the Office of Basic Energy Science at the Department of Energy. The project entitled “Micro-mechanisms and Multiscale Modeling of Cyclic Plastic Deformation of Magnesium Single Crystals” was one of 95 funded projects chosen from over 900 proposals submitted in 2009 from universities and DOE labs. The project has a total budget of approximately $1 million.

Left to Right: Yanyao Jiang, Mechanical Engineering and Qizhen Li, Chemical & Metallurgical Engineering


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

mechanical engineering Students see ski concepts become reality through the wonders of nanotech Story by Skyler Dillon, Student Writer, University Media Relations

“Everyone likes to ski, right?” University of Nevada, Reno Professor Kam Leang, who himself has not missed his monthly ski date for the last seven years, and has been building his own skis in his garage for several years, wants to inspire his mechanical engineering students to get interested in real world nanotechnology. With the help of a grant from the National Science Foundation, Leang and his colleagues Jonghwan Suhr and John Cannon are incorporating nanotechnology into current engineering curriculums and are exploring ways to make it more interesting. “The first thing to do is to excite the students,” Leang said of the project. Enter skiing. In his senior design class this semester, Leang’s students conceptualized, designed, and built sets of skis using nanotechnology to attempt to improve the skis’ performance. “When you use nanocomposites (materials that are less than 100 nanometers in length) instead of something like fiberglass, the result is lighter, stronger and can get damper,” explained Leang. Kevin Chafey, a mechanical engineering senior graduating this semester, was surprised to learn of all the ways nanotechnology can be used. “There are so many things you can do with it, so many applications that haven’t been explored,” he said. The class, which was divided into two groups, designed two different sets of skis. One uses a honeycomb-type box containing tiny metal balls, called a particle dampener, on the end of the ski to help dissipate energy and lessen the vibrations skiers feel while skiing down the slopes. The other set of skis folds down to a convenient size that can fit in a car trunk or even in carry-on luggage at airports. Graduate student Brian Kenton, who is the teaching assistant for the class, has been building his own skis out of his garage for the last four years. “I’ve made about 12 pairs, but this is definitely the first time I’ve seen one with a particle dampener on it,” he said. Students researched current ski models and patents to be sure they were working on something new, then spent most of the semester designing, building computer models for their skis and constructing a ski press. They built the actual prototypes on Dec. 3. To Stephen Greenan, a senior in the class, seeing the skis come to life has been one of the best parts of the semester. “It’s fun to see your accomplishments transfer from paper to an actual, physical project,” he said. Leang and his colleagues hope to encourage other schools to develop similar programs, using the curriculum he has developed through the NSF program, and to eventually start a national ski-building competition similar to the annual concrete canoe competition that Nevada participates in each spring. According to senior Brett Barlow, it won’t be too hard to get other students involved. “It’s fun to mix school with hobbies,” he said. “And this is our first-semester swing at this project. The more we learn the more we can integrate (nanotechnology) in our work.” Greenan has volunteered to test his team’s skis, but not without a bit of trepidation. While he has faith in the concept of his group’s skis, he isn’t positive that they’ll survive their first test run. “In our later analyses we’ve found things to change and ways to make it better,” he said. “There are always ways to improve.” Even if the skis don’t make it down the slope, however, the class has met its goal. “We just wanted to get students thinking about nanotechnology,” said Leang. The curriculum isn’t just for building skis. Practical, easy-to-relate-to macro-scale applications such as aerospace structures and windenergy turbine blades will also be introduced into sophomore- and junior-level courses. The technical engineering challenges and need for improving functionality of all of these applications will be presented and then linked to solutions offered by nanotechnology. To further reinforce the concepts, a suite of capstone-level design projects which includes nanocomposite-based wind-energy turbine blades and snow skis will be developed for students entering their senior year of study after being introduced to these applications in previous years. The new Energy Efficient Systems and Dynamic Structures mechanical engineering curriculum is made possible through the $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education in Engineering program. Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

mechanical engineering

Professor’s work on hydrogen muscles featured Story by John Trent, Senior Editor, Integrated Marketing

Kwang Kim, a professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, is at the forefront of research that could make robots run much more like they seem in movies and on television. That is, with very little noise. Kim’s work with the building of artificial muscles that run on hydrogen, instead of much louder compressed-air pumps or electric motors, was featured recently in a news article in New Scientist. The article notes that Kim “came up with the idea after realizing that hydrogen can be supplied silently by metal hydride compounds. Metal hydrides can undergo a process called reversible chemisorption, allowing them to store and release extra hydrogen held by weak chemical bonds. It’s this property that has led to the motor industry investigating metal hydrides as hydrogen ‘tanks’ for fuel cells.”

Kwang Kim, a professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, is at the forefront of research that could make robots run much more like they seem in movies and on television. Photo by Jean Dixon.

The article adds that Kim, and colleague Alexandra Vanderhoff first compressed “a copper and nickel-based hydride power into peanut-sized pellets. They then secured them in a reactor vessel and pumped in hydrogen to ‘charge’ the pellets with the gas. A heater coil surrounded the vessel, as heat breaks the weak chemical bonds and releases the stored hydrogen.” The vessel is then connected to artificial muscle, made of inflatable rubber tube and Kevlar. When two of these are placed on the sides of a robotic joint, the movement of muscles can be imitated by either inflation or deflation.

Kim says the muscle performs just as efficiently as those that run on compressed air. “The system has biological muscle-like properties for humanoid robots that need high power, large limb strokes – and no noise,” Kim says.

Financial Uncertainty Drives College Students Into Well-Paid Degrees The Albany Business Review (7/16, Cooper) reports on the "growing number of college students who are shying away from liberal arts programs in favor of degrees more likely to lead to a high-paying job." The trend is leading more students into "economics, science, math, accounting and business." Sue Faerman, vice provost for undergraduate education at the University at Albany said, "I saw this trend in the early 1980s when unemployment rates were high. ... When the economy is bad, parents and students become concerned about how marketable their son or daughter will be when they graduate." Union College is seeing the same enrollment shift, with higher interest "in economics, neuroscience and geology." Also falling into this category is the "new bioengineering program [created] last fall to supplement the electrical engineering and mechanical engineering programs it already offers."


A Twistable Artificial Muscle Fin Drs. Kwang Kim and Kam Leang received funding from the Office of Naval Research to conduct research on newly developed electroactive polymer “Artificial Muscles (AM)”. The project’s goal is to exploit the unique properties of AM to develop and deliver a compact and energy-efficient technology for enhanced maneuvering of small unmanned biorobotic surface/underwater vehicles.

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

mechanical engineering Electric Car

Cahit Evrensel

Chanwoo Park

Kam Leang

Temperature variation of battery cells with heat generation during 10th cycle of an oscillating cooling flow (τ = 1200)

A research team led by Dr. Chanwoo Park ( edu/park/) has been developing advanced cooling technologies for electronics cooling and rechargeable battery thermal management of electrical vehicles. A two-phase cooling loop using a hybrid design of mechanical and capillary pumping in 3-dimensional, micro-porous layer of the evaporator of the cooling loop promises a compact, energy-efficient and robust (gravity-insensitive) cooling solution for emerging power electronics dissipating high heat flux heat (>100W/cm²). A reciprocating cooling flow is also used to achieve an improved battery performance and extended lifetime due to reduced temperature difference (<1K) and maximum temperature among the battery cells within a battery pack.

Improving Visibility of Snow Plowing

Kim receives NSF grant for robotic catheter platform Snow accumulation on windshields and lights during snow plowing causes visibility problems for the plow driver as well as the motoring public. Snow accumulation on the radiator grille results in engine overheating. University of Nevada, Reno Research Team led by Dr. Cahit Evrensel developed full 3-D Computational Fluid Mechanics (CFD) models of a test vehicle in operation by the Nevada Department of Transportation. It is used to design and optimize different add-on modifications to the truck, such as rear airfoil, over-plow deflector, which are based on calculated velocity and pressure predictions. The results are implemented on the test vehicle. Dr. Kwang Kim recently received a research grant from the National Science Foundation, entitled “Robotic Catheterization Using Ionic Polymer-Metal Composite Actuator.” The project is to develop a robotic active catheter platform, based upon a unique Electro-Active Polymer (EAP) artificial muscle technology that he has pioneered.

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

faculty news

New Faces Dr. Henry Fu joined the Mechanical Engineering Department on July 1. Dr. Fu received a master’s degree in Chemistry concurrently with a bachelor’s degree in Physics and Chemistry and Mathematics from Harvard University. His master’s work included research in the field of low-temperature laser spectroscopy. He received a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley in December 2006 for dissertation work on strongly correlated electron systems in condensed matter. He then redirected his research field to biological mechanics and fluid dynamics as a postdoctoral research associate in the Division of Engineering at Brown University from 2006-2010. His current research interests include complex biomaterials, hydrodynamics of swimming microorganisms, and low-Reynolds number hydrodynamics. Specific research projects involve swimming hydrodynamics in non-Newtonian biological fluids and gels, mechanics of random filament networks, microrheology in gels, swimming hydrodynamics in shear flows, and the behavior of chiral particles in shear flows, with application to chiral separation. Dr. Fu’s research is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Dr. Emil J. Geiger also joined the Mechanical Engineering Department on July 1. Dr. Geiger received his B.S. with Honors in Mechanical Engineering from Louisiana State University (LSU) in 2003. While at LSU, he worked as an undergraduate researcher building polymeric devices with both hot-embossing and injection molding. In 2006, he received his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. His master’s degree work involved using plastic injection molding to encapsulate and package discrete siliconbased microfluidic components. He graduated from UC Berkeley with his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 2008. His Ph.D. research involved developing a highly-functional, polymer-based microfluidic device. From 2008-2010, he was a post-doctoral researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. There he worked on developing polymer-based microelectrode arrays for neural applications including a retinal prosthesis ( His current interests lie in developing polymer based microsystems for biological applications. Specific research projects include microfluidic screening of microalgae for biofuel production and polymer-based electronics for high density neural prostheses.

Dr. Hongfei Lin has joined the faculty of Chemical & Metallurgical Engineering as an Assistant Professor. He received his B.E and M.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, in 1996 and 2000, respectively and his Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, La., in 2005. After graduation, he was a postdoctoral fellow for two years in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Calif. He then worked in industry for three years in alternative energy research specializing in catalytic conversion of biomass to hydrocarbon fuels, renewable hydrogen production, and catalytic transformation of natural gas to liquid fuels or chemicals. He has published 18 technical papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals and holds three patents / patent applications. Dr. Lin’s research activities focus on the development of novel catalytic materials and chemical conversion processes for the production of renewable energy and clean fuels. In particular, the design and construction of multifunctional heterogeneous catalytic materials are emphasized, aiming to develop highly efficient and low-cost energy conversion processes. Furthermore, fundamental studies of advanced materials using modern characterization techniques are coupled with catalytic reactor design to maximize the overall efficiency of the catalytic processes. His future research efforts at Nevada will continue toward seeking highly efficient and environmentally friendly catalytic materials for energy and environmental applications.


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

faculty news Dr. Keri Ryan joins the faculty in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering after six years as an Assistant Professor at Utah State University. Prior to this, she completed graduate degrees, both M.S. and Ph.D., at University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S. at California Institute of Technology. With a grant from the National Science Foundation, Dr. Ryan has been leading a large research project to address impediments to wider use of seismic protective systems that can protect buildings and bridges from being damaged in earthquake. Seismic isolators are flexible devices placed at the base of a building or the top of the bridge column that lengthen the fundamental period of vibration of the structure, thereby reducing the forces transferred to the structure from the ground acceleration. In 2011, the project will perform shake table tests of a full scale building supported on different isolation devices at E-Defense, the world’s largest shaking table facility in Miki City, Japan. The tests will focus on some of the issues associated with Dr. Ryan’s project will be only the fourth U.S. project to utilize the impressive facilities in Japan for building tests. The tests will focus on concerns about seismic isolation that are often raised by engineers, in relation to extremely strong ground motions that might exceed the usual design capacity for isolation devices. Dr. Ryan’s research team is also working on a methodology for life cycle performance evaluation, and developing representative examples for conventional and seismic isolated buildings. Using a probabilistic approach, the study will determine the likely return on an investment in a protective system over the lifetime of the building considering the repair costs, business interruption losses and profit losses that might occur in various intensity earthquakes with different likelihood of occurring over the lifetime of the building. In addition to building a strong research program, Dr. Ryan was recognized at USU for outstanding advising and for developing several new theoretical and design courses to strengthen the graduate program.

College of Engineering announces new department chairs Two new department chairs have been appointed in the College of Engineering. Alan Fuchs is the new chair of the chemical and materials engineering department. He received his Ph.D. in 1996 from Tufts University, after receiving his master’s degree at the University of Rochester in 1979. He completed his undergraduate work at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York in 1977. Fuchs brings extensive experience in polymer science and engineering, membrane research and intellectual property development in intelligent polymeric fluids. “Dr. Fuchs is an experienced faculty member of the chemical and materials engineering department who understands well the department. Dr. Alan Fuchs, right, is the new chair of the chemical and materials exceptional success of some departmental research areas, as well the engineering department. Photos by Theresa Danna-Douglas. opportunities for growth of the undergraduate and graduate programs,” Manos Maragakis, Dean of the College of Engineering said. “He brings a fine balance between the need to strengthen existing successful efforts and the vision of growing new areas with strong future potential.” Dr. Mehdi Etezadi, left, is the new chair of the electrical and biomedical engineering

Mehdi Etezadi, a faculty member of the electrical and biomedical engineering department for over 25 years, is now at the helm of the department. Etezadi received his bachelor’s, masters and doctoral degrees from New Mexico State University, where also served as an assistant professor. He worked as an engineer for the Arizona Public Service Company, and specializes in power systems analysis, planning and protection; renewable energy; electromagnetic transient simulations; large scale system modeling; neural networks and fuzzy control application to power systems. “Dr. Etezadi has been part of the department's development, knows its strengths, understands its weaknesses and with his dedication, experience and vision can lead the department to higher levels of scholarship and productivity,” Maragakis said. “We are fortunate to have both of them in our college leadership team and I am committed to help them achieve their ambitious goals.” Story by Kathie Taylor

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

faculty news

Awards and recognition David Sanders


Civil & Environmental Engineering Elected to ASCE Fellow. 2



“ASCE Fellows occupy the Society’s second-highest membership grade, exceeded only by Honorary Members. There is no direct admission to the grade of Fellow. Fellow status must be attained by professional accomplishments via application and election by the Membership Application Review Committee (MARC). It is a prestigious honor held by fewer than 5 percent of ASCE members. Fellows are practitioners, educators, mentors, and most of all leaders. They have distinguished careers that have contributed significantly to the Civil Engineering profession. The accomplishments of Fellows have left their marks on their communities, society, and future engineering professionals.”

Eric Marchand

Civil & Environmental Engineering


Received the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Environmental Engineering & Science Professors for Exceptional Service from 2006-2009. 6

Sergiu Dascalu

Computer Science & Engineering Received second place in the F. Donald Tibbits University Distinguished Teacher Award. The award is presented to a faculty member for excellence in the classroom, giving greater recognition to teaching as a faculty activity, and is based on recommendations from college deans and department personnel.



Dwight Egbert & Frederick C. Harris, Jr. Computer Science & Engineering

Drs. Dwight Egbert and Fred Harris, both professors in Computer Science & Engineering, along with John R. Kearney of John Deere, won the Best Paper Award at the 25th International Conference on Computers & Their Applications (CATA 2010).



A Unique Instrumentation System Design for Measuring Forces on a Rotating Shaft in / Proceedings of CATA 2010/, pp. 275-282, March 24-26, 2010.

Andrzej M. Trzynadlowski

Electrical & Biomedical Engineering 1. David Sanders 2. Eric Marchand 3. Sergiu Dascalu 4. Dwight Egbert 5. Frederick C. Harris, Jr. 6. Andrzej M. Trzynadlowski 7. Yantao Shen 8. Richard A. Wirtz and Zenghui Zhao 9. Theodore E. Batchman 10. Bradford M. Snyder


Published a new book entitled “Introduction to Modern Power Electronics”.

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

faculty news

Yantao Shen

Electrical & Biomedical Engineering Dr. Yantao Shen, an assistant professor in Electrical & Biomedical Engineering, along with Josette Zaklit and Y. Wang, won the T.J. Tarn Best Paper Award at the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Biomimetics.

Richard A. Wirtz

Mechanical Engineering Received an ASME Lifetime Member Award. Also, Dr. Wirtz, along with Zenghui Zhao, a graduate research assistant, received the Best Presentation Award at the 2009 Geothermal Resources Counsel.

Emeritus Status Dr. Theodore E. Batchman, former Dean of the College of Engineering and professor in Electrical & Biomedical Engineering, and Dr. Bradford M. Snyder, professor in Mechanical Engineering, both became Emeritus faculty in July 2010.

Researcher Wins NSHE Award Manoranjan “Mano” Misra is known for turning coffee grounds and chicken feathers into fuel. He purifies arsenic-laced water and, using sunlight, can turn water into fuel. Now he has been honored by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents for his accomplishments as the 2010 Regents’ Researcher. Misra, a faculty member since 1988 and now the director of the University’s Renewable Energy Center, has published 183 technical papers in the areas of materials, nanotechnology and environmental and mineral process engineering. He has had 10 patents published and another 12 are pending. He has secured over $25 million dollars in grant funding. His work also includes applied nanotechnology for solar hydrogen generation, hydrogen storage, biomaterials for prosthetic implantation and sensor technology. Misra’s work in the removal of arsenic from drinking water has earned him national recognition, as well as three patents. Several industries have taken licenses from the University to use his arsenic technology for water purification. His patented process for mercury removal from the cyanide streams of gold mining operations is being used in Nevada and internationally. Misra’s recent research in renewal energy, more specifically in using coffee grounds and chicken feathers to produce biodiesel fuel, has garnered the attention of national media such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Science Daily and Scientific American. Misra’s expertise is also recognized for his service as a reviewer for 12 different journals, including Science and Nature. He also is a panel reviewer for the Department of Energy-Alternative Energy, National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense, among others. He has been a professor in the department of chemical and metallurgical engineering since 1993, served for six years as the chair of the metallurgical and materials engineering department, is the director of the Center for Mineral Bioprocessing and Remediation and is on the faculty of the environmental science and engineering department and the biomedical engineering department. Story by Mike Wolterbeek, University Media Relations

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

college of engineering advisory board

Strong in its commitment to excellence

By Jeff Ceccarelli

The College of Engineering (CoEN) is committed to academic excellence. The mission of the College of Engineering (CoEN) Advisory Board is to provide advice and support to the College and the Dean in a number of areas including recruiting talent, ensuring a quality educational experience, outreach to the community statewide/worldwide, and establishing corporate partnerships; all the while striving to maintain the highest standard of academic excellence. Under the leadership of Sara Lafrance, former chair of the College of Engineering Advisory Board, the Board committee structure was re-organized to better achieve our mission. Due to the diligent efforts of Dean Manos Maragakis, his team, and our students, the vision of measurable national recognition (top 100 schools of engineering in the nation) is achievable in the next five to 10 years. This vision can be reached through the execution of our major initiatives around becoming a regional leader of engineering and computer science education, becoming an integral factor for the state’s economic diversification, and by pursuing research programs, educational programs and outreach activities that address important national and international priorities. Earthquake engineering, game engineering, sustainability and renewable energy resources are examples of college programs and University multidisciplinary programs that benefit our students, state, nation and world. Jeff Ceccarelli Advisory Board Chair

What may be less known is the purposeful and cohesive program of the College of Engineering’s research focus. The theme of these research efforts is “Engineering for the Advancement of Society” and the major research focus areas of the college are: • Infrastructure and Environment: Urban, Energy and Environmental Applications; • Security & Defense: National Defense and Cyberspace Applications; • Human Development: Heath Medical and Social Applications. The research expertise and content in each of these areas are provided by five departments: Chemical & Metallurgical Engineering, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Computer Science & Engineering, Electrical & Biomedical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. The new knowledge and technology resulting from these focus areas will not only address important national and global concerns, they will also enhance the education of our students, address some community, state and national engineering issues, and directly contribute to achieving the leadership position for the college central to the college’s vision. The College of Engineering website includes the detailed strategic plan and the research areas for the College of Engineering and can be found at I encourage all alumni and friends to make the time to read the summary of the College’s strategic approach. The College of Engineering Advisory Board members are pleased to be advocates for the College of Engineering. Committees such as the Academic Assessment Committee and the Communications Committee are working on projects such as ABET accreditation and increasing the visibility of the College – its excellence, its work, and its role as a state resource. The Corporate Consortium Committee is putting in place a major outreach effort to international companies such as IBM and INTEL which will involve government agency and private industry partnering. The Finance Committee is working with University leadership to explore ways in which to increase the resources for the College so that it can pursue and achieve short and long term goals. The commitment to academic excellence remains strong. In that regard, one way to ensure our progress toward strategic initiatives is through enhanced levels of support. The College of Engineering Advisory Board invites you to join us in our work. If you are interested in talking about ways in which to do this, please contact Melanie Perish, Director of Development and Alumni Relations at 775-784-6433 or (Editor’s note: Jeff Ceccarelli, Senior Vice President of NV Energy, is a civil engineering graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno.)


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

college mentoring program

Be a mentor! The College of Engineering invites you to become a mentor to an engineering or computer science student. Engineering mentors and mentees will explore career opportunities in engineering, computer science and related fields together.


• Interested mentors and students will fill out a short questionnaire to assist with pairing. • Mentors and students will meet for two semesters, on a schedule customized to fit their needs. • At the end of the year, each mentor and student will share their experience through an evaluation form.

Types of activities


• Shadowing the mentor for a day at the mentor’s workplace

• Give your time and talent to another generation of COEN students.

• Tour of the mentor’s company

• Guide them in ways in which you were guided or you wish you had been guided.

• Lunch meetings • Coffee meetings on or off campus • Attending professional talks/seminars/meetings • Phone and e-mail communication • Help with resume writing and interviewing skills

• Take advantage of learning about education, engineering, or workforce perceptions from a very different perspective. • Make an impact – on an individual and on the culture of the COEN.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor or have any questions, please contact Meg Fitzgerald ( or Jennifer O’Neil (


Nevada Nevada Engineering Engineering •• Winter Winter 2011 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

college news

Large-Scale Dream: Nevada’s renowned quake lab earns $18 million for expansion Story by Mike Wolterbeek, University Media Relations and John Trent, Senior Editor, Integrated Marketing

Ian Buckle isn’t normally a professor who uses a lot of superlatives in conversation. Since joining the University of Nevada, Reno in 1999, Buckle, a Foundation Professor of Civil Engineering, has been one of the campus’ more calm, reassuring and reasoned voices. On Thursday, however, in describing the $12.2 million award from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to fund the major portion of an expansion of the University’s world-renowned earthquake engineering lab, Buckle topped one superlative with another during a mid-day press conference. “This is a great day,” Buckle said. Then, flashing a grin, he amended his words with, “No, this is a momentous day.” Great? Momentous? Certainly. Thursday was a day, as Provost Marc Johnson aptly put it, of “celebration.” The news that Buckle and the College of Engineering announced on Thursday meant that funding is now in place for an expansion for a lab where, for the past 25 years, researchers have conducted successful experiments of building and testing large-scale buildings and bridges to advance seismic safety. The expanded facility will house the largest and most versatile earthquake simulation laboratory in the United States. The $18 million project also received funds from the Department of Energy last year to finance the initial phase of construction of the 23,000-square-foot project, scheduled to begin in October. When completed, the combined area of the new and existing facilities will exceed 30,000 square feet. “It takes many, many people to pull something like this off,” Johnson said. “It speaks volumes of the competitive nature of this university across the nation.” The University was one of only five institutions from more than 100 applicants nationwide that received grant money from the NIST Construction Grants Program. The project will create short-term construction jobs and have a positive long-term employment and economic impact through other agency and private industry projects. Manos Maragakis, dean of the College of Engineering, recalled how over the past 25 years the facility has progressed from something slightly more tangible than a dream to what it is today: “A dream come true.” “With all of the dreams, there were moments when we thought nothing would happen,” Maragakis said, noting, however, that College of Engineering’s Department of Civil Engineering faculty – and in particular, its large-scale structures faculty – worked tirelessly to attract millions of dollars in competitive grants, and found national collaborations and consortiums across the nation to constantly improve the facility’s infrastructure, viability and reach. Momentum and achievement have reached such a critical mass of excellence, Maragakis said, that it was inevitable that the facility, as it stands today and even with its sterling worldwide reputation, would have to expand. “I can tell you that (the faculty in engineering) are taking steps like I’ve never seen in my 26 years at the University,” said Maragakis, who joined the Nevada faculty in 1984. To give the assembled audience of media, faculty, staff, student and members of the University of Nevada Foundation who gathered in the facility on Thursday an idea of how much hard work went into securing the funding, Maragakis noted that 144 letters of intent from institutions across the country were submitted, along with 125 completed proposals.


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

college news Of those, five were chosen, including Nevada’s. “That makes this even sweeter,” Maragakis said. Of the long-term benefits, Maragakis said: “This expansion is a major accomplishment that will make us more competitive and productive. Our facility will be unique worldwide and, combined with the excellence of our faculty and students, will allow us to have even greater contributions to the seismic safety of our state, the nation and the world.“ A collaborative accomplishment “A good part of why we received this funding is because of the high quality work we do and the high-caliber faculty,” Maragakis said. “But special congratulations should be extended to Dr. Ian Buckle for putting together such a competitive proposal. The competitive nature of this award adds significantly to the importance and prestige of this accomplishment.” Buckle was quick to praise his colleagues as well. “It’s not me, it’s not one individual,” he said of the collegial and collaborative nature that marks the relationships between the college’s six large-scale structure faculty members. Buckle, director of the Large-Scale Structures Lab, said the expanded facility will house the University’s four large 14-by-14-foot, 50-toncapacity shake tables that are capable of replicating, through computer software and massive hydraulically-operated actuators, any recorded earthquake. “The new building configuration will allow for a fifth shake table and more versatile use of the equipment while freeing up space for additional experiments,” Buckle said. “We have a backlog now, a long list of projects of people and agencies who want to use the lab. For example, our next big project is a 145-foot, curved, 130-ton bridge project that takes up every bit of current space, door-to-door and wallto-wall.” The greatly expanded research space will allow for additional experiment configurations for large-scale models of buildings, and experiments that are not now possible in the existing facility, such as simulating the effect of seismic waves propagating through layers of soil under foundations. “This will be a quantum jump in the range and complexity of experiments that can be undertaken in both new and existing laboratories, with advances in state-of-the-art earthquake engineering that are not currently possible,” Buckle said. “Safer buildings, bridges and more resilient communities will be the end result.” The University’s Center for Civil Engineering Earthquake Research carries out research for federal and state agencies, the private sector and non-profit organizations. In addition to highway bridges, the Center’s current research efforts include the study of non-structural components in buildings and alternative building materials. “The earthquake research done here at the University and in this laboratory has discovered new knowledge, stretched intellectual boundaries and at the same time provided useful research,” University President Milt Glick said. “So when there’s a bridge problem in San Francisco, they call upon our faculty to help them solve the design problem. And when they want to design a safer building, where do they come? They come here.” The facility supports itself financially. In the past 10 years, major research grants and contracts acquired by the Center for Civil Engineering Earthquake Research totaled $38.5 million. “With the expansion, we can accommodate more students and their projects and have more local construction industry use, bringing in multi-thousand dollar specimens,” Buckle said. Almost 20 academic, research and administrative faculty, scientists and technicians are affiliated with the Center for Civil Engineering Earthquake Research and the earthquake simulation lab. About 30 doctoral and masters students are engaged in research projects under the Center’s umbrella. Total research funding in 2009 was about $3.5 million. In its 25-year history the Center has published more than 160 technical reports which describe the results of these activities. The University facility is managed as a national shared-use National Earthquake Engineering Simulation site created and funded by the National Science Foundation in 2004 to provide new earthquake-engineering research and testing capabilities for large structural systems. This NEES equipment site is connected to the NEES Consortium of 14 other universities. “(The University of Nevada, Reno’s) earthquake research center is among the best in the nation, providing real-time data that is vital to maintaining safe roadways, bridges and buildings that can endure Nevada’s frequent seismic activity,” said Nevada Sen. Harry Reid. “Thanks to this funding, the university will have the facility and resources needed to build on the quality work they already perform and help keep Nevadans safe.” The project is expected to be complete in 2013. “I look forward to the day when I can show you through our new facility,” Buckle said.

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

college news

University achieves best-ever showing in graduate program rankings Two “schools” and 12 programs included in 2010 rankings by U.S. News and World Report Story by Jane Tors, University Media Relations

RENO, Nev. – The University of Nevada, Reno has achieved its strongest showing ever in the annual rankings of the best graduate programs by U.S. News and World Report. The College of Engineering and School of Medicine are ranked among the best “schools.” Twelve additional University graduate programs are ranked, including three College of Engineering graduate programs. “These rankings reflect the quality of faculty and the caliber of their teaching and research, and our peers across the country are taking notice,” said Marc Johnson, University provost. The College of Engineering was ranked number 126 in the list of “best engineering schools.” Among the public universities listed, the College of Engineering ranked number 86. In addition to these two showings in the “best schools” categories, the University was ranked in several program and specialty lists, including the following top-100 rankings: • Number 43 for clinical psychology • Number 61 for environmental engineering • Number 63 for earth sciences • Number 65 for civil engineering • Number 72 for speech pathology The University also achieved top-225 rankings in the categories of biological sciences, chemistry, mechanical engineering, physics, psychology, part-time MBA and nursing programs. “These graduate programs and our research portfolio serve many of our state’s major industries, including geological and earth resource industries, mining, engineering industries, gaming and gaming manufacturing,” Johnson said. “They are important to the continued emergence of future-oriented industries, such as renewable energy and health care, which can provide the foundation for a stronger, more sustainable economy.” “It is exciting to see the College of Engineering move into the top 100 among public universities, with several of its graduate programs moving into the top 125 programs,” said Marsha Read, interim vice president for research and dean of the graduate school. “Not only are the graduate programs in engineering bolstered by the strong research activities of the faculty, but they produce a significant number of skilled, future employees making an important contribution to the economic development and workforce needs of Nevada.” The University’s Office of Research reports that research funding to the institution has more than doubled over the past 10 years, from $34 million in 1999 to $73 million for fiscal year 2008-09. The University is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a high-research-activity university, one of 100 institutions nationwide in this classification, and has ranked nationally in the top 100 for total research funding of public research universities for the past 10 years. In 2008, the University was ranked in the top 50 public research universities in the United States by The Center for Measuring University Performance, a national research center based at Arizona State University that tracks performance of more than 650 research universities. The U.S. News and World Report best graduate program rankings, including information about the ranking methodologies, are available at:

Distinguished Lecture Series The College of Engineering lecture series has been designed to bring distinguished guest speakers and timely topics to the local community. Showcasing its facilities and programs, these on-campus events provide insight and expertise for faculty, students, and the public on a regular basis. The inaugural panel discussion, held on October 14, 2010, was on “Renewable energy and the future of Nevada.” Nevada sits at the epicenter of renewable energy sources. It has solar, wind, geothermal, and other innovative resources that could be developed to not only meet its future energy needs but to resurrect the state’s economy as well. Moderated by Michael Hagerty of KNPB Channel 5, Reno, with introductions by Dean Greg Mosier of the College of Business, the panelists included the following: • Terry Page, Director Regulatory & External Affairs ~ Acciona Solar Power, Henderson, Nevada • Theodore Kniesche, Vice President, Business Development ~ Fulcrum Bio-Energy Inc., Storey County, Nevada • Thomas Fair, Vice President, Renewable Energy ~ NV Energy, Reno, Nevada • Paul Thomsen, Director of Policy & Business Development ~ Ormat Technologies Inc., Reno, Nevada • Walt Borland, President & CEO ~ Windspire, Reno, Nevada • Jim Croce, CEO ~ Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy, Commercialization, Reno, Nevada


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

college news Longtime University employee Johns passes away Story by John Trent, Senior Editor, Integrated Marketing

Rose Johns, a longtime member of the College of Engineering’s Dean’s Office, passed away on Saturday, September 17, 2010. Johns had worked at the University of Nevada, Reno since 1988. She had served as a program officer for the College of Engineering since 1996. “This is extremely sad news,” College of Engineering Dean Manos Maragakis said. “Rose was a wonderful person who made our college a better place through her many exceptional abilities, both as a professional and as a human being. She always went the extra mile for the students, faculty and staff of our college. “This is a great loss for our college. On behalf of the College of Engineering, I wish to offer our thoughts and prayers to Rose’s family during this difficult time.” Johns is survived by her husband, Randy, daughter, Jessica , and son, Timmy. Staff and colleagues at the College of Engineering, said Johns was a compassionate person, good friend and dedicated mother and wife. They recalled the delight Johns shared with others concerning her daughter’s recent marriage, and the abiding love Johns had for her son. “Rose dedicated her life to her children,” said Sally Casas, executive assistant to the dean of the College of Engineering. “Timmy is severely autistic and Rose was a champion on behalf of the needs of autistic children. She did everything she could to ensure that Timmy had a very fulfilling life and that his needs were met.”

Sierra Nevada Corporation gives $1 million for energy research Photo and Story by Mike Wolterbeek, University Media Relations

Sierra Nevada Corporation has provided a $1 million research project to the University of Nevada, Reno to develop a transportable, renewable energy power generating system that could produce enough power to supply a small village. The University’s engineering department will bring together experts from multiple disciplines and integrate a number of technologies to develop a solar-thermal power generating system. The Desert Research Institute will assist with the project. “We’re combining mechanical, thermal, electrical, advanced composites and materials and chemical engineering with renewable energy principles into the design and testing of a lab-scale system,” said Mano Misra, primary researcher on the project. Misra is also the University’s Renewable Energy Center director and a materials engineering professor. “The test system will initially focus on storage to generate about 40 to 60 kilowatts,” he said. “The transportable system has a number of important applications since it produces both thermal and electric energy. Electricity and water production are crucial needs in remote and disaster locations. “Today, these needs are usually met with diesel generators. The transportation of diesel fuel is difficult and very expensive. This system will be inexpensive, efficient and renewable.” In disaster situations, such as Haiti, the system can be quickly transported to the area to provide life-saving power and water. Further, since the system operates on clean solar energy, the relief

supply efforts can dramatically reduce the fuel they transport and can instead focus on more important food and medicine. “Projects such as these exemplify our mission of working with industry to advance engineering, address important challenges, and provide economic benefits to Nevada,” Manos Maragakis, Dean of the College of Engineering said. “This is a model of how the College of Engineering can play a major role in the diversification of our economy. “This solar-thermal power generating system will demonstrate the impact of having our energy researchers working collaboratively and along side industry to integrate advanced materials and systems to enhance commercial off the shelf components, but it is only the first step. The University has significant renewable energy expertise spanning across several colleges and I hope this is the beginning of more projects of this type to follow in the future.” The University of Nevada, Reno is the largest Nevada public research facility and its College of Engineering is nationally recognized for top programs and research. About Sierra Nevada Corporation Sierra Nevada Corporation is a diversified high-tech electronics, engineering, and manufacturing corporation based in Sparks, Nev. SNC has grown into one of the top federal contractors, employing approximately 2,000 people in 35 U.S. locations across 20 states. After joining SNC in 1988, Eren Ozmen ’85MBA and her husband, Fatih Ozmen ’81MS (electrical engineering), who joined SNC in 1981, acquired the corporation in 1994. Eren is president and chairwoman of the board and Fatih is the company’s CEO.

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

—Keiko Weil ’87


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

college news

University of Nevada, Reno surpasses 17,000 students for first time Enrollment, retention and diversity increase; 10 more National Merit Scholars bring University total to 38 Story by Natalie Savidge, University Media Relations Specialist

For the first time in its 136-year history, the University of Nevada, Reno tops 17,000 students and surpasses the amount by a large margin, welcoming 17,679 undergraduate and graduate students to campus this fall. This marks a five percent increase over the fall 2009 enrollment of 16,862 students. Improved retention and a significant jump in the number of incoming freshmen are the primary contributors to the overall increase. The University saw a 27 percent increase in first-time freshmen, with 2,764 freshmen starting this year compared to 2,172 last fall. “This accomplished class is the largest freshmen class in the University’s history,” University President Milt Glick said. “These students will contribute to the campus atmosphere and learning environment, and they will contribute to the state’s future success.” Fall 2010 enrollment data also revealed the following: • Retention of first-time, full-time freshmen hit its highest mark ever at 79 percent. • Full-time equivalency increased 5.5 percent, an indication that more students are taking a minimum of 15-credit hours per semester. • Diversity also continues to increase. Enrollment of students-of-color is up 11 percent, including 10 percent increases in both Hispanic and Black/Non-Hispanic students. “Having a diverse student enrollment contributes to the overall education experience and prepares students for increasingly diverse workplaces and the global economy,” Glick said. The incoming freshmen class includes a continued strong representation of northern Nevada students, plus a strong increase in students from Clark County in southern Nevada. The University enrolled 752 incoming freshmen from Clark County this year compared to 442 last fall. The University’s residence halls opened their doors to 2,151 students this fall compared to 1,713 for fall 2009, a 25.6 percent increase. The University welcomes 10 new National Merit Scholars this semester. They join the 28 already enrolled, bringing the University’s total to 38. The University received sponsorship status by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation in spring 2009. One of this year’s new National Merit Scholars, Andrew Zoll, is a graduate of Northwest Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas and is now a biochemistry and molecular biology major. He chose Nevada over options at Vassar College and New York University because of “extra time in research labs, entrance into the honors program, and a guaranteed room in the best dorm on campus.” “The University is a pretty great place for a National Merit Scholar,” Zoll said. “So many of the students are helpful and welcoming and it’s great to be in an atmosphere where a lot of kids are really focused on their schooling. The University also has a combined, five-year biotechnology bachelor’s and master’s degree program that’ll be great to jumpstart my entrance into the biotechnology industry.” The University’s graduate student enrollment (3,248) is essentially the same as last year’s enrollment (3,294). Nevada’s land-grant university founded in 1874, the University of Nevada, Reno has an enrollment of more than 17,000 students. The University is home to one the country’s largest study-abroad programs and the state’s medical school, and offers outreach and education programs in all Nevada counties. For more information, visit


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

student news Society of Women Engineers The University of Nevada, Reno Section of Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has hosted Evening with Industry (EWI) as an annual event since 1995. This event brings engineering professionals and students together over dinner, providing opportunities for networking and recruitment. Students are also able to learn more about engineering professions, working environments, and career tracks in a more relaxed atmosphere than career fairs normally provide. The evening begins with a networking hour, followed by a sit-down dinner and keynote speech, and presentation of scholarships from the Sierra Nevada Section. The 2009 Evening With Industry was attended by approximately 150 students and 50 professionals representing 16 companies. The participating companies were NV Energy, IGT, PBS&J, Barrick, Newmont, CH2M Hill, Sierra Nevada Corporation, SRK Consulting, Charles River Laboratories, HDR, Arrow Electronics, Round Mountain Gold, Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, Forbes and Dunagan, Granite Construction, and Wood Rogers. This year, EWI will be held on October 26, 2010 in the Joe Crowley Student Union on the UNR campus. If you or your company would like to participate or receive more information, please contact the UNR section of SWE at

NV MESA, College of Engineering, host Science Olympiad Story by John Trent, Senior Editor, Integrated Marketing

NV MESA, the College of Engineering and the University of Nevada, Reno played host to a regional Science Olympiad for middle and high school students on Saturday, Feb. 13 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the William Raggio Building. About a dozen schools from northern Nevada competed with teams comprising of 15 students each. Twenty-two of 40 events were judged by University of Nevada, Reno graduate students and faculty. NV MESA (Nevada Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement) is part of a national effort to increase the number of underrepresented students graduating from high school, and works to ensure that these students take all of the necessary advanced coursework needed to be fully qualified for mathematics and science coursework at the college level. Event organizers say that the regional competition allows MESA students and other students from northern Nevada practice for science-, engineering-, and mathematics-based events, which will help the students to become better prepared for state and national Science Olympiad competitions. Founded in 1983, Science Olympiad has now become one of the premier science competitions in the nation, offering an alternative to science fairs by making academic competitions much like athletic events. Teams prepare throughout the year and not only learn about science, but also about teamwork and goal achievement. To find out more about the Science Olympiad, go to:

Nevada Engineering â&#x20AC;˘ Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

student news

Student Rainmakers

Campus student water organization reach extends to Guatemala and beyond Story by John Trent, Senior Editor, Integrated Marketing

The dirt roads of Guatemala are not always inviting, particularly when you are part of a group of 16 volunteers and students tightly loaded into three trucks. For Miles Becker, however, some long stretches of rough road were not about to inhibit the task at hand, which was to visit three rural Guatemalan villages and the small town of Lupina in early January, in an effort to help the residents improve their water services. “It was definitely remote,” said Becker, a Ph.D. student at the University of Nevada, Reno in the Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology program. Becker traveled to Guatemala as part of the campus’ student organization, the Student Association for International Water Issues (SAIWI). “We traveled on this little dirt road that most people in Reno probably wouldn’t want to be on.” Miles Becker, a Ph.D. student at the University, along with other members of the Student Association for International Water Issues, helps bring fresh water to residents of a Guatemalan town.

Yet Becker and his cohorts, including seven students from the University, one from UNLV, as well as faculty advisor Keith Dennett, an associate professor in civil and environmental engineering, knew exactly why they were visiting Guatemala.

Lupina, the town of about 450 households where the group spent the majority of its time, was a study in contrasts, Becker said. “It’s actually fairly advanced in some ways,” Becker said, noting that many residents traveled on motor scooters or in pickup trucks, and that several of the concrete-block homes had radios and television. On the other hand, however, was the town’s other reality. Even in a region of the world where rainfall can be plentiful, freshwater – for homes that were little more than a single room, with as many as eight people living in such cramped quarters – was hard to find. “Even though rainfall is relatively abundant, many people are without access to a secure water source,” Becker said, noting that about half of Guatemala’s 13.6 million population lives in small rural communities with limited opportunities to improve water services. When a smaller group from SAIWI had visited the same area in July, it was determined that 31 rainwater harvesting systems could offer a partial solution to the problem. The work would be difficult, but Becker and his fellow students were anxious to get started. As Becker recalled later, “When you have a chance to help people that have nothing compared to what we have here, it’s an amazing opportunity.” CONNECTING RENO’S KNOW-HOW TO LUPINA’S NEEDS The story behind Becker’s SAIWI trip to Lupina is a classic case of the world is flat and certainly much smaller than any of us could ever believe. It’s similar to how translation during the trip was accomplished, where the SAIWI students’ interpreter, Daniel Portillo, would converse with the local residents in their preferred Mayan dialect, Popti, then translate the words into Spanish, which would in turn be translated to English. “It was like a little train going back and forth,” smiled Becker, an avid outdoors man who grew up in upstate New York, attending Cornell University in his hometown of Ithaca, N.Y., as an undergraduate. Becker’s love of the outdoors was one of the reasons why he chose the University of Nevada to seek his Ph.D.: “One of the biggest draws of all was being this close to the mountains and Lake Tahoe. I had been working in Michigan and Texas before. Having the mountains here, I have to be honest with you, that was a big draw for me.” So it was several months ago, when the “little train” of communication connected the mountains of Reno to the forests of Lupina. A Reno couple, Mark and Clem Glenn, had contact with the villagers of Lupina. The Glenns, in turn, knew a Reno engineer named Cathy Fitzgerald, a rail-thin ultramarathoner and former UCLA basketball player who has made volunteering in third-world nations one of her life’s callings. “Cathy’s been hugely instrumental for the group and has participated in SAIWI trips for the past six years,” Becker said. “She’s the type of person who will spend a week in Africa digging a well. “That’s her idea of a vacation.”


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

student news Fitzgerald suggested that the Glenns contact SAIWI. From there, the mechanics of the trip were put into motion. The survey trip in July unearthed some disheartening news. The residents of Lupina had access to a clean water supply, but the water supply was being cut off every few days. Demand was outstripping supply by a large margin. “They were getting access to water only two or three days a week,” Becker said. “They were interested in finding a different access to water. So we came up with a couple of solutions, and implemented them (in January).” The enthusiasm of the students, coupled with Dennett’s engineering expertise, ensured that the project would proceed smoothly. Another couple, Robin and Steve Braun of Strong Tower Ministries, offered the students a chance to work on a couple of other projects before the group arrived in Lupina. Becker said the Brauns have lived and worked in Guatemala for the better part of a decade, offering health services and water resources aid for three small, isolated communities in the northwestern corner of Guatemala in the Zacapa region. In the village of Liquidambo, the group perforated stabilizing concrete in a wall of a hand-dug well to make it more productive and hung a slightly sloping gutter from one side of a school to capture runoff and collect it in a large storage tank. In the valley below Liquidambo, in the village of San Antonio, the SAIWI group constructed rainwater harvesting systems on three houses. Each morning, Becker remembered, the group’s work was serenaded by a local rooster. “Several hours before dawn,” he added. In the final village, El Morrito, they replaced a crushed large water storage tank. MAKING CONNECTION IN LUPINA Two days later, Becker and his fellow travelers arrived in Lupina. “In Lupina, we were hosted by a local family (the family of Jose Mendoza),” Becker recalled. “So the kids (eight in all) were particularly curious and very interactive, and wanted to play a lot of games. There was a real connection there. They knew Cathy from her visit in July, which made it kind of special. “It was very playful and very open; the kids were great. The family’s youngest son really liked Cathy. I have this picture of her with flowers in her hair.” Then Becker grinned conspiratorially, the thought of a former basketball player at UCLA having her head adorned with colorful flowers: “Cathy told me, ‘Don’t ever show that anyone.’” Flowers and smiles aside, the work was challenging, yet energizing. It was determined that the small spring servicing Lupina had a flow rate of 220 liters per day, far too low to meet the town’s needs. To bridge the gap, 28 five-feet-in-diameter, five-foot-high, 1,700-liter rainwater harvesting systems were to be made operational. “It was definitely very busy,” Becker said. “We really cranked it out. We cranked out systems for four churches, two schools and 22 homes. We did that in five or six days. We got a lot done in Lupina, that’s for sure.” As much as he felt a strong sense of satisfaction about the work, Becker said he couldn’t help but also feel a strong sense of kinship with the citizens of Lupina. He remembered one of the slower moments, when the SAIWI group was still waiting for the tanks to arrive. The group moseyed to the town’s soccer field. Vendors sold fried chicken and papas fritas. The people sipped soft drinks and beer. Music blared from a loudspeaker, and, Becker remembered later, “drowned out four men playing marimba (a lively musical instrument where keys or bars are struck by a mallet) behind one of the goals.” Recalling that moment, and others like them, when curious, smiling children were attracted to the SAIWI work like happy moths to a flame, or when thankful villagers gave the students bags of roasted peanuts from the recent peanut harvest as a token of their appreciation, or when the town’s water committee held a meeting on the best course of action to follow, and about 100 people actually showed up to voice their various raucous opinions, all of it, in Becker’s mind, “fairly Democratic and fairly organized,” came to symbolize something much more profound. “It’s a really powerful thing, to have the opportunity to have an experience like that,” Becker said. “These are families that are living in a one-room house and to do something that to us is really simple but to them makes a huge difference in their life … to know that what you’ve done is going to greatly increase their standard of living … it really does help put your own life in perspective.” Becker, who is studying avian ecology, and in particular is looking at the responses of birds to urban development, is convinced more than ever before that all spaces in the world are important. He’s a fan of green space, of course, and he’s come to understand how good things can come together for the good of all, for the betterment of a community, of a small town, of a village. Whether he is checking field sites of bird nesting areas along the Truckee River, or sitting in a cramped truck bouncing down the rough back roads of Guatemala, Becker knows now there are more similarities than differences in the world. “Everything we do,” he said, “is connected.” To find out more about SAIWI, go to:

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

student news

Persistent Paddlers

Nevada’s concrete canoe team once again placed in the top three at the national competition. Story by Mike Wolterbeek, University Media Relations

University engineering students paddled hard against the wind, choppy waters and 21 other teams to excel again in the highly competitive national concrete canoe competition, but it was more brains than brawn that earned them the second place overall spot in the event at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Cal Poly took first place in the grueling three-day event that mixes academics and athletics, and the 25-member Nevada team placed ahead of École de technologie supérieure (ETS) from Montréal in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 23rd Annual National Concrete Canoe Competition (NCCC) that ended June 19. “Congratulations to all the team members,” Manos Maragakis, dean of the College of Engineering, said upon hearing the news of the team’s strong showing. “All of us in the College of Engineering are proud of their effort, dedication and sustained success in this tough and prestigious competition.” And it’s not just paddling a canoe, the competition has four components for scoring. This year, the Wolf Pack team placed first in the technical design paper, second in the oral presentation and fifth place in the final product category. The students, paddling their 224-pound canoe “Battle Born” in several races, placed fourth overall in the racing events. “At our first meeting in August, with a young team and new design challenges, we had to decide if this year would be for fun and learning or to be competitive,” project manager and civil engineering student Kim Rafter said. “We set our goal to be in the top three at nationals so I’m thrilled with our finish. The team did great.” The four components of the canoe competition contribute 25 percent each to the team’s final score: students write a paper detailing the design and construction of their canoe; give an oral presentation on their year-long effort; the final product, including the canoe and an accompanying display that further explains their design process; and a series of five race events – men’s and women’s slalom/endurance races and men’s, women’s and co-ed sprint races. “We focused equally on all parts of the competition,” Rafter said. “The construction was the most difficult just because it takes so many hours, and we had a tough time finding some new materials required in the concrete mixture. It meant a heavier boat and tougher paddling.” Cal Poly’s canoe weighed 55 pounds less than “Battle Born” at just 170 pounds, and ETS’s canoe weighed just 180 pounds. “We’ll definitely try for a lighter boat next year. I know we can do it because last year our boat weighed just 140 pounds,” Rafter said. “An additional requirement this year was to include two recycled aggregates in the concrete mix, which was a challenge, and what we found weighed more than we had planned.”


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

student news

Following rigorous design and construction standards laid out in a 78-page document of the ASCE’s rules and regulations, the Nevada team used a creative mixture of cement, recycled aggregate, fibers and other exotic materials to build the white, amber and blue lighterthan-water canoe. It took more than eight months from design to final product. “From a short distance away, it would be impossible to see that the canoe was made from concrete,” David Sanders, faculty advisor, said. “It’s amazing how hard the students work. We, and they, have much to be proud of in their success.” Under the direction of construction manager and third year canoe team member David Jayme, the majority of the team’s 3,000 hours logged in the project were spent on construction – in a corner of the cavernous lower level of engineering’s large-structures lab. The hull of the canoe is just a half-inch thick, with carbon fiber mesh and pre-tensioned cables holding it together. The students form the mold for the hull out of high density foam and the reinforcement is tied to the form prior to casting. The thick concrete slurry is mixed in small batches by hand, and then painstakingly applied with trowels and bare hands over the mesh, like frosting on a cake. “David did a great job of keeping the team motivated, it’s tough for full-time students who work to come in and work long hours on the boat,” Rafter said. “But it’s worth it. It’s just for fun, not for class credit – this project is way worth a 3-credit class. With this project you learn as much or more than you do in class.” The mix-design team was led by Tiffany Reichert. Jake Snyder and Jeremy Hasselbauer led the presentation team and Jeff Weagel was the paddling team coach for the second year in a row. Adhering to a tough training tradition enforced by coach Weagel, the paddlers trained every weekend throughout the winter, except for extremely stormy days, at Sparks Marina in preparation for the event. In April they won the highly competitive regional competition in Chico, Calif., one of 18 around the country and Canada, to gain them a berth at the nationals. “We’re extremely proud of our performance, we now have the highest average overall placement of any team in the history of the NCCC,” Kelly Lyttle, practitioner advisor to the team said following their fifth consecutive year of national competition. “It’s an honor to represent our school, our state and our profession.” Nevada won the national competition in 2008, placed fifth in 2009, third in 2007 and sixth in 2006. Sanders, faculty advisor since 1990, said a tremendous amount of credit for the success of this year’s team goes to project manager Kim Rafter and other team leaders. In addition, alumni, such as Kelly Lyttle and Michael Taylor, provided tremendous encouragement and assistance. Lyttle, the team’s practitioner advisor, works for the University’s Center for Civil Engineering Earthquake Research and Michael Taylor works for the Nevada Department of Transportation. “Both of them have been key members since the student chapter started this amazing run,” Sanders said. The team’s National Concrete Canoe Competition past performance includes: • • • • • •

First Place Overall (2008) Most Design Points (2008) Most Race Points (2009) First Place Design Paper (2008, 2010) First Place Oral Presentation (2006) First Place Product (2007)

The concrete canoe competition provides students with a practical application of the engineering principles they learn in the classroom, along with important team and project management skills they will need in their careers. The event challenges the students’ knowledge, creativity and stamina, while showcasing the versatility and durability of concrete as a building material. The team members are undergraduates in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, which sponsors the project, and the Mechanical Engineering Department. All must be members of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)/Associated General Contractors (AGC) Student Chapter to participate. For more information about the team visit the team’s website at


Nevada Nevada Engineering Engineering •• Winter Winter 2011 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

student news

Engineers Day: ‘If you learn engineering - you can do anything’

Story by John Trent, Senior Editor, Integrated Marketing

The annual Engineers Day provided many moments of entertainment and wonder for dozens of high school students who converged upon the University of Nevada, Reno, campus on Tuesday, April 6. But perhaps the defining moment occurred during a demonstration of motors, control systems and fiber optics by College of Engineering undergraduates in the college’s Electronics Demonstration Lab. Andrew Jurado, a senior from Reno majoring in electrical engineering, paused for a moment as he showed a group of students from the Church Academy of Reno how a Van De Graff Generator works. (What’s a Van De Graff Generator? Think metallic, roundish, space age-looking generator that through electrical current can lift one’s hair to resemble a disheveled, static-y Albert Einstein.). “You know,” Jurado said, “if you learn engineering, you can learn to do just about anything.” So it was throughout the series of presentations and demonstrations held during the popular event, which was sponsored by the College of Engineering and the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering. Engineers Day drew high schools from rural and western Nevada, as well as Eastern California.

Jorge Gonzalez

“The tour showed how fun engineering can be.”

“It was neat,” said Kenneth Mickey, a 16-year-old Church Academy student who plans on attending Nevada upon graduation. “There was a whole lot more to do with engineering than I had ever thought about.” Robert Franchini, a senior about to graduate from the Church Academy, agreed:

During their tour, Mickey and Franchini saw the different faces of engineering, from mining engineering techniques to rock mechanics to robotics and artificial intelligence work through computer science and engineering, to large-scale structure testing done by students in civil engineering. The Robotics Research Lab offered up a compelling view of the future when, Ph.D. student Richard Kelley explained, “robots will move out of the factories where they help build cars, and into our homes and offices. To do that, they have to have social intelligence. We’re here to help smooth out that process.” Kelley carefully explained the difference between computer science and engineering and mechanical engineering by showing the students a robot named “Marie.” “This is a French robot,” Kelley said, his face completely deadpan. “To work on Marie, you have to remove her head. That’s why her full name is Marie Antoinette.” More seriously, Kelley said after drawing a good round of laughter from the visiting students, “What we do is focus on the programming, the building and design of A.I. The mechanical engineers build the body, and we build the mind.” Much of the work done in the lab, Kelley said, was through Defense Department grants, with a major emphasis placed on the social sciences, game theory and even economics. “We are creating robots that can use knowledge they learn rather than what they are programmed with,” Kelley said. The robots were a big hit with the students. “That was really neat,” Mickey said afterward.


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

student news In the Electronics Demonstration Lab, Jurado and his fellow senior electrical engineering major, Matt Foster, explained that although their studies and research are challenging and strenuous, there is also a sense of enjoyment. They pulled out a Frisbee with complex circuitry that had been specifically designed by students for the sport Ultimate Frisbee. Called “The Ultimate Ref,” the implement had the capacity to keep score and to keep track of tosses, among other things. “We’re playing all the time,” Foster said of how he views his studies. In the large-scale structures lab, civil engineering student Jorge Gonzalez discussed the lab’s international reach. “We have a full-scale test of a curved bridge coming up in the next few days,” he said. “We have professors who work all over the country and the world. We’ve had three professors from here who have recently traveled to Chile and Haiti to help with the understanding of how those earthquakes affected the buildings there.” Taking the students deep into the bowels of the large-scale structures lab, Gonzalez showed the pride of all civil engineering students, the concrete canoe. The canoe, built with specially designed, lightweight, floatable concrete, is annually among the best in the country. The College of Engineering’s canoe placed fifth in the National Concrete Canoe Competition in 2009, and won the national championship in 2008. “We have about 20 students on the team,” Gonzalez explained. “It’s a full project. It’s six months of preparation and work.” Then Gonzalez smiled, and, like the students who had presented before him, aptly captured the theme of the day. “It’s hard work, but also a lot of fun,” he said. “You learn so much from engineering.”

The sky is no longer the limit for University of Nevada, Reno senior Computer science major Katie Browne has two NASA internships, NASA Academy under her belt Story by Krystal Pyatt, University Media Relations

Carson City native Katie Browne is shooting for the stars, and she’s well on her way after completing an internship this summer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Last summer, she completed an internship with NASA Ames Research Center in California, another division of NASA and turned down an invitation to return there so she could work with robotics at Goddard. First Ames, then Goddard, and now, after her graduation from the University of Nevada, Reno in December, Browne will begin working full-time at the Goddard Center at the end of January. “It’s the only organization I’ve ever wanted to work for,” Browne, a 22-year-old University of Nevada student with cerebral palsy, said. “I have been working on getting a robot to autonomously navigate and map out an unknown terrain. It’s a dream come true to be able to continue with NASA.” Browne attributes her success to ENTRY POINT!, a program that helps disabled students find internships with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and NASA. “ENTRY POINT has opened a lot of doors for me,” Browne said. “It places disabled people in a truly amazing internship and allows them to shine. Because of my Goddard internship, I was able to turn a few heads and got offered a job there.” In her future, Browne eventually sees obtaining her master’s degree in computer science. She was also able to participate in the NASA Goddard Academy in Maryland during the summer. NASA Goddard Academy is a leadership program for the future leaders of NASA, otherwise known as “NASA boot camp.” Academy students worked in labs, interacted with retirees of NASA and participated in a group project outside of individual projects. For more information about ENTRY POINT!, go to Editor’s note: Katie is also one of the Feigin Scholarship recipients and met with Stuart Feigin last year. For more information on this scholarship, please contact Maryanne Cameron at Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

student news

Students shine in the annual Governor’s Cup Competition Students take on the annual Governor’s Cup Competition, dominating the competition for both graduate and undergraduates Photo and Story by Claudene Wharton, University Media Relations

“President Glick, are you having fun?” Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki called out as he emceed the Nevada Governor’s Cup Competition April 22, watching one team after another from the University of Nevada, Reno ascend the podium to receive their awards, and the cash that came with them. President Milt Glick smiled graciously and nodded as teams from Nevada, Reno took home six of the seven awards presented at the Atlantis that night at the annual collegiate business plan competition presented by Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. Many of the teams were interdisciplinary, containing students from the College of Engineering and the College of Business, for example, and many of the teams focused on producing green products or using green technology. “Our students are interested in renewable and green technologies,” said Mano Misra, professor of chemical and materials engineering Graduate Student Competition Winners Glyzen Technologies with University of Nevada, Reno, at the University, who served as a faculty advisor for two of the President Milt Glick winning teams. “The Glyzen Technologies and Nevada Paper Fuels team members are highly motivated, and they spent a lot of time in the lab to get it done. I am pleased to see that their hard work finally paid off.” The teams took first place in the graduate student competition and third place in the undergraduate student competition, respectively. The first- and second-place winners of both the graduate and undergraduate competitions will travel to Las Vegas to compete in the Tri-State Awards May 18, where they will compete with students from Arkansas and Oklahoma for awards totaling $90,000. All of the competitions are sponsored by The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. Undergraduate Student Competition Winners The team members of Nevada’s Outbox Records, LLC were elated to hear their names called as the winners of first place and $20,000 in Nevada’s undergraduate student competition. Team captain Danny Fiorentini, a management and marketing major, said the win was very sweet and not without obstacles. A couple of weeks earlier, the same day the students learned they were finalists in the competition, his younger brother and Outbox Records teammate, Joey, was diagnosed with cancer. They have since learned that Joey’s prognosis is very good, as the type of cancer he was diagnosed with has a 98-percent cure rate. So, the brothers and teammate Christopher Aarskaug are off to Las Vegas to compete in the Tri-State Competition in a couple of weeks with their product that is based on a concept similar to iTunes. “We are a fully digital, environmentally friendly recording label,” Danny explained. “We have nine artists so far who can record in studios anywhere, give their songs to us, and we can make them high quality recordings for people to download. We’re only going to produce hard copies, such as CDs or maybe USB drives, in very small quantities, as limited editions – collectors’ items. That way, we keep our overhead low, don’t have a lot of physical inventory, and are environmentally friendly.” Placing just behind the Outbox team, capturing second place and $10,000 in the undergraduate competition was Nevada’s Innovative Protection Systems. Team captain John Feeney, an electrical engineering major, said his team is focusing on a market they know: college students and their parents. Their product is a hand-held, mobile-safety device that would spray a pepper-spray substance, as well as take audio and video of attackers.


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

student news “It will be pocket-sized and weigh no more than one or two pounds,” Feeney said. “And, it will be reusable and refillable. Our goal is to keep the price point relatively low, no more than $129. It would be a great add-on for students’ safety when enrolling in college.” Feeney said they work directly with universities to make the device an option for purchase when students enroll. He also sees targeting universities and colleges as a way to get good exposure and eventually expand their marketing to a broader audience. Nevada Paper Fuels completed the Nevada, Reno sweep of the undergraduate competition, receiving third place. They developed a process to convert waste paper into ethanol, which is “added to gasoline to reduce emissions and also offsets some of the petroleum we have to bring in,” explained team captain Cameron Howard, a materials science and engineering major. Their process uses a proprietary catalyst to break down and convert the materials that is quicker than the fermentation processes that are currently used to produce ethanol. Graduate Student Competition Winners In the graduate student competition, Nevada’s Glyzen Technologies took first place, earning a $20,000 check. They developed a way to convert the waste products from biodiesel production into clean and renewable energy sources, such as hydrogen. “This method produces very low emissions, compared to traditional methods of making hydrogen,” team captain and chemical engineering student York Smith said. “It’s cleaner and cheaper.” The team is also producing glyceric acid, used in cosmetics, from the biodiesel waste. “It’s a small niche market right now, but besides the cosmetics industry, there is huge application potential in biomedical products and other plastics,” Smith said. “There is limited production of it right now, but this could help alleviate the limited availability.” Smith came to Nevada from Michigan in 2004 “for the skiing,” he laughed. “But, I just fell in love with the place after seeing the campus and meeting with the faculty. We’ve received great support from the University, the department, Dr. Misra, and local businesses and investors.” Smith says his team is going to take the suggestions they received from the judges and local business professionals and incorporate them into their plan for the Tri-State Competition, a sentiment many of the winning teams expressed, including Nevada’s Biometric Recognition, Inc., which took second place and earned $10,000 in the undergraduate competition. Their product is a security system that identifies a person by the touch of the hand. “Products similar to ours are out there,” said team captain Holly Soltani, who is receiving her Masters of Accountancy in May. “But, ours is more accurate and less expensive. The competitors’ product can identify up to 500 people for about $3,000. Ours can identify up to 10,000 for $1,295 retail, and less if sold wholesale. And, you can always add more memory to ours if you need include even more users.” Lt. Governor’s Award Winner Nevada’s NOVAE Nanotechnology won the Lt. Governor’s Award, given to the team that best used clean, renewable energy technologies. Their high-tech, single-walled carbon nanotubes could have multiple applications, including use in electronics, light displays and hydrogen storage. For now, the team plans to focus on the product’s application in the solar panels industry to increase the efficiency of solar panels from 27 percent to about 50 percent, according to team captain and chemical engineering major Eric Hill. For more information, including all winning team members and advisors, go to

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

student news

National Merit and Presidential Scholar Reception Story by Sally Casas, Dean’s Office

The Dean, faculty and staff at the College of Engineering, held the inaugural reception honoring the academic achievements of the National Merit and Presidential Scholars enrolled in the College for the fall 2010 semester. Advisement, Recruitment and Retention Coordinator, Meg Fitzgerald, organized the event on August 20, 2010, which was attended by students and their family and friends. The National Merit students each received a laptop computer and the Presidential Scholars received a Kindle. Both devices are to encourage them to continue their hard work and succeed in their chosen program. “The focus of the College of Engineering is on excellence, “ said Dean Manos Maragakis, “and this group of high achieving students is the best example of excellence and success in our undergraduate program. We want to offer them, and the rest of our students, a first class, globally competitive engineering education and we want to challenge them so that they can use their talents and succeed.” Our successful students include: Thomas Ambarian • Justin Donat • Jared Rhizor • Robert Roeder • Sarah Carl • Rigel Hanbury MacCallister Higgins • Alexander Jacobsen • Jonathan Jay • Benjamin McCormack • Noah McCoy Benjamin Pearson • Emily Ruskowitz • Timothy Sweet • Max Wynne • Nishok Yadav

Chalk Creek Sulfate Reducing Wetland Pilot Project Story by Keith White, CEE Graduate Student

The Chalk Creek Sulfate Reducing Wetland Pilot Project is a collaboration of the City of Reno Public Works Department, the Truckee River Fund, JBR Environmental Consultants, Inc. and College of Engineering researchers in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The Cities of Reno and Sparks identified Chalk Creek, which discharges into the Truckee River, as a source of elevated levels of total dissolved solids (TDS), nitrogen, and phosphorous. The Truckee River has a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for these three constituents. Chalk Creek is a historically ephemeral creek, and levels of TDS appear to be naturally occurring though artificially transported into Chalk Creek as a result of urban irrigation, which leaches out sulfate and other elements as it infiltrates through the subsurface of the watershed. The City of Reno investigated ways to reduce the TDS in the creek and identified funding to test a pilot scale anaerobic wetland as a low impact, natural mechanism to reduce TDS. The wetland is designed to reduce TDS in Chalk Creek by reducing sulfate, the largest component of the TDS. Naturally occurring sulfatereducing bacteria that reduce sulfate to sulfides are the main mechanism for reducing TDS in this bioreactor. The 100 by 40 foot wetland is located in Rainbow Ridge Park near Robb Drive and Simons Drive in northwest Reno. A portion of the water in Chalk Creek is diverted to the wetland where it filters vertically down to collection pipes at the bottom of the 4 foot deep wetland cell. Flow into the wetland is controlled by a weir and the wetland was designed to achieve a minimum of 4 day hydraulic residence time, the minimum time needed for sulfate-reducing bacteria to operate. The design of the wetland was optimized to provide a more conducive environment for the bacteria by creating a constant anaerobic environment, adding carbon to the carbon limited system, and reducing the pH of the inflow by injecting carbon dioxide into the water. Construction was completed in June 2010, and results have shown an average of almost 10% (approximately 200 mg/L) reduction of sulfate between the inflow and outflow. The results of this project will be used to determine the feasibility of upscaling a wetland to treat water in other locations showing similar water quality trends in the watershed as well as creating similar wetlands in other watersheds that exhibit high TDS due to similar geology and urbanization patterns.


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

student news

Cities of the future take root in College of Engineering Story by John Trent, Senior Editor, Integrated Marketing

Years from now, when cities of the world have incorporated cutting-edge engineering and development ideas that make them sustainable and safe, residents can point to gatherings like January’s regional Future City 2010 Competition, which was hosted by the College of Engineering and held on the University of Nevada, Reno campus.| It was there that seventh and eighth grade students from northern Nevada applied seemingly futuristic engineering concepts in designing the ultimate city of tomorrow, as part of the “Future City” competition. The 12 local teams were part of 34,000 seventh and eighth graders nationally. The students put forward innovative ideas and designs for a city of tomorrow. The regional competition was held Jan. 22-23 in the College of Engineering’s Harry Reid Engineering Laboratory. The competition’s overall winner, Northern Nevada Home School’s “City of Esperanza” project, eventually finished third in the national final, held in February in Washington, D.C. The team’s members included Jamie Poston, Bailey Watkins and Julianna Lucas. The value of such an experience cannot be underestimated, said Garth Oksol, a project manager for Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) who has been involved with the competition as an organizer or judge for the past seven years. “The Future City Competition is a great vehicle to introduce the students to the wide world of engineering,” Oksol said. “One of the common things I hear every year is, ‘I had no idea how much engineering goes into everything,’ or, ‘Engineers are involved in just about everything.’ “The competition also gets the students working together, solving problems, and working towards a common goal. They also learn communication and resolution skills. Any opportunity to supplement the standardized education that the students receive during classes is a great opportunity to broaden their views and challenge them in new ways.” Oksol said the event was also an excellent way for the College of Engineering to show potential engineers how research in the field is conducted, and that, ultimately, engineering can be a fun and rewarding career. As part of January’s northern Nevada regional competition, students were given tours of the college’s large-scale structures, mechanical engineering and robotics research laboratories. “The College of Engineering’s support through the years has been invaluable,” Oksol said. “The students truly enjoy the tours give by the college’s students and learning about what happens in college laboratories. Most of these students have a passion for furthering their education and having the competition located in an institution of higher learning is a unique and valuable experience for them. “Partnerships like this with the College of Engineering are vital to getting the word out that engineering is a big part of what makes the world go round.” Michele Dennis, an RTC engineer, has also been a longtime fixture at the competition as a mentor and judge. She said she has always been impressed by the dedication of the students who enter Future City. “In addition to the computer model they must create, they work as a team to construct a scale model of a portion of their city using recycled materials, they write a city narrative and an essay which addresses a different, complex engineering issue each year, they prepare a five- to seven-minute presentation highlighting all the aspects of their city, and then, after presenting to a judging panel of engineering and related professionals, they are ‘grilled’ by this panel for approximately ten minutes,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, plus the students are really on their toes during the question and answer session. “It’s amazing what they accomplish and how much knowledge they acquire during the presentation for the competition. The students involved are truly inspiring.”


Nevada Nevada Engineering Engineering •• Winter Winter 2011 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

student news

Research Symposium highlights best of university’s brightest Story by Mike Wolterbeek, University Media Relations

Four years ago, when Nichole Joslyn first enrolled at the University of Nevada, Reno, she had given little, if any, thought to the concept of undergraduate research. “No, I didn’t know much about it,” said Joslyn, who’s a graduate of Reed High School in Sparks. She very quickly learned, however, that undergraduate research at the university has long been a point of emphasis and pride. Now a member of the Student Ambassador program at Nevada, where undergraduates give tours of the campus to prospective students, Joslyn said undergraduate research has become one of her key talking points. “A lot of times when the people come and I’m mingling with the prospective students, I’m always explaining to them, ‘We have a wonderful research program here at the university … the university is so supportive of you when you get involved with research, even if you’re only an undergraduate,’” she said. Schinthia Islam

Then Joslyn, a biochemistry and molecular biology major who will graduate in May and then will attend the University of Nevada School of Medicine in the fall, smiled: “A lot of other universities kind of look down at you regarding research: ‘You’re an undergraduate. You don’t really know what you’re doing.’ “But here at Nevada, they’ve always been so supportive of the work we’ve been doing.” Nowhere was the evidence more clear than during the Nevada Undergraduate Research Symposium, held April 13-14 in the Joe Crowley Student Union. Joslyn and more than 50 other undergraduates spent the two days giving oral and poster presentations on an amazing array of research projects that ran the gamut from the hard sciences to photography and non-fiction writing. “We had artists and computer scientists and biologists, all undergraduate researchers, all sitting through each other’s talks, being exposed to thoughts and concepts that I’m sure they’ve not been exposed to in the classes they’ve been taking,” said Mike Collopy, director of the university’s Office of Undergraduate Research.

Charles Coronella, CME

Collopy, a veteran researcher himself who has either conducted or coordinated several important, complex multi-million-dollar grant-funded research projects, said the students impressed with their professionalism, solid science and ability to communicate in an engaging manner. “The quality of the talks were as good as I’ve seen at any meeting I’ve been at in the last several years, and I told the students that,” he said. “Two of the students out of the art program are currently doing shows in town with their photography, and one of them is publishing a book. There are students who are already scheduled to go to graduate school. “I think (undergraduate research) has really jump-started some careers. These are students who are really talented, really bright and really motivated. It was rejuvenating to me. It was a fun experience.” Senior chemical and metallurgical engineering and biochemistry major Schinthia Islam couldn’t have agreed more. Islam, from Reno, conducted a study on the reaction kinetics of three different types of biomass. The ultimate aim of such work, she explained, is to develop ways to make biomass a much more viable form of energy, one that could be produced on an industrial scale.

Victor Vasquez, CME


“It’s just a matter of making it more efficient, making the conversion from a petroleum-based energy society to one that relies more on unconventional sources, like biomass,” she said. “Making it more efficient is the most important thing right now.”

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

student news Islam, who will attend graduate school in pharmacology, said the symposium was both a bit frightening and fun. “It’s been a little nerve-wracking,” she admitted. “This is actually my first time presenting a poster like this. I’m very excited. I had a lot of fun doing the poster. It’s been a very good experience. I know I’m going to be doing a lot more posters in the future, so this has really helped.” Islam, whose faculty mentors were Charles Coronella and Victor Vasquez of the Department of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, said her project gave her a much greater awareness about a field of research she was not aware of originally. “This was an experience that I’m thankful to have had,” she said. “It really helped me get familiar with a world that I didn’t really know all that much about. Until I started this project, I didn’t really know about biofuels. I always thought, ‘Biofuels? I should just keep buying regular gas.’ “Doing this project has really opened my eyes and really made me appreciate that there are so many other ways to deal with our energy crisis.” Collopy said the Office of Undergraduate Research, which was one of the event’s co-sponsors, has made a concerted effort to support such learning. He said the Office of the Vice President for Research internally funds up to 40 undergraduate research projects each year. “This creates opportunities for 40 students who wouldn’t otherwise have such an opportunity,” he said. “Think about that: over the period of 10 years, that’s 400 students who will benefit. These students are what the campus would call our best and brightest. They’re motivated, they’re hard-working and they’re successful. It adds a whole new dimension to the students’ experience while they’re at the university.” Joslyn was emblematic of how undergraduate research seed money could pay off in meaningful ways. She said the Undergraduate Research Symposium was her fourth time presenting original research. In addition to the undergraduate research support award she had received from the university, last summer she also received funding the National Science Foundation’s EPSCoR program. “It’s really a cool thing,” she said of the support she’s received. “At the university you have the general undergrad, the honors undergrad support grants, and you have things like the NSF EPSCoR. So there’s a variety of different grants out there, and grants within grants. The variety is just tremendous. The great thing about our undergraduate research program at the university is that they’re always there to help. If you have any questions, their office is always open.” Joslyn, whose research project was focused on creating both symmetrical and asymmetrical molecules, with the long-range hope that such work could lead to a new generation of solar conversion panels or flexible SIM cards, credited her faculty mentor, Sean Casey of the Department of Chemistry, with giving her the initial encouragement to follow a path of research. “I was taking biophysical chemistry with Dr. Casey, and I had this huge connection with the physical chemistry, the surface chemistry, that we were learning,” she said. “I met him after class one day and told him I would be really interested in doing a project. That was almost two years ago. It’s kind of taken off since then.” Joslyn said research has reaffirmed the strong initial connection she felt with chemistry. “It’s just been so great,” she said. “I’ve realized that I really enjoy it, that I understand all the different mechanisms, all these incredible interactions that molecules can have. I’ve kind of grown a passion for it over time, and I’ve realized that’s where my connection was with science.” Plus, Joslyn admitted, having an audience to share one’s work – such as those who attended her presentation during the Undergraduate Research Symposium – was a nice reward for all of her hard work. “It’s stressful, but once you’re here and talking to people, it’s kind of cool to find people who are interested in what you’re doing,” she said. In addition to the university’s Office of Undergraduate Research, the symposium was sponsored by the National Science Foundation EPSCoR program, Nevada System of Higher Education, and UNLV’s Center for Mathematics and Science Education.

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

student news

WISE offers a safe haven for female science students Story by Mary Hunton

Science and engineering are often considered male driven fields. In an atmosphere where they are outnumbered by men, sometimes it may be difficult for women to find a sense of community for themselves. This is what the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program aims to create. “Sometimes it’s hard for really bright women who are interested in math and science to find others who are like them,” said Gina Tempel, the WISE director. “This (program) gives them a chance to really get to know other women well and connect with them well.”

and Tempel believes that this is a solid beginning.

WISE is a living-learning community for female freshman on campus who are majoring in a science, math, or engineering program. This year there are 34 girls in the program. They all live together in one wing of Argenta hall,

“Because they’re all living on the same dorm floor and they also happen to have an RA who is a former WISE student from two years ago they have that sense of community,” she said. Emily Wozniak, the dorm RA, was one of the first girls to get involved in WISE her freshman year. She stands by the program and the support it offers the women in such a competitive field. “This community for women on campus is a really great opportunity for these girls to grow socially, to grow academically, and to have that social network and that support that they need in those really difficult classes,” she said. Having women in male dominated fields is important. According to Tempel, gender diversity in scientific disciplines is vital. “We talk about diversity in a lot of ways,” she said, “but I think in the sciences and engineering women bring a different point of view that men don’t inherently have.” That is one of the main purposes of WISE: to keep women in these fields. According to Tempel, they hope to enhance the number of women who get involved in science and engineering degree programs and to keep those women there. “Studies have shown that when women develop a sense of identity within their discipline that they have a tendency to stay,” Tempel said. This is an idea that Wozniak agrees with. “If you don’t have a support system in those classes you would probably end up just dropping the class,” she said, “but with that network, those study groups, I think that keeps (women) in those classes.” The girls do a lot together. Aside from living in the same wing of the dorm, they also had a 24 hour retreat at Lake Tahoe after orientation for the girls to get to know one another. They took part in Race for the Cure, and plan on doing the Relay for Life next spring as well. Not only are these activities to bring the girls closer together, but Tempel also hopes to raise the community’s awareness of the program. “Hopefully we’ll have people asking about what we are,” she said. “We would like to raise our profile.”


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

student awards Awards and recognition Chemical & Metallurgical Engineering

Narasimaharao Kondamudi



• Regents Scholar Award 2010 • Outstanding International Graduate Student Advised by Manoranjan Misra

Vance Jaeger • 3rd Place in the Paper Competition at the AIChE Western Regional Conference 2010 • 2010 Department Senior Scholar Advised by Victor Vasquez


Melissa Vandiver 4

• 2010 Dean’s Senior Scholar

Cameron Howard • 2010 Department Outstanding Service Award

Civil & Environmental Engineering


Andrea Achilli 6

• NSF-AEESP Grand Challenge Student Paper Award at the Association of Environmental Engineering & Science Professors 2009 Conference Advised by Amy Childress and Eric Marchand

Sarira Motaref • 2010 James D. Cooper Student Award at the International Bridge Conference Advised by M. Saiid Saiidi


Kerri Hickenbottom 8

• Clare Mahannah Scholarship, National Water Resources Assoc. 2010 Conference Advised by Amy Childress and Eric Marchand

Dante Lorenzetti

• Summer Research Award Advised by Eric Marchand


Xuan Wang

• 1st Place Best Student Paper 2009, Institute of Transportation Engineers Intermountain Section Advised by Zong Tian 10

Patrick Hu • • •


2nd Place Best Student Paper 2009, Institute of Transportation Engineers Intermountain Section 1st Place Student Essay Competition 2010, Intelligent Transportation Society of America Winner of the 2010 Western District Student Paper Award, ITE Region 6 Advised by Zong Tian

ASCE Student Chapter 12

• 2010 Letter of Honorable Mention from the American Society of Civil Engineers Advised by David Sanders

Katie Bowden • 2010 Department Senior Scholar

1. Narasimaharao Kondamudi • 2. Vance Jaeger • 3. Melissa Vandiver • 4. Cameron Howard 5. Andrea Achilli • 6. Sarira Motaref • 7. Kerri Hickenbottom • 8. Dante Lorenzetti 9. Xuan Wang • 10. Patrick Hu • 11. ASCE Student Chapter • 12. Katie Bowden

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

student awards

Awards and recognition Milad Oliaee


• Senior Scholar, Fall 2009

Jeffrey Weagel 2

• 2010 Department Outstanding Service Award

Computer Science & Engineering

Valjean Clark

• Honors Undergraduate Research Award, 2009-2010 HURA Recipient Advised by Bobby Bryant


Steve Komarov 4

• Honors Undergraduate Research Award, 2009-2010 HURA Recipient Advised by Sergiu Dascalu and Nancy LaTourrette

Joel Larsen • Undergraduate Research Opportunity Award (UROP) 2009-2010 Advised by Sergiu Dascalu


Amol Ambardekar 6

• Outstanding International Graduate Student, Graduate Student Association Awards 2010 Advised by Mircea Nicolescu

Muhanna Muhanna

• Outstanding International Graduate Student, Graduate Student Association Awards 2010 Advised by Sergiu Dascalu


Justin Bode

• 2010 Department Senior Scholar Award 8

James Marble • 2010 Department Outstanding Service

PC-Doctor Programming Contest • 1st Place: Alexis Oyama | 2nd Place: Mustafa Kilavuz | 3rd Place: Mark Harmer | Amazon Gift Card Winner: Gareth Ferneyhough Team Leader Hector Uturbia



ACM Programming Contest

• Upper Division - 1st Place: Evander Jo | 2nd Place: T.J. Gaffney | 3rd Place: Alexis Oyama • Lower Division - 1st Place: Christopher Salls | 2nd Place: Michael Gallaspy | 3rd Place: Emily Hand Advised by Sushil Louis

Electrical & Biomedical Engineering

IEEE Region 6 Student Design Competition 2010 • Howard Rapp | Claire Shelton | Dan Stefani | Kira Lay | Fred Lissau | Erik Madsen | Jose Cordero Nimai Bhatt | Aaron Thole Advised by Nelson Publicover and Yantao Shen

IEEE Region 6 Student Technical Paper Competition 2010 • Ryan Puccinelli | Andrew Jurado | Erik Madsen Advised by Mehdi Etezadi 1. Milad Oliaee • 2. Jeffrey Weagel • 3. Steve Komarov • 4. Joel Larsen • 5. Amol Ambardekar • 6. Muhanna Muhanna 7. Justin Bode • 8. James Marble • 9. IEEE Student Design • 10. IEEE Student Technical


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

student awards Awards and recognition Roger Przybyla


• University of Nevada, Reno Undergraduate Research Program Award 2010 Advised by Cansin Y. Evrenosoglu 2

Issa Beekun • NSF EPSCoR Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program Award (UROP) Advised by Cansin Y. Evrenosoglu

Claire Shelton


• 2010 Department Senior Scholar

Jason Daniel Stefani 4

• 2010 Department Outstanding Service Award • 2nd Place at North American Power Symposium (NAPS)

Howard Rapp • 2010 Senior Service Award 5

Mechanical Engineering

ASME Student Professional Development Conference 6

• Old Guard Technical Web Page Competition: 1st Place Thomas Kerr • Old Guard Oral Presentation Contest: 2nd Place Bryan Young | 3rd Place Ruth Benthin Advised by Kwang Kim

ASME Human Powered Vehicle Challenge 2010 7


• 3rd Place: Drag Event Team Members: Ben Baxter | Ruth Benthin | Megan Bounds | Mike Chilton | CJ Dudley Marshall Grill | Travis Hagen | Chase Hancock | Thomas Kerr | Doug Lay | Brandon Makridis John Malinowski | Triton Manzo | Kira Marsh | Jack McCormack | Kristi McGinley | Kevin Muran Chris Newman | Jim Ross | Austin Thibault Advised by Jonghwan Suhr

Max Fleming • NSF EPSCoR Climate Change Program Award 2010 - 2nd Place Poster Competition • 2010 Departmental Senior Scholar Advised by Jonghwan Suhr


10 10

Anpalaki Ragavan • Graduate Student Association Awards 2010, 3rd Place Paper A Competition Advised by Cahit Evrensel (ME) and Peter Krumpe (Med School)

Doc Harris Speaking Competition 2010 11 3

• 1st Place: Ruth Benthin | 2nd Place: Bryan Young | 3rd Place: Kristi McGinley Advised by Kwang Kim

Heather Culbertson

• Senior Scholar Spring 2010 Advised by Cahit Evrensel

Thomas Kerr

• 2010 Department Outstanding Service Award

1. Roger Przybyla • 2. Issa Beekun • 3. Claire Shelton • 4. Jason Daniel Stefani • 5. Howard Rapp 6. ASME Students • 7. HPV “Goose” • 8. Max Fleming • 9. Anpalaki Ragavan • 10. Heather Culbertson • 11. Thomas Kerr

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality


Ruthe Margaret Schwake Berryman • 1924 - 2009 Ruthe passed away on Saturday, November 28, 2009, after living 85 years the body that always worked overtime said it was enough. She is the daughter of Reinhold and Charlotte Schwake who originally emigrating from Germany in 1906 and was the youngest of six in Minden, NV where her father and mother were some of the original ranchers in the Carson Valley. She was an employee of the University of Nevada, Reno for 27 years where nothing happened in the College of Engineering without her knowledge and most likely her help. She retired in 1993.

Margaret F. Bowker • 1941 - 2010 Margaret F. (Peggy) Bowker earned her B.S. in engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno in 1978. She has the distinction of being the first female Civil Engineer to be licensed in the state of Nevada. Peggy was an expert in water hydrology and flood control. She worked in floodplain management in both Arizona and Nevada and consulted for FEMA. Peggy was the president, owner and principal engineer for Nimbus Engineers of Reno. She was the recipient of both the Pioneer Award and Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Floodplain Managers.

Philip H. Goodman • 1954 - 2010 Dr. Phil Goodman, a professor with the School of Medicine and College of Engineering adjunct faculty member, passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack on Aug. 18, 2010 in Reno. He was born in Chicago, IL in 1954 to Leonard and Sydelle Goodman. He attended the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana for one year before transferring to UC Irvine where he graduated with a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Physics. He attended Medical School at UC Irvine and completed his Internal Medicine Residency there as well. Phil demonstrated a lifelong hunger for knowledge. After his residency, he began his long association as a researcher and teacher with the University of Nevada Reno School of Medicine in 1983. He was appointed to a full professorship at UNR in 1995. The most important part of his life was his family, to whom he gave boundless devotion, guidance and love. His marriage to Nancy Brick in 1982 in Riverside, California marked the beginning of a long and loving partnership. Their two daughters, Sara and Anne, were the center of their world. He is survived by his wife Nancy; daughters Sara and Anne; mother Sydelle Goodman; sisters Lauri Grenner (Robert), Jeri Kuddes (Mike), and Susy Levinstein (Tom); father-in-law Isidore Brick; sister-in-law Marilyn Taft (Kyle), as well as many nieces, nephews and friends. To honor Dr. Goodman’s lifelong dedication to outstanding research and medicine, his family is directing the establishment of the Philip H. Goodman Award in Postgraduate Research. The family respectfully requests that memorial contributions be made to this cause in lieu of flowers. For contribution information a please see

The faculty and staff of the College of Engineering extend their sincere condolences on the passing of these friends and alumni. If you have information on the passing of any alumni member, please send this information to: Sally Casas at or mail the information to Sally Casas, College of Engineering, Dean’s Office, Mail Stop 256, UNR, Reno, NV 89557.


Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

memoriam Andrea Pelter • 1929 - 2010 Andrea (Ginocchio) Pelter ’50 (business administration) died Jan. 25, 2010. A third generation Renoite, Andrea was born on Feb. 21, 1929, to Andrew and Viola (Chilton, Barnes) Ginocchio. She was president and owner of Reno Iron Works for 35 years. Andrea met her future husband, Bill Pelter, in Marcella Barkley’s fourth grade class at Mount Rose School in 1939. They went through Reno schools together and received their bachelor’s degrees from the University of Nevada, and married in 1954. Upon graduation, Andrea, with the sponsorship of Sen. Pat McCarran, was accepted in the U.S. Department of State, spending a year in post graduate work in Washington D.C. followed by two years assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru. Chosen for the University Foundation its first year, Andrea remained involved in the Foundation for 25 years. As strong advocates of a medical school in Nevada, the Pelters lobbied the legislature relentlessly. With Sen. Paul Laxalt and Dr. Bruce Douglas at the helm, a group of Nevadans, including Andi, lobbied the National Science Foundation in Washington D.C. in support of the College of Engineering Earthquake Center. The University’s Reno Iron Works’ Scholarship has been in effect for over 75 years. In 1967, Andrea joined the first volunteer lecturer series for the College of Engineering. She was the first female on any engineering committee when she joined the College of Engineering Advisory Board in 1981. She served on the Arts and Science Board, tax and legislative committees from the late 1960’s to the 1980’s. In 1986 she received The President’s Medal; in 1987 she was named Distinguished Nevadan, and in 1993 awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University of Nevada. And recently was recognized with the University of Nevada Service Award. Andrea is preceded in death by her parents, brothers Ted and Charles and her loving husband of 52 years Bill. She is survived by her daughter Bryn (Jeff), son Bill (Michele), son Drew (Traci) and her four cherished grandsons, Trevor, Chase, William and Elliott. Three nieces and three nephews also survive. Memorial contributions may be made to the College of Engineering, University of Nevada Medical School, or the Orvis School of Nursing at the University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557.

Ross W. Smith • 1927 - 2009 Ross W. Smith, professor emeritus, passed away on Dec. 10, 2009. Smith was born in Turlock, Calif., in 1927. He attended Hartnell College (A.A.), University of Nevada (B.S.), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.S.), and Stanford University (Ph.D.). Ross worked for the United States Geological Survey, Colorado School of Mines Research Institute, and Consolidated Copper Mines; he also served in the Armed Forces as a surveyor and mapping specialist. Smith became Professor Emeritus for the University of Nevada, Reno after teaching in the Chemical and Materials Engineering Department for 32 years. During his career at UNR, Smith served as department chair for many years and was awarded UNR Foundation Professor (1988-1991) and University Distinguished Professor for 2001. He was a visiting professor/research scientist at the University of South Australia, University of Newcastle, University of Melbourne, University of Queensland, University of Cape Town, Universdade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre, Brazil) and VTT Research Centre (Outokompu, Finland). His research interests were many; they included: abstraction of metal ions from aqueous solution by microorganisms and aquaphytes; flotation of microorganisms; remediation of heavy metals in contaminated soils and water; mechanisms of alkalinity control in western high altitude lakes; and fundamentals of the flotation process. Smith published over 140 articles in various scientific journals.. He married Catherine Smith, also a longtime Nevada professor, in 1955. They were divorced in 1994. They had three children: Walter, of New York, Anne, of Redwood City, Calif., and Courtney, of Independence, Calif. Ross married Vicki Toy Smith in 2002. He will be missed by his wife; his three children and their spouses; by his five grandchildren (Connor, Hugh, Lily, Kara, and Maxwell); by his step-children, Angela and her husband (Reno) and Justin (Los Angeles); and his sister Mollye and her husband (Roseburg, Oregon) along with his cousins, uncle, nieces and nephews. Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

engineering alumni news

• Ed Baroch’55 (metallurgical engineering) was awarded the Service Above Self Award through his involvement in Rotary. This is one of only 150 designated recognitions among the one million-plus Rotary International members each year. Ed’s selection was based upon not only his work in Rotary, but also his professional and civic functions over the years. • Roswell Rogers ’60 (civil engineering) retired in 2004 and enjoys traveling with his wife, Adair. The couple has traveled extensively throughout United States and Canada and recently returned from an 8,000 mile trip. • Donald Barkhurst ’62 (electrical engineering) is enjoying his retirement with his wife, Hope, and five children, Stefanie and K. Carrie, Kemper and twins, Kaleb and Kourtney. Don has worked for numerous companies including Lawrence Radiation Laboratories, Maxwell Laboratories and his own company, Diversus, Inc. • Dale Placey ’67 (metallurgical engineering) and his wife, Lala, enjoy time at their second home in Stuart, Fla. particularly during sailfish season. The couple has been fishing for sails for 37 years.

Kansas State University. He is an associate member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and an avid supporter of the University’s Concrete Canoe Team. • Rachel (Balvin) Graffam ’07 MBA and Dan Graffam ’08 (civil engineering) were married Oct. 20, 2009 in St. Thomas, Virgin islands. Rachel is employed at Accelerated Care Plus and Dan works for Nichols Consulting Engineers. They are currently remodeling a home in the Callahan Ranch area of Reno and plan to stay and play in their home town. • Joshua Mooneyham ’08 (civil engineering) and his new wife, a former ski team athlete, Amanda (Goyne) Mooneyham ’09 (biology), have found a new home in Sacramento. Joshua is working with a state-of-the art material recovery facility and sanitary landfill as a civil engineer under the guidance and support of another Nevada grad, Wayne Trewhitt ’62 (civil engineering). His duties include the oversight of the landfill, projecting future fill sequences, aiding in the monitoring of the recovery facility and researching new ideas in waste management practices. Amanda is working toward her medical degree at University of California, Davis in their rural prime program.

• Nancy (McMullin) Bobb ’83 (civil engineering) has retired from the Federal Highway Administration after 25 years. She is enjoying her retirement and has no plans to work again!

Alumni Relations Awards for Outstanding Professional Achievement

• Mark Smith ’86 M.S. (civil engineering), the founder and chief executive officer of California’s Vector Engineering for 23 years, has launched the nonprofit Smith International Foundation. The foundation teaches individuals, rural communities and nongovernmental organizations to work with resource companies and manage the impacts from resource extraction.

Marc Markwell ’95 (civil engineering) is a thirdgeneration Nevadan and the fourth member of his family to graduate from the University of Nevada. Following graduation, Marc earned a juris doctor degree at Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. He is a licensed attorney in California and Nevada. Marc went on to join Granite Construction, initially as a project manager and later as the business manager for Nevada operations. In 2004, Marc joined Dermody Properties as the development manager and then became partner. In his five years at Dermody, Marc oversaw the development and construction of more than 3 million square-feet of industrial and other commercial property. Marc is currently employed by Sierra Nevada Corporation where he manages a national portfolio of office space, warehouses and hangars.

• Tasha (Palmer) Lopez ’99 (chemical engineering) has recently relocated from southern California to Silicon Valley and accepted a new role within IBM as the Cognos new sales specialist for the western United States. Friends can reach her at She looks forward to reconnecting with friends in Reno. • Kurt Dietrich ’00 (civil egineering),’08 (professional construction management) recently passed the Professional Traffic Operations Engineer Exam with flying colors. Employed by the City of Reno since 1998, Kurt spends his free time working on steam locomotives and serving on the executive board for the Friends of the Nevada State Railroad Museum. • Douglas Buck ’01 (civil engineering) has been awarded Civil Engineer of the Year for 2009 by the Truckee Meadows Branch of the American Society of Civil engineers. Doug joined Bowling Mamola Group in 2009 and has primarily been deputy construction manager for the Curry Street and Roop Street reconstruction projects, two major roadway overhauls in Carson City. • Brian Fitzgerald ’06 (civil engineering) has passed the California Professional Engineer exam. Brian is responsible for assisting with planning, design, bidding and construction services for PBS&J clients including the Reno-Tahoe international Airport, Truckee Airport and Carson City Airport. Brian also received a bachelor’s in architecture from


Tom D. Whitaker ’60 (electrical engineering) graduated from Nevada with the ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate citation while playing four years of football and two years of baseball. During his junior year, Tom was the national pass receiving champion in college football. After graduation, Tom signed with the Dallas Cowboys. In 1962, he joined General Electric Company as an engineering management trainee. During his 20-year career at GE, his assignments included sales management, marketing, strategic planning, engineering, manufacturing, customer service and finance. In 1971 he received his MBA from the University of California, Berkeley. For more than 20 years, Tom has served as chairman and CEO of Motion Analysis Corporation, the world’s leading provider of video-based computer imaging motion capture equipment used for animation and full feature movies, video games and broadcast. In 2005, Motion Analysis was awarded four technical achievement Oscars by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

alumni profile Paul Reimer Story by Sara Lafrance

On June 16, 2010, a group of alumni arrived in Reno to celebrate their 60th year reunion. Among those attending was Paul Reimer, graduate of the Civil Engineering, class of 1950. “We were a most serious group,” describes Paul. “Of the 19 engineering students in the class, all but two were returning veterans from World War II. We were older, some of us were married, and our reason for being on campus was to get an education. We were engaged and intense, a band of buddies with great camaraderie and mutual support. After graduation, we stayed in contact with one another, some times professionally, but most often through Dean Blodgett and Professor Bonnell who saw that we got together every five years. At our 60th Reunion, five of us, Web Brown, Verne Meiser, Rick Vandenberg, Ron Wolford and I were together once again”. Paul graduated with Honors in Civil Engineering and was Associated Student Body President at the University of Nevada, Reno in 1949/50. He still treasurers the May 26, 1950 issue of the university’s Sagebrush newspaper that was dedicated to him and “all the fire and determination of one set out Paul Reimer to straighten the world”. His first position was as a Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey aboard the USC&GS Ship Pioneer. On wartime assignment from the Navy, the Pioneer conducted hydrographic surveys in the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean to chart bottom-scape for submarines operating under the icepack. This was during the Korean War and jobs were scarce for engineering graduates. Paul thought the service would be his long-term career. But the adventure began to pale when he met and married Kay Brennan, a California native and also a University of Nevada, Reno graduate. Being away seven to eight months a year did not fare well for newlyweds. Until she passed away in 2005 after 53 years of marriage, Kay Reimer was Paul’s constant companion, confidante, and constructive booster. Paul held engineering positions in Nevada with Ready Mix Concrete Company and California with Johns Manville Corp. until 1959 when he was approached by the consulting engineering firm of George S. Nolte to expand their professional practice into public works engineering. He continued in that role, pioneered the expansion of Nolte operations in Western Nevada, San Diego, Sacramento, and in King and Snohomish County, Washington, until becoming President in 1973. In 1976, Paul founded Reimer Associates, Consulting Civil Engineers, and led that firm beyond typical engineering design in Northern California and Nevada to national recognition for its work in Military Base Reuse. During this time, Paul served on the Defense Environmental Response Task Force (DERTF), a nine-member board charged by and reporting to Congress while overseeing environmental cleanup by DOD at all closing military bases nation-wide. He was a frequent speaker at industry conferences, amassed numerous publication credits, and in 2000 was cited for his “long lasting contribution to the national discourse on base closure” by the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environmental Security. Paul retired in 2003 but has continued doing consulting, most notably for the major land owner adjacent to the new University of California, Merced and for redevelopment activity on the former Fort Ord in Monterey County. His company is still operational, with daughter, Kristie, serving as its Vice President. In 2001, Paul became active on the College of Engineering Advisory Board and has been instrumental in its development. “Engineering education is more complex today than it was when I attended the University”, states Paul, “and specialization is now the norm. Some of the big picture has been lost with this concentration and few graduates have jobs that enable them to work on something from beginning to end. Seeing the macro picture, in addition to a particular disciplined approach, is essential and I have been fortunate to contribute to the evolution of Urban Systems Engineering with a holistic concept of the Engineer’s role. Through our work in Washington, Colorado and at several military bases, we adopted the byline of InfraStrategy as an analytical response to the full range of engineering input related to urbanization. Paul feels his education at the University of Nevada, Reno has served him extremely well throughout his engineering career due to the quality of that education as well as the personal involvement of Dean Blodgett and the Civil Engineering faculty and staff. “I came away from the experience,” he states, “with a sense of professionalism , a respect for the integrity that is a necessary part of engineering, and an understanding of the importance of one’s own efforts. It has served as a lesson for the rest of my life.” In 2006, Paul Reimer received the Scrugham Medal as an outstanding alumnus of the College of Engineering. Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011


eering of Engin College Turning ideas into reality

summer camps

A busy summer camp season for college

Story by John Trent, Senior Editor, Integrated Marketing

The College of Engineering held several summer camps during 2010, including three Engineering Camps, one Robotics & Digital Games Camp and one Civil Engineering Camp. All lessons in the camps were designed to represent all of the College of Engineeringâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s majors. During the five-week period of the camps, the college played host to 109 campers. Included in this number were 36 girls who attended the camps â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the highest female participation ever. In addition to the high participation, the college issued more than $16,000 in financial aid and scholarships to campers in need. The camps were held Monday through Friday, and were limited to 24 students per camp. The age range was from 12 to 16 years old. As part of the experience, campers were provided healthy snacks, lunch (through a DFS program grant), keepsake water bottles, T-shirts, magazines and prizes. During the camps, campers participated in laboratory experiments and other hands-on activities, as well as tours of the University of Nevada, Reno campus, and weekly field trips. Ten College of Engineering instructors, graduate and undergraduate students delivered and facilitated much of the knowledge, along with a series of guest speakers.

Engineering outreach program receives grant Story by Claudene Wharton, University Media Relations

The Nevada Public Education Foundation has awarded $10,000 to the University of Nevada, Reno for the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement Program in the College of Engineering. The grant is a Nevada A.C.C.E.S.S. grant (Academics + Careers + College and/or Training Equal Student Success). The money will be used this year to help support the program that is designed to build strong academic skills and inform students about college and career opportunities. This is the seventh year of the innovative program, which is based on the highly successful national model. The program aims to increase the number of underrepresented students graduating from high school, and works to ensure that these students take all of the necessary advanced coursework needed to be fully qualified for mathematics and science coursework at the college level. Middle- and high-school students will participate in hands-on activities related to math, engineering and science. University of Nevada, Reno students will serve as tutors and mentors to the students at each participating middle and high school. Participants will take a field trip to the University campus to observe a math- or science-related project, such as the robotics lab, and to get acquainted with the campus.


Nevada Engineering â&#x20AC;˘ Winter 2011

2010 scrugham medal recipient

Ken Gardner Ken Gardner rose from a new mechanical engineering graduate in 1984 to his own company’s president in 1999. After graduation Ken was hired by Carrier Air Conditioning where company leadership sent him for six months of technical training in Syracuse, NY before heading into sales positions at their offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. After his time with Carrier, Ken served several companies including the family business, Gardner Engineering, in positions with ever increasing responsibilities. In 1996, Ken formed Engineered Equipment & Systems Co. (EES) in Las Vegas and served as its President for 12 years. EES provided complex HVAC systems for the major hotel resorts built in Las Vegas during the city’s phenomenal period of construction during the 2000’s, and in 2006 was awarded the HVAC systems contract for the $12 billion MGM/City Center project, EES’s largest ever. In 2008, Ken sold EES to Johnson Controls, Inc., a Fortune 100 NYSE company. Today, Ken is the President of 8108, Inc., an engineering and systems consulting firm specializing in HVAC and low voltage systems technology, and renewable & sustainable energy systems. Ken is a Registered Professional Engineer in Nevada and California, and a LEED Accredited Professional. In 2009 Ken was appointed by the Governor to the Nevada State Board of Professional Engineers & Land Surveyors. He is a past member of the UNR Foundation Board of Trustees, is a foundation board member and past president of the Las Vegas Founders Club, and an executive board member of the UNLV Rebel Golf Foundation, among others. Ken and his wife Gina (Capurro) are both from longtime Nevada families, have been married for 17 years and are raising three 5th generation Nevadans, Lucas (15), Addie (15), and Mallory (12).

Nevada Engineering • Winter 2011

The James Graves Scrugham Medal was designed to commemorate one of the key figures in the history of the College of Engineering and the State of Nevada. Alumni who have become nationally recognized because of their professional achievements are being honored with this award. James Graves Scrugham was a distinguished Nevadan who was the first Dean of the College of Engineering, a State Engineer, Governor Nevada, a U.S. Representative in Congress and a U.S. Senator. 67

College of Engineering University of Nevada, Reno / Mail Stop 0256 Reno, NV 89557-0256

Non Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Nevada, Reno Permit No. 26

Change Service Requested

College of Engineering Corporate Partners Program The College of Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno is proud to announce their Corporate Partners program, which brings together a select group of companies/firms to collaborate with engineering and computer science educators, researchers and students. The mission of the Corporate Partners program is to generate interactions between the College of Engineering and the Corporate Partners that bridge the gap between theory and practice and bring a competitive edge to the College, the Partners, the State, the Region and the Nation. For information on the Corporate Partners program, contact Melanie Perish at (775) 784-6433 or Maryanne Cameron at (775) 682-9503 or via email at or



Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you