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I hope to inspire young girls to pursue their goals and dreams regardless of gender, nationality or background.

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B.S. Petroleum Engineering ’18 M.S. Student Mechanical Engineering

$61,300 Average starting salary for our graduates

54% Percentage of UW students who graduate with little-to-no debt








3 / Opening the Door to UW’s Most Advanced and Collaborative Facility Get an in-depth look at the brand-new Engineering Education and Research Building.

02 / Message from the Dean

16 / Enhancing Wyoming’s Critical Industries One Simulation at A Time Upgraded Drilling and Completions Simulator is unrivaled around the world.

15 / Alumni in Action

24 / Fostering Collaboration in UW’s Largest Makerspace Students, faculty and community members are welcomed to new Student Innovation Center. 26 / Better Together: Engineering Breaks Down Barriers With Design Thinking Interdisciplinary collaboration center brings engineering to a new level of learning.

08 / News & Notes 10 / Students in Action 12 / Faculty in Action 20 / News & Notes 30 / CEAS Highlight 32 / Alumni In Memoriam

On the Cover Guests at the grand opening of the Engineering Education and Research Building were invited to explore state-of-the-art laboratory and learning spaces throughout the facility.

Fall 2019 • 1

Message from the Dean

University of Wyoming College of Engineering and Applied Science Interim Dean Cameron Wright Associate Dean, Academic Programs Steve Barrett Associate Dean, College Advancement Paul Dellenback Director, Business Operations Mēgan Barber Administrative Associate Jeanne Moede Departments: Atmospheric Science Bart Geerts, Head 307-766-2261 | uwyo.edu/atsc Chemical Engineering Vladimir Alvarado, Head 307-766-2500 | uwyo.edu/chemical Civil and Architectural Engineering Tony Denzer, Head 307-766-2390 | uwyo.edu/civil Computer Science Ruben Gamboa, Head 307-766-5190 | uwyo.edu/cosc Electrical and Computer Engineering John McInroy, Head 307-766-2240 | uwyo.edu/electrical Mechanical Engineering Carl Frick, Head 307-766-2122 | uwyo.edu/mechanical Petroleum Engineering Brian Toelle, Interim Head 307-766-6780 | uwyo.edu/petroleum Editors Mindy Peep, Micaela Myers, Chad Baldwin, Baillie Miller and Andrew Chapman Graphic Design Michelle Eberle and Emily Edgar Photography All photos by Ted Brummond and Kyle Spradley unless otherwise noted *Thank you to all contributing writers for creating a dynamic and diverse collection of content. Foresight is created twice per year as a collaboration between the CEAS and UW Institutional Marketing. For additional copies, contact us at 307-766-3256. Persons seeking admission to the University of Wyoming shall be considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, or political belief. The University is committed to equal opportunity for all persons in all facets of the University’s operations. All qualified applicants for employment and educational programs, benefits, and services will be considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or protected veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law and University policy.

2 • Foresight

COLLABORATION FOR THE FUTURE Dear Colleagues and Friends, On Sept. 13, the University of Wyoming celebrated the grand opening of the new Engineering Education and Research Building (EERB). It was no doubt one of the largest visual milestones of our promise to Wyoming in fulfilling the Tier 1 Engineering Initiative. My sincere gratitude goes out to the many individuals, teams and partners who were involved in successfully completing this building on time and within original budget parameters. The EERB, like many of our facilities, is an absolute wonder and will bring us into the future. But, our work is not done—it has just begun. As you read this edition of Foresight, we are excited to not only share an in-depth look at the EERB, but also the interdisciplinary collaboration and opportunities it is creating for the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Our students, faculty and community now have access to one of the most robust makerspace facilities in the nation to support research and classwork. Our upgraded drilling simulator is unrivaled and will prepare the workforce of a vital industry in ways never thought possible. Each space is accessible and designed for collaboration, and it is this sentiment that will drive us forward. I have had the pleasure to meet with many of our champions, and I look forward to sharing conversations with those I haven’t met. My dedication to maintain and create new partnerships begins with two very important principles that have been my guiding beacons long before I joined the academic world: successfully perform the mission and take good care of the people. It is not possible to fulfill one without the other. In the coming months as interim dean, I open my door to your ideas and feedback on how we can go further. Our faculty and staff are keys to attracting students from around the world. With this in mind, we can only achieve our goals by creating a better atmosphere for facilitating improvement. It is time to shine the light on creating communication in all directions, because there is nothing we can’t do when we work together. On behalf of all students, staff and faculty, I welcome you to visit any of our facilities and offer solutions to some of our most important challenges. I am listening, and so is our campus community. Thank you for this opportunity, and I look forward to serving you in the future. Sincerely,

Cameron H.G. Wright Interim Dean College of Engineering and Applied Science

OpeNiNg t He door

to UW’s Most Advanced and Collaborative Facility

The 110,000-square-foot Engineering Education and Research Building is the University of Wyoming’s newest venue and will foster engineering innovation and collaboration among students and faculty.

Fall 2019 • 3

After the long-anticipated construction of University of Wyoming’s most ambitious building project to date, the new Engineering Education and Research Building, commonly known to the campus community as the “EERB,” was handed over to the College of Engineering and Applied Science in early 2019. Though occupancy was issued, many faculty and student workers had large tasks ahead as they spent the summer preparing lab and collaboration spaces for the fall semester. All throughout the warm Laramie summer months, the EERB bustled with energy and, steadily, UW’s newest venue was brought to life by the hard work of many. Entering the modern facility, you’re immediately met with a sense of openness and collaboration. Gazing throughout the atrium, which spans all four floors in the center of the building, you may notice the unique steel suspension system that at first glance feels like a clever aesthetic, until you realize it is actually an engineering marvel supporting major components of the load-bearing structure. Each floor is equipped with open and private collaboration spaces, all adorned in a different color. As you make your way to the north and south ends of the building, each level is equipped with reconfigurable lab spaces that are intentionally situated between principal investigator (PI) and faculty offices where they can interact with their graduate students just steps away. With thousands of square feet of glass, it’s easy to feel sunlight in almost any direction, only adding to the fluidity of this marvelous facility. The EERB is one of the most advanced engineering learning facilities in the nation and was built to make interdisciplinary collaboration a seamless experience. The building, a key part of the Tier 1 Engineering 4 • Foresight

EERB Stats Square footage: 110,000 Number of floors: Four (five with mechanical penthouse) Number of educational spaces: 150 Daily student occupation: 200–300 Total cost: $105 million ($85 million in state appropriations, $15 million in matching funds and $6.5 million in private donations with ongoing fundraising opportunities.)

Initiative, was made possible by generous private donations and a significant investment by the Wyoming Legislature. The initiative is designed to promote engineering education, workforce training and research relevant to the economic interest of Wyoming. Acting UW President Neil Theobald commends the state and its constituents on a wise investment. “This structure, which provides 110,000 new square feet for engineering research and student innovation, will more than repay the state over its lifetime by facilitating just the sort of interdisciplinary collaboration and interaction that provide active learning for our students and enhanced engagement with our industry and partners,” Theobald says. “I would like to thank the Wyoming Legislature for its generous support of the Engineering Education and Research Building.” Another key accomplishment of the EERB is helping fulfill UW’s mission of providing accessible and affordable higher education. In 2018, the CEAS programs boasted an average 88 percent job placement rate, a dramatic increase from 49 percent just five years prior to

the Engineering Initiative. Alongside the Energy Innovation Center, High Bay Research Facility and Michael B. Enzi STEM Facility, UW’s engineering programs and facilities rival larger universities that have dominated the engineering industry for years. Some spaces are brand new in the EERB, such as the Center for Design Thinking, where students and faculty bring art and computer science together to form an entrepreneurial approach—or even form product solutions. Other spaces such as the Student Innovation Center makerspace and the highly anticipated Drilling and Completions Simulator are massive upgrades from other UW facilities

The expansive main atrium extends throughout all four floors in the new Engineering Education and Research Building. Open-concept aesthetics were specifically designed throughout the building to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration. PHOTO COURTESY GE JOHNSON

that had visions for expansion prior to the EERB’s conception. Tyler Kerr, coordinator of the Student Innovation Center, spent all summer preparing the new makerspace and explains how industry professionals were struck by the state-of-the-art technology. “Our equipment was being set up by technicians all summer who have installed makerspaces all over the country,” Kerr says. “So many of them were in awe of our facility and told us this [makerspace] was one of the most advanced they’ve seen.” For good reason. The makerspace and many other labs support thousands of students and faculty in creating prototypes and tangible proof to

support research and other academic pursuits. This type of collaboration is exactly what engineers and architects had in mind when conceptualizing the building. After all, the engineering domain requires inventiveness and creativity to form solutions to everyday problems. Without the collaboration that is already taking place across multiple disciplines in the EERB, the products and resources people use each day would not be possible.

Scan this with a QR code reader to take a virtual tour of the EERB.

The Major Players Lead Design Firm: ZGF Architects (Seattle) Other Design Partners: Malone Belton Abel (MBA) and GSG Architecture Construction Manager at Risk/General Contractor: GE Johnson (Colorado Springs) Note: ZGF Associate Partner and lead designer/project manager Corinne Kerr is a UW architectural engineering graduate.

Fall 2019 • 5

The Multidisciplinary Fluids Laboratory is a shared teaching facility among the Departments of Civil, Mechanical, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering.

Lab List Upgraded drilling and completions simulator. Robotics Artificial Intelligence Learning Laboratory. Upgraded driving, trucking and traffic management simulators. Produced water management laboratory. Advanced hydrocarbons laboratory with focus on enhanced oil recovery research.

6 • Foresight

Advanced combustion laboratory. Augmented/virtual reality laboratory. Materials laboratory with emphasis on composite materials. Bioengineering laboratory with a focus on materials and collaborations with College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Center for Design Thinking: a space for the teaching of design in collaboration with the Department of Visual Arts and funded by the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Multidisciplinary Fluids Laboratory, a shared teaching facility among the Departments of Civil, Mechanical, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. Expanded Student Innovation Center with advanced 3D printing and modeling technology.

Thank You to Our Generous Donors The College of Engineering and Applied Science is pleased to report that the $105 million EERB was completed within original budget parameters. The building and many of its lab and classroom spaces were made possible by $85 million in state appropriations, $15 million in matching funds and $6.5 million in private donations with ongoing fundraising opportunities. We extend heartfelt gratitude to the State of Wyoming and the following donors who made this incredible facility a possibility:

UW and state officials cut the ribbon Sept. 13, 2019, to commemorate the grand opening of the Engineering Education and Research Building.

Earl R. Tatman — Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory

Carolyn and Maynard Morris — Wood Shop

Judy and Richard Agee — Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

Paul A. Rechard and Family — Meeting Room

Drilling Systems, powered by the 3T Energy Group — Drilling and Completion Simulation Laboratory

Don and Betty Walters — Meeting Room


Bruce and Carla Pivic — Meeting Room Richard and Marilyn Lynch — Student Space •••

Chad and Liz (Pack) Deaton — Engineering Board Room

WPX Energy — DrillSim 5000

David and Cory Le Norman — Dean’s Suite

Amy and Tom Allen — Offices and Student Space


Tom and Shelley Botts — Collaboration Space

Larry and Kathi Carrell — Simulation Lab Equipment

Joseph and Stephanie Leimkuhler — Collaboration Space


J.R. Simplot Company — Collaboration Space

John P. Ellbogen Foundation in recognition of the vision of Spencer Garland — Multidisciplinary Fluids Lab Equipment

David and Pilar Blevins — Collaboration Space



Roy and Caryl Cline — Classroom

Dr. Jerry M. and Connie M. Calkins — Donor

EMIT Technologies — Student Mixing Chamber

Doyl Fritz — Donor


Cloud Peak Energy — Donor

Hassler Family — Hall of Fame Lobby and Reception Area

Joe and Patty Grabowski — Donor

••• Tom and Darlis Fuller — Lewis Street Lobby and Reception Area ••• Black Hills Energy — Student Project Space Kenneth L. Hoy, Ph.D. — Student Project Space Dick Williams named in honor of J. Richard and Hjalma Person Williams — Video Conference Room

Dominion Energy — Collaboration Space

Heather and Cory Hasiak — Donor Patricia Kennedy — Donor J. Kenneth Kennedy — Donor MKK Engineering — Donor David H. McReynolds — Donor Robert Bunning Family — Donor Brian and Lynne Seitz — Donor

Fall 2019 • 7

News & Notes

LI-OAKEY RECEIVES GRANT TO STUDY LIQUID SEPARATION MECHANISMS USING SMART MATERIALS University of Wyoming chemical engineering Associate Professor Katie Li-Oakey has received a nearly $700,000, three-year grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) Basic Energy Sciences to investigate the use of smart membrane materials to more efficiently remove pollutants or impurities or to recover valuable materials—such as rare earth elements— from water or other industrial liquids. These materials could prove effective at better separating metal ions from liquids such as craft beer; removing dyes from discharged water used in the textile industry; and recovering tiny oil droplets that remain in produced water generated by oil and gas exploration. “By studying the complex liquid chemistry, we want to create a zerodischarge process that can recover highpurity valuable elements in water while producing reusable water,” Li-Oakey says.

Li-Oakey will serve as the grant’s principal investigator (PI) and is joined by John Hoberg, an associate professor of chemistry, and Bruce Parkinson, a professor of chemistry, who will both serve as the grant’s co-PIs. The team’s objectives are to fundamentally push the boundary of highest achievable selectivity and flux; and to develop clear guidance for nextgeneration separation barrier product design that can take advantage of the scientific findings. The desired outcome is to help make more efficient, costeffective and long-lasting separation products for water and other industrial solvent treatment. Li-Oakey says early-stage research and student involvement are key factors in securing grant funding. She commends UW School of Energy Resources Executive Director Mark

UW’s Partnership with Code.org to Improve K-12 Computer Science Instruction

College of Education and College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS). Through the collaboration, UW provides outreach support to Wyoming teachers and others to help prepare them to embed computer science into their classrooms. This effort assists in the success of Senate Enrolled Act 0048 that mandates all Wyoming school districts must offer computer science no later than the start of the 2022-23 school year. UW College of Education Associate Professor Andrea Burrows is the regional partner director. Mike Borowczak, a computer science assistant professor in the CEAS and

The University of Wyoming has recently created a partnership with Code.org to join a nationwide network of regional partners that support efforts to expand access to computer science in K-12 schools. UW will be the only Code.org regional partner in Wyoming and the only universitybased member in the Rocky Mountain region. The effort is a cross-disciplinary collaboration between UW’s

Associate Professor Katie Li-Oakey (center, front row) has received a three-year research grant to investigate smart membrane separation from water and other liquids. Co-PIs and UW faculty members Bruce Parkinson and John Hoberg (front row) are joined by several undergraduate (UG) and graduate (G) chemistry students and one postdoctoral (PD) chemical engineering fellow. Pictured from left, back row, are: Nunzio Carducci (UG), Valerie Kuehl (G), Veronica Spaulding (G) and Joshua Anderson (UG.) From left, middle row are Rylie Pilon (UG) and Phuoc Duong (PD).

Northam and Director of Emerging Technology Richard Horner, along and Diana Hulme, associate vice president of research with the UW Office of Research and Economic Development, for their confidence and support in LiOakey’s early research.

CEDAR (Cybersecurity Education and Research) director, is the co-regional partner director. UW curriculum and instruction master’s degree student Kyle Mogensen, of Gurnee, Ill., and computer science Ph.D. student Shaya Wolf, from Buffalo, Wyo., are the graduate students providing support to the partnership. Funding to support the graduate assistants was provided by Microsoft’s TechSpark Wyoming, the College of Education Dean’s Office, and the College of Engineering and Applied Science Dean’s Office. TechSpark Wyoming is an initiative to spark new economic opportunities in rural communities.

Rock River Elementary School teacher Lindsey Findley works with student Alex Thelen, of Laramie, during the TACoS (The Artful Craft of Science) summer camp in June. This program and others are designed to help educators incorporate computer science into their curricula.

$1 Million Grant Promotes Computer Science Education in Wyoming The National Science Foundation recently awarded nearly $1 million to support the inclusion of computer science education in Wyoming schools and libraries. The grant, sponsored by the University of Wyoming, will be branded as Wyoming’s Schools and Libraries Integrating Computer Science Education (WySLICE) and will prepare 150 K-8 teachers and state librarians from all disciplines to integrate computer science into their curricula. The Wyoming Legislature recently mandated that computer science instruction be provided in K-12 schools by 2022. UW College of Engineering and Applied Science Assistant Professor Mike Borowczak led the grant application and will oversee research throughout the project. “Computer science is rapidly becoming a need-to-know competency for all,” Borowczak says. “WySLICE will study how to enable our students and communities to be exposed

to fundamental computer science concepts in an integrated fashion that goes beyond just programming.” Borowczak leads the WySLICE core principal investigator team and is joined by three other UW faculty members from the College of Education; College of Engineering and Applied Science; and College of Arts and Sciences. The co-principal investigators are Andrea Burrows, an associate professor of science education; Lars Kotthoff, an assistant professor of computer science; and Adam Myers, an associate professor of physics and astronomy. The project also assembles a network improvement community composed of partners from UW, community colleges, Wyoming school districts, the Wyoming State Library System, the Wyoming Department of Education and local software development firms. More information on the program and community partners can be found at uwyo.edu/WySLICE.

Fall 2019 • 9

Students in Action

Busboom Named AIChE President at UW

Jacy Busboom of Douglas, Wyo., will head up the UW chapter of the AIChE for the 2019-20 academic year. COURTESY PHOTO

Jacy Busboom, a chemical engineering undergraduate student, was recently appointed as student president for the University of Wyoming’s chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Busboom is originally from Douglas, Wyo., and has progressed as a natural leader among her peers. She is an active member and outreach co-chair for the Society of Women Engineers. As an uncommon opportunity for undergraduate students, Busboom was invited in 2018 to work on research involving bioproduction of magnetic nanoparticles through Wyoming’s IDeA Networks for Biomedical Research Excellence. In summer 2019, she participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates grant funded by the National Science Foundation, studying crosstalk between breast cancer cells and adipose stem cells. As the new AIChE president, Busboom plans to focus on recruiting industry guest speakers for the chapter, increasing early student involvement, becoming better integrated with other recognized student organizations and educating other members on career opportunities through community outreach.

Computer Science Ph.D. Student Receives Award from Idaho National Laboratory Rajiv Khadka, a Ph.D. student in the University of Wyoming’s Department of Computer Science, received first runner-up recognition for his informational and digital graphical poster during an internship with Idaho National Laboratory (INL). Khadka finished his fifth year interning with INL in August and submitted an augmentedreality mobile application used for data visualization during INL’s annual intern poster competition. In May, Khadka contributed a chapter in UW Associate Professor Amy Banic and co-author Elliot Hunt’s book, “Bi-Manual Interaction Rajiv Khadka receives his award from for Manipulation, Volume INL’s deputy laboratory director, Selection, and Travel.” Khadka Marianne Walk, during the INL Intern Poster Session and Awards works with Banic at the 3D Ceremony in August. Interaction and Agents (3DIA) COURTESY PHOTO Research Laboratory inside the Engineering Education and Research Building to conduct research in the fields of human-computer interaction, collaborative virtual environments, proxemics, immersive data visualization, 3-D user interface and tangible user interfaces.

10 • Foresight

Vitt to Head Student Chapter of Society of Women Engineers Madison Vitt, a chemical and biomedical engineering undergraduate student, was voted as president of the University of Wyoming Society of Women Engineers (SWE) student chapter for the 2019-20 academic year. She is heavily involved in various organizations and movements to help increase female representation in the engineering profession, including the recent WOMENgineering Conference hosted by SWE in October. Vitt’s goal during her presidency will be to form connections with other women in the industry and help elevate them with opportunities among their peers. “Engineering has been a male-dominated field for a long time, so it’s exciting to interact with the women who are challenging that stereotype,” she says. “Making connections with other people in the same situation as you is very empowering, and that’s what SWE aims to do on a national and chapter level.” Vitt is a senior with the College of Engineering and Applied Science and will graduate in May 2020.

STUDENT FINDS SUCCESS IN HIS ROOTS Looking back, Michael Gardner, a senior majoring in petroleum engineering, knew it was time for a change after working in the oil field since 2002. The Vernal, Utah native graduated high school and began working as a roustabout for Weatherford International. Gardner worked hard, visited seven states and progressed in his role. He then hit a point and realized he wanted more out of his career, but knew he needed additional education to achieve his goals. His roots had always been in oil and natural gas exploration, so he was eager to remain in the industry. “I’ve been around oil and gas since I was a kid because most of my family works in the industry,” Gardner says. “Being around this all my life has created a better understanding for the need of this field.” After diligent research and unwavering support from his parents, Gardner discovered the petroleum engineering program at the University of Wyoming’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. The program was highly ranked and centrally located to future career opportunities throughout the Mountain West region. He applied, was accepted and is thriving in his senior year, with strong prospects when he graduates in May 2020. Gardner is a natural leader among his peers today and is eager to share his unique perspective from his field days with other students.

“My experience in the field has helped greatly in the visualization of concepts in our petroleum classes,” he says. “For example, it’s easier to see how the equations we work on are implemented in a simulation. From time to time, other students ask me about my experience, and I feel sharing with them offers other insights in the industry.” Gardner also played a major role this past summer in the assembly of the enhanced Drilling and Completions Simulator laboratory, located in the brand-new Engineering Education and Research Building. Drilling Systems, powered by the 3T Energy Group, hired Gardner as an intern to work alongside Tawfik Elshehabi, UW petroleum engineering lab director and associate lecturer. He gained valuable skills in other engineering disciplines, including his work on the room’s electrical and visual display systems. Combined with his education and background in the industry, Gardner will graduate with an in-depth

knowledge of his craft and plans to seek work with an offshore drilling company. He advises students seeking better outcomes for themselves to work hard and maintain focus on their goals. “Earning a degree can be very tough at times and can test you in a way you haven’t been tested before,” Gardner says. “But, if you just keep your eyes on your goal and put in the hard work, doors will open, and you will make it to the end.”

Michael Gardner will graduate in May 2020 with a petroleum engineering degree. After working in the oil field since 2002, he made the decision to attend UW and has worked hard to earn internship and other program opportunities.

Fall 2019 • 11

Faculty in Action

Geerts Elected to Fellowship with American Meteorological Society

The original exoskeleton device pictured here was developed by Livity Technologies, from which Domen Novak’s team will work to obtain fundamental knowledge about the effects a trunk exoskeleton has on human movement. COURTESY PHOTO

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR PAVING THE WAY FOR BACK PAIN RELIEF Assistant Professor Domen Novak in the University of Wyoming’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering recently received a grant of more than $520,000 from the National Science Foundation for research on trunk exoskeletons that can prevent and relieve back pain. As principal investigator, Novak will introduce intelligent and adaptive components to an exoskeleton prototype originally created by Colorado startup company Livity Technologies. The research objective is to promote useful and comfortable interactions between the device and its wearer. Novak is joined by Boyi Dai, an associate professor in UW’s Division of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, as co-principal investigator. The project will obtain fundamental knowledge about the effects a trunk exoskeleton has on human movement and physiology in a variety of dynamic activities. Incorporating smart technology into the device is a key component in the advancement of biomedical research, according to Novak. Using motors and machine-learning algorithms, the exoskeleton could adapt itself to specific wearers and activities, providing personalized support. Additionally, Novak believes this project will promote advances in nonsurgical and nonpharmaceutical interventions that may be more effective than products available today. “Lower back pain is a health issue we can all relate to,” Novak says. “We hope this research project will lead to low-cost, smart solutions that can relieve and prevent back pain for millions of people all over the world.”

12 • Foresight

Department of Atmospheric Science Professor and Head Bart Geerts recently was named a fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The AMS counts more than 13,000 members, including researchers in atmospheric, oceanic and hydrologic sciences, but no more than 0.2 percent of the membership receives this distinction, a recognition of outstanding contributions in the field of atmospheric and related sciences. “This recognition is quite an honor, and it reflects on nearly two decades of productive research at the University of Wyoming,” Geerts says. “Reflecting back on that, we are fortunate to have access to the UW King Air research aircraft, with novel and ever-evolving instruments, allowing truly transformational atmospheric observations, and also to have ready access to high-performance computing through the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputer Center (NWSC).” Geerts and his graduate students conduct research into cloud-scale to mesoscale atmospheric processes, using aircraft measurement and a variety of radars. The main tools have been the Wyoming Cloud Radar (WCR) aboard the UW King Air aircraft and the NWSC computers. The 2019 AMS fellows, including Geerts, will be admitted formally at the 100th AMS Annual Meeting in Boston in January. Bart Geerts will be formally admitted to a fellowship with the American Meteorological Society in January. COURTESY PHOTO

Associate Professor Leading Construction Management Program to Accreditation Francois Jacobs had always wanted to return to the Rocky Mountain region after he successfully founded and developed a construction management minor and major with California Baptist College. In 2016, he returned to the Front Range of Colorado and continued his higher education journey as program director for Northeastern Community College in Sterling, followed by serving as college dean of instruction at Front Range Community College in Westminster. As a member of the American Council for Construction (ACCE), he had followed the region’s progress in construction management programming for more than five years—often glancing at Wyoming sitting as an uncolored square on the organization’s accreditation map. The ACCE maintains accreditation and the process for accreditation for over 70 baccalaureate program across the United States. Despite Wyoming’s strong economy for infrastructure construction and improvements, the Equality State had yet to implement an accredited program in construction management. However, in November 2018, Jacobs received word that the University of Wyoming had launched a construction management degree and was seeking accreditation from the ACCE. In early 2019, the need for a program lead was created to ensure the road to accreditation was pressing forward. Jacobs applied for the position and, at little surprise to his colleagues, was hired as UW construction management’s newest associate professor under the umbrella of the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering.

Today, Jacobs is excited for the future of the program and commends the incoming students as major contributors to the accreditation process. “Our nearly 60 students in the program are making history,” Jacobs says. “The accreditation board is going to look for successful program data and participation, so we’ve started out very strong.” Jacobs also applauds his past and present female students as pace-setters inside and outside the classroom. “In my experience, many women are some of my highest-performing students,” he says. “It’s important for this group of students to continue to support one another and encourage their female peers to pursue this program.” High performance in the classroom isn’t Jacobs’ only observation of successful female participation in the construction industry. Often, in

federal or state construction contracts, many companies receive additional preference points during the bidding process for their female representation in both employee and leadership roles. Many of his industry contacts ask for names of female students for possible internships and career opportunities. “They know they work hard and have the intellect to get the job done,” Jacobs adds. The program continues to impress department officials with strong enrollment growth. Of the freshmen with declared engineering majors for the 2019-20 school year, construction management enrolled at least half of its applicants. This figure is an excellent beginning to fulfill the demand of a growing field, and Jacobs hopes to strengthen the program as it begins the journey to its target accreditation date in 2022.

Students from the UW College of Engineering and Applied Science’s construction management program pose for a photo at the start of the fall 2019 semester. Associate Professor Francois Jacobs is pictured second row, far right. Jacobs has a successful track record of forming and accrediting construction management programming, most recently at the California Baptist College.

Fall 2019 • 13

Faculty in Action

Molan’s Award-Winning Paper Could Lead to Safer Highway Travel

Amirarsalan Molan (center) received the 2018 Best Paper Award at the American Society of Civil Engineers International Conference on Transportation and Development in June. PHOTO COURTESY OF PALISADES DIGITAL MEDIA

Amirarsalan Molan, a postdoctoral research associate with the Wyoming Technology Transfer Center at the University of Wyoming, recently received the 2018 Journal of Transportation Engineering Best Paper Award. Molan was honored for his paper, “Travel Time Evaluation of Synchronized and Milwaukee B as New Interchange Designs,” on June 11 during the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) International Conference on Transportation and Development in Virginia. Most existing highway interchanges were built more than 60 years ago in the United States, based on outdated design policies. Molan and his Ph.D. adviser studied new concepts through simulation analysis and real-data validation, which pointed toward solutions to create safer highway travel on the country’s aging infrastructure. As the rising population increases motor traffic, researchers—including Molan—have been seeking alternatives to improve performance and safety on existing interchanges. “I am happy that our paper has been selected as the best paper of 2018 in the ASCE Journal of Transportation Engineering,” Molan says. “I hope it will result in a positive impact to provide safer and more efficient service for all types of transportation users.”

Dejam Collaborates with Corva on Real-Time Hydraulic Fracturing Data Analytics Assistant Professor Morteza Dejam, of the Department of Petroleum Engineering, is collaborating with oil and gas analytics company Corva on a research project to solve the most complex hydraulic fracturing operations. The research is intended to enable oil and gas companies to optimize completion design and reduce costs. Dejam and his research group plan to diagnose real-time fracturing data in order to derive hydraulic

14 • Foresight

fracturing efficiency and accurately characterize fracture networks and on-site evaluation of multistage fracturing design. The expected outcomes will provide the extensive support for engineers to quickly analyze and respond immediately during fracturing operations. Funding for the first phase of the project amounts to $192,984, including matching dollars from the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Corva is the leader in real-time drilling and completion analytics for oil and gas. With Corva’s platform, customers and vendors can develop powerful apps and dashboards that facilitate and improve quality during drilling and completion operations through real-time insights and analytics. Corva’s platform is deployed on more than 200 rigs, with customers that include 25 of the largest publicly traded oil and gas producers.

Alumni in Action Kevin Achieng (bottom left) works with fellow teammates to prepare cement for a dormitory he helped construct during a trip to Mbita, Kenya, with the Engineers Without Borders program. COURTESY PHOTO

International Student Defies Odds to Obtain Ph.D. at UW Growing up in Kisumu County, Kenya, Kevin Achieng made sacrifices children shouldn’t have to make to pursue his education. Every morning, he would run to the river and fetch water for his family, barely making it to school on time. Nevertheless, he persisted. He walked barefoot most of the eight years of primary school and lacked the paraffin needed to do his homework by the light of his only tin lamp. He often went hungry for days because there wasn’t any food to eat at home. Before Achieng and his six siblings could finish high school, they lost both parents. Yet, Achieng’s determination and talent for math and science led him to become the best in his class at primary school and second across 28 other schools in the region. He earned a spot at the Maranda High School, one of Kenya’s most prestigious high schools, but met another hardship as he realized his mother could not afford the tuition.

Still, Achieng was determined to work hard at the village high school instead and earn his place at the university. His hard work to earn perfect scores in his schoolwork landed him a spot at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Kenya’s best engineering school in Nairobi. He was a top student and won the Vice Chancellor’s Academic Award each year during his undergraduate studies, and eventually received two Bachelor of Science degrees in soil, water and environmental engineering and agricultural engineering from JKUAT. While it had seemed as though Achieng had accomplished his goals, he wasn’t finished. After contemplating his next move to pursue a master’s program or Ph.D., he discovered the University of Wyoming’s Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and also noted it was the first state to issue an engineering license in the United

States in the early 1900s. Perhaps it was coincidence or a connected fate that he was also the first from his village to apply and be accepted to a Ph.D. program in the U.S. His destiny to attend a school in the U.S. was coming to fruition, but there was a problem. Expenses were adding up after application and Graduate Record Examination fees, along with the cost of travel. Once again, he found a way to break through by raising money through crowdsourcing and friends, traveled 9,000 miles to Laramie, and found his place in a rigorous program where he flourished. While studying at UW, he obtained 11 fellowships and travel awards and was published in four prestigious journals. He also participated in Engineers Without Borders and traveled back to Mbita, Kenya, with UW Associate Professor David Mukai to build a dormitory for a school to house orphaned and vulnerable children. Achieng attributes much of his life’s opportunities to prayer and hard work. “We lost our parents before any of my siblings and I had a high school diploma,” Achieng says. “But, now three of us have college degrees and two have associate degrees. I thank God for that.” Achieng’s dissertation involved investigating changes in groundwater recharge in the future climate using climate models, machine learning and Bayesian statistics. He found funding to undertake his dissertation with the help of adviser and Associate Professor Jianting “Julian” Zhu, and with grit and relentless perseverance, Achieng graduated with his Ph.D. in the summer of 2019. He briefly returned to Kenya over the summer to see his family and plans to return to Laramie. Fall 2019 • 15

Enhancing Wyoming’s Critical Industries


The upgraded Drilling and Completions Simulator gives students a hands-on learning experience in one of the most advanced labs in North America.

The University of Wyoming has long been known for offering students hands-on, collaborative experiences. The College of Engineering and Applied Science has elevated this offering to a new level with the recent completion of the Well Drilling and Completions Simulator located in the new Engineering Education and Research Building (EERB). Hearing alarms sound and seeing actual drilling models of the Powder River Basin in Wyoming give visitors a sense of what it’s like to be on the deck of an actual drilling operation. The room is complete with virtual reality displays, land rig simulations and even two offshore drilling operator chairs modeled after real equipment. In fact, some dials, knobs and levers were taken from actual rigs to emulate and match the experience of well drilling as closely as possible. In 2014, UW partnered with WPX Energy to offer petroleum engineering students their first hands-on experience

in a drilling simulator teaching laboratory. After the EERB was erected, the machines from that lab were transferred from the Energy Innovation Center (EIC) and expanded to include triple the equipment originally available. The lab located on the second floor of the EERB now is one of the most comprehensive and interactive simulators, giving students the full scope of various forms of oil and gas exploration on land and offshore. The facility was made possible in part by generous funding from Drilling Systems, powered by the 3T Energy Group. The international company is a leading provider of realistic and immersive learning environments that simulate drilling, well control and well intervention. Drilling Systems technicians spent months installing lab equipment alongside petroleum engineering lab director and Associate Lecturer Tawfik Elshehabi, and Professor of Practice Douglas Cuthbertson.

Fall 2019 • 17

College of Engineering and Applied Science Business Manager Cindy Wood demonstrates a virtual reality display inside the new Drilling and Completions Simulator during the EERB grand opening. These displays will give students a better sense of what it’s like to be on an actual drilling rig.

Cuthbertson explains the transformative benefits students will experience with the upgraded technology. “Seeing the simulator for the first time, it creates more visual, mental awareness for people and puts them in that perspective,” Cuthbertson says. Elshehabi opened the facility to various groups throughout the summer, ranging from K-12 students from around Wyoming, to prospective UW students and their families, to graduate students and faculty members from other institutions. About 360 people formally toured the space leading up to the 2019 fall semester, in addition to countless walk-in tours of individuals eager to see the space. A unique solution to UW’s facility was the customization of a mobilefriendly faculty environment. “The simulations are not only unique to Wyoming, but also the entire drilling industry,” Elshehabi explains. “Drilling Systems customized a learning environment just for us so faculty weren’t separated from students during the exercises.

18 • Foresight

We can now introduce different scenarios via a laptop so we can monitor and coach the students as they’re learning.” Another unique aspect of the project is Drilling Systems’ decision to hire an intern, Michael Gardner, a UW undergraduate senior majoring in petroleum engineering. Gardner was responsible for installing displays and electrical wiring below the room’s floating floor, among other tasks. By chance encounter, he met Drilling Systems’ system operator and engineer, Aubrey Holt, who suggested Gardner take part in the assembly of the new room. “During a conversation with Aubrey in the old simulator lab, I explained how excited I was to see and play with the new simulators,” Gardner recalls. “That’s when he asked if I wanted to help build them.” Also located inside the EERB is the Student Innovation Center makerspace, where Gardner 3D printed a life-size and maneuverable drill bit head commonly found on traditional land rigs. Elshehabi intends to use the model in

Associate Lecturer Tawfik Elshehabi (center) leads a tour of high school students who visited the Drilling Simulator lab in the EERB.

his five 2019-20 classes to help other students transform concepts into physical visualization they wouldn’t normally see until after graduation. This collaboration with other laboratories is one of many examples of the EERB expanding the conventional boundaries of single-focus disciplines. “In major drilling operations, there can be as many as 200 people on a deepwater rig from many different disciplines, not just petroleum engineering,” Elshehabi says. “This lab teaches the value of multidisciplinary teamwork in a drilling and completions operation, and we invite other disciplines to be part of this collaboration.” Elshehabi also says this lab is meant for community learning and is not just an exclusive tool for petroleum engineering. “We invite anyone to come tour the facility,” he says. “It’s important for us to create outreach opportunities so we can help educate our community on the importance of this industry.”

Seeing the simulator for the first time, it creates more visual, mental awareness for people and puts them in that perspective. — Douglas Cuthbertson, petroleum engineering professor of practice

Fall 2019 • 19

News & Notes

Francois Jacobs, construction management head and associate professor, talks with his new freshmen about the benefits of a career in construction leadership.

Students who attended orientation in June returned to the college’s annual convocation at the start of the fall semester and were met by some flying friends outside the EERB.

New Format for Freshman Orientation Creates Lasting Student Bonds Each year during June, eager freshmen visit the University of Wyoming campus for new student orientation. Hallways that were dormant for weeks bustle with UW-bound students and parents talking about the future. Attending college and being away from home for the first time can be an exciting but nerve-racking experience for any new freshman. The Advising Center team at the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) has been conducting orientation sessions for years. In previous years, computer labs weren’t large enough to accommodate attendees, so students had to be in one large room for the first part of advising, and then moved to smaller computer labs. “This made it really tough for our staff to connect with students and parents,” CEAS Student Advising Manager Laurie Bonini says. “It worked, but we felt like it could be better, so we started brainstorming on how we could improve.” 20 • Foresight

Bonini and her team decided to implement a new strategy to ensure students could begin familiarizing themselves as majors and peers during orientation. The Advising Center team met weekly throughout the spring semester working on a plan for a collaborative and inclusive experience. The teams connected early with students, asking them to participate in an online scavenger hunt before they arrived on campus. Another new introduction to this year’s orientation sessions was the peer mentor group—a team of current engineering students who provided students with a question-and-answer panel and assisted the orientation staff with various tasks. Mentors weighed in on their experiences regarding what to expect with classes and living the college life. On Monday and Thursday afternoons during orientation, advisers divided up various contact opportunities, giving presentations

with question-and-answer sessions during College Connect. They utilized their newly formed peer mentoring team to attend the Resource Fair to help guide students with questions or concerns about the college experience. To continue the outreach effort, two advisers also attended each parent reception in the Skylight Lounge. The newly opened Engineering Education and Research Building (EERB) also proved to be a valuable venue during the sessions, allowing students a personal look at the stateof-the-art resources available to them. Advisers used the spacious classrooms in the EERB to help students register for classes and answer questions at each of the pod-style tables. Students connected with others in their majors, listened to a short presentation and registered on dozens of laptops purchased by the CEAS dean’s office, with technical support provided by UW Professor Suresh Muknahallipatna and his undergraduate research students.


Freshmen in mechanical engineering sit along the EERB atrium steps as they learn about the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, a requirement for graduates to become professional, licensed engineers.

University of Wyoming Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering Associate Professor Kam Ng has received $765,000 from multiple Department of Transportation state agencies for research on improved pile design used in bridge construction throughout the region. A total of seven states are funding the research until December 2023: Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. Piles are structural supports on certain bridges that can be driven more than 100 feet in various soil and bedrock layers. When driving piles, state agencies and construction companies throughout the region often encounter soft rock, also known as intermediate geomaterial (IGM). The material is not currently well defined in driven piles and can cause unexpected delays and expenses in bridge construction.

Students hear Laurie Bonini, CEAS advising manager, discuss the scavenger hunt rules at the June 2019 orientation.

“Having students in one room was a tremendous time-saver for all involved,” CEAS Coordinator of Alumni and Government Relations Baillie Miller says. “They had access to everything in one place without walking to a different classroom or building.” This inclusive method proved to be equally successful at the start of the 2019 fall semester, when students returned for the college’s annual convocation. After meeting in the UW College of Arts and Sciences auditorium, students returned to the EERB for lunch and department meetings. They were once again grouped by major, sitting among familiar faces, classmates and even new friends. “We saw students interacting with other students on a much deeper level this year,” Bonini says. “This is such an exciting time to be out on their own, and we’re just excited to help them get an early start on becoming a member of the campus community.”

UW Associate Professor Kam Ng has worked on similar, smaller-scale projects with the Wyoming Department of Transportation and other states to test various soil materials in bridge construction. COURTESY PHOTO

Additionally, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Offices does not currently have cost-effective design specifications on how pile foundations are designed and driven into IGM. As principal investigator (PI), Ng’s objective is to research outcomes and recommendations that will provide the basis for establishing revised Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) guidelines and specifications pertaining to piles driven into IGM. Ng will conduct two phases of research alongside co-PI, Professor Shaun Wulff of UW’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics. The first phase will include data collection from state agencies, developing an enriched database and pile load testing. The second phase will involve data interpretation, pile resistance estimation, statistical and cost-benefit analysis and ultimately recommendations on improved pile design and construction on IGM. Ng and his research team have begun conducting field sample tests in Pine Bluffs, Wyo., and will collect data from two sites per funding state throughout phase one. A final presentation at the end of the five-year grant will be given to funding agencies to facilitate the implementation of research recommendations.

News & Notes Mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate Stephan Brinckmann and first-year graduate student Jackson Rambough display a computer model and prototype of the turbine blade that will be 3D printed during the research grant.

STUDENTS, FACULTY AND ALUMNUS COLLABORATE TO MAKE JET ENGINE TURBINES MORE EFFICIENT 3D printed prototypes, such as the ones shown below, allow researchers to better optimize their designs.

22 • Foresight

Two faculty members in the University of Wyoming’s Mechanical Engineering Department, Professor and Department Head Carl Frick and Associate Professor Ray Fertig, have been awarded a research grant through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in collaboration with researchers at Penn State University led by Stephen Lynch, a UW alumnus. The three-year, $1 million grant will fund research to investigate a fundamentally new approach to fabrication of gas turbine engine vanes using additive manufacturing (3D printing) of ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) with optimized cooling design. Current gas turbines manufactured with superalloy materials are currently near their upper limit of temperature; additional engine efficiencies will require new materials that can tolerate higher temperatures. CMCs are ideal for this application, but are difficult to fabricate with appropriate cooling.

The novel approach taken by the UW researchers will focus on combining their new manufacturing technique with advanced thermomechanical optimization approaches to redesign completely the interior structure and cooling of CMC turbine vanes. Frick’s team at UW will 3D print a turbine vane with internal cooling out of silicon oxycarbide matrix with embedded silicon carbide fibers for testing in transonic conditions. Fertig’s team will use computational modeling to simulate and design the optimized blades for thermomechanical performance. Lynch and his Penn State collaborator, Michael Hickner, will test the UW prototypes, refine the 3D printing resins, and focus on characterization, initial turbine cooling design and aerothermal testing. Stephan Brinckmann, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering, and Jackson Rambough, a first-year mechanical engineering graduate student, have also been hired as part of the project to help produce the 3D printed materials. Both students spent most the summer moving equipment and assembling the materials lab inside the new Engineering Education and Research Building (EERB) and are excited about the collaborative environment offered by the other labs inside the facility. “If we have a problem that, say, a chemistry student may have more knowledge on, we can literally walk across the hall and get answers to our questions,” Rambough says. Brinckmann adds that their research is benefiting from neighboring department experts. “Materials science is interdisciplinary by nature, so having the proximity to other disciplines inside the EERB has been really beneficial to our research,” he says.

Second Annual WyoHackathon Grows to Multi-Day Blockchain Stampede The College of Engineering and Applied Science hosted the WyoHackathon for a second year Sept. 19-22 inside the new Engineering Education and Research Building (EERB). This year, the event expanded into a multi-day educational opportunity called the Wyoming Blockchain Stampede at the 2019 WyoHackathon. Hackers from around the world traveled to Laramie and competed in various challenges worth more than $200,000 in prizes, also known as “bounties” in hackathons. Attendees also had access to a development and business conference with world-renowned speakers and panelists, including University of Wyoming alumnae Caitlyn Long and state Rep. Tyler Lindohlm, both of whom serve on the Wyoming Blockchain Task Force. The task force arranged to have its third meeting of 2019 during the Wyoming Blockchain Stampede so global conference goers could see firsthand how Wyoming is making history in blockchain legislation. In addition to hearing from industry leaders on blockchain news, the task force voted unanimously to ask Gov. Mark Gordon to support a $2 million budget request from the UW Board of Trustees to support blockchain programming in the college. The blockchain movement has continued to build momentum, and Wyoming has become a hub to bring industry experts and enthusiasts together. The conferences and competitions were free and open to the public in part through a generous donation from title sponsor Kraken, a digital asset exchange and crypto champion. This open access allowed UW and K-12 students a close-up look at the emerging industry, including a group of students from Shoshoni, Wyo., which brought several teams to the hackathon. Shoshoni Junior High School students Abby

Ballard and Kiana Swann competed together in the Green Challenge, where their team developed a concept for a simple and interactive game that explains how the average person can pay for their energy usage with Green™ blockchain technology. Swann described the importance of competing in opportunities such as the WyoHackathon as a young student in Wyoming. “This field is really important to our future,” Swann says. “I’m really interested in the technology and electronic side of computer science, and the [Wyo]Hackathon is a great chance for us to meet new people and compete with top teams.” These experiences for young students are critical to Wyoming’s recent mandate to include computer science education in K-12 classrooms. UW’s Department of Computer Science Head and Professor Ruben Gamboa recognizes the importance of immersive learning and the college’s decision to host WyoHackathon inside the EERB. “Currently, several faculty and students are engaged in blockchain technology and applications, and the department plans to expand further into related areas,” Gamboa says. “Our new Engineering Education and Research Building has been an excellent venue to showcase Wyoming’s commitment to elevate our students and vision for the future of computer science and applications.” The weekend events concluded with a celebration and the Sandcastle Invitational Challenge as part of the Sandcastle Startups Challenge global tour, leading up to its world finals in Dubai in fall 2020. Invitational winners in Wyoming’s regional qualifier were awarded a share of the $25,000 prize and will have a chance to compete again for a $250,000 prize in Dubai.

(Above) University of Wyoming students competed well during the 2019 WyoHackathon, winning a combined “bounty” prize total of more than $3,500. From left: Miles Golding, Finley McIlwaine, Kegan McIlwaine, Yikai Peng and Winston Howard. Shoshoni Junior High School eighth-graders Kiana Swann (left) and Abby Ballard stand next to their game concept storyboard during the 2019 WyoHackathon.

Fostering Collaboration in UW’s Largest Makerspace In the last decade, makerspace facilities have allowed the engineering community to better support research and even entrepreneurial ventures by creating physical evidence of their work. The University of Wyoming’s Engineering Education and Research Building (EERB) is home to many advanced and active-learning laboratories, including the College of Engineering and Applied Science Student Innovation Center (SIC). At 3,500 square feet, it’s the best-equipped makerspace available at UW and the largest of four on campus. Stateof-the-art machines such as the Stratasys J750 can print 3D models in up to 500,000 different colors. Users also have

Students, faculty and community members will have access to dozens of makerspace machines to assist with projects and research. Martha Wilson watches a demonstration on a laser cutter during a grand opening tour inside the EERB.

access to lower-cost equipment, such as desktop 3D printers or more industrial printers that can produce 3D printed materials in rubber, carbon fiber and metal. These printers are only the beginning of the makerspace’s capabilities, as participants can also manufacture their creations with precision laser cutters and a full-scale woodshop. EERB makerspace coordinator Tyler Kerr says the robust technology allows UW to offer students a central hub for all their making needs. “It’s rare to have so much technology with so many different applications in one place,” Kerr says. “It’s wonderful for our program, because it’s truly a one-stop shop.”

He adds that collaboration across disciplines and knowledge sharing are common practices among the maker community. During the inception of the EERB, officials designed the SIC to promote interdisciplinary practice among faculty and students. Over the summer, petroleum engineering student Michael Gardner printed a full-scale, maneuverable oil rig drill bit that will be used as a visual model for other undergraduate students in the program. Mechanical engineering graduate students Jackson Rambough and Stephan Brinckmann are creating

new materials for breakthrough research on jet engine turbines with Professor Carl Frick and Associate Professor Ray Fertig on their U.S. Department of Energy grant. Frick describes the makerspace in the EERB as an essential part of their research. “We now have a facility that puts us on par with other top-tier universities,” Frick says. “We feel more comfortable engaging in this activity, because we can leverage both the expertise and our cutting-edge facilities. It’s almost undoable without that.”

The EERB Student Innovation Center is now the largest makerspace at UW with more than $1.5 million of open-access equipment. Funding for space was made possible in part by generous donations from Carolyn and Maynard Morris; Richard and Marilyn Lynch; Black Hills Energy; and Kenneth L. Hoy, Ph.D. PHOTO COURTESY OF GE JOHNSON

ACCESSIBILITY & AFFORDABILITY Kerr and other faculty are committed to ensuring access to the new makerspace stays affordable. Students or faculty members on a budget can use applicable equipment for free, only paying for materials at-cost. Community accessibility is another important factor in the facility’s purpose, as it provides a unique resource that wouldn’t otherwise be available to citizens. Community members can participate in up to 46 free workshops and make creations for the same cost as enrolled students. Kerr’s group is not the only program in the college to provide open-access workshops within the new EERB. The co-directors of the Center for Design Thinking, Amy Banic, an associate professor of computer science, and Brandon Gellis, an assistant professor of graphic

design and emergent technology, will offer a community workshop on design thinking and entrepreneurship this academic year. Banic has also used the makerspace frequently for prototyping with her classes. The SIC has also implemented a custom merit badge system to help makers become familiar with different equipment. All users are given an initial safety course and can attend various workshops to earn new badges. As their merit increases, they can earn free materials and even voting rights to a new committee that will help steer the vision of the makerspace over the next five years. As outreach efforts continue, Kerr invites the public to stop by and see what the makerspace has to offer. Tour and workshop reservations can be booked online at uwyo.edu/sic.

Fall 2019 • 25



Co-Director Amy Banic (left) explains to grand opening attendees how the Center for Design Thinking space was designed to promote cross-disciplinary collaboration.

IT’S ALL IN THE NAME Between the state-of-the-art laboratories and active-learning classrooms inside the new Engineering Education and Research Building (EERB) lies one of the most mesmerizing student learning facilities at the University of Wyoming. The Center for Design Thinking (CDT) is a two-story suite adorned with communal seating on one half and working pods on the other. The spaces are seamed together by smartboard technology and a high-top table station spanning the first floor. Up the stairs are faculty offices situated adjacent to a connected conference room with a specialized table designed to ensure participants always have visual contact with one another. Watching students create physical prototypes at collaborative work stations makes it easy to foresee how the room could be ground zero for 26 • Foresight

future ideas that could change the world. The space is a wonder. However, it’s what happens within its walls that makes it truly unique. It’s all in the name: design thinking. Design thinking has become a common term and a driving force behind stunning product development from technology leaders such as Microsoft and Apple. It provides a solution-based approach to solving complex problems and creating desired outcomes that benefit the end user. In short, it’s a thoughtful, collaborative and human-centric process that brings a product to life. More importantly, the space at UW is creating an interdisciplinary learning opportunity not previously available in the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS). The co-directors of the CDT, Amy Banic, an associate professor of

computer science, and Brandon Gellis, an assistant professor of graphic design and emergent technology, are the first faculty from their respective disciplines at UW to develop a curriculum to bring computer science and arts to the same table. Before the CDT, computer science and arts students were taught in separate spaces with completely different curricula, and they rarely interacted on an academic basis. With undergraduate students graduating at record rates, job competition has become fierce in technology and product design. Banic says their cross-disciplinary curriculum is going to better prepare students for life after college. “Students going out into the workforce need cross-disciplinary skills,” she says. “For example, a computer scientist can make a niche for themselves in the market with skills in design beyond a focus in programming. But,

the Center for Design Thinking is for everyone—not just art or computer science—rather all disciplines will benefit from these skills.” “To be competitive, they have to be well rounded,” adds Gellis. IN THE RIGHT PLACE, AT THE RIGHT TIME Many people involved in the Center for Design Thinking shared common interest in developing a different kind of space, but introducing an atypical classroom setting to the world of higher education is not a small task. The idea began after UW opened the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) in 2018. The purpose of the organization was to serve as the “front door” for access to the university’s resources that support entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship activities across the state. Jack Mason

was hired as chief operating officer in November 2018. Mason’s experience in running successful startups and businesses is what caught the eye of former CEAS Dean Michael Pishko, who was centered on carrying the Tier 1 Engineering Initiative forward by introducing progressive programs that pushed the constraints of traditional academic boundaries. The CEAS already had a robust computer science program, led in part by Banic and other faculty. Her progression as a thought leader opened the door for prototyping concepts in her Interactive Realities research laboratory, and she was eager to continue interdisciplinary collaboration with other units. The IIE was also amid outreach efforts to form various programs and saw major potential in the world of design thinking, but there was a problem. The two disciplines

needed to form a cohesive design thinking space were in two separate colleges. So, Pishko did what any progressive program would do: he contacted the UW College of Arts and Sciences to see if any other faculty shared the vision Mason had already begun to form. About the same time, Banic and Gellis began discussions of collaborating on a cross-disciplinary curriculum. Pishko brought everyone together to make these independent visions a collective reality. Gellis, who had been part of many UW committees in the past to encourage interdisciplinary academics, heard about the IIE’s intention to develop a new space to foster collaboration between computer science and art students. After hearing the dean’s vision, he immediately jumped on board for the new facility and was named co-director alongside Banic.

Students work together in a design thinking workshop using human-centric processes to develop prototypes and solutions. PHOTO COURTESY OF AMY BANIC

Fall 2019 • 27

As the EERB building plans progressed, blueprints were drawn for a place where students from different programs could come together and use the talents of many to create conceptual solutions that would not otherwise be possible in a traditional classroom setting. Banic, alongside the CEAS entrepreneur in residence with the IIE, Peter Scott, had laid important groundwork for breaking the mold of physical spaces not conducive to design thinking. The pair taught a first-year seminar in 2018 called Innovation and Entrepreneurship, but in a much more typical classroom setting with standard table rows and chairs. Banic recalls the barriers the previous classroom posed on collaboration as she and Scott prepare to host their second seminar, but this time in the brand-new CDT space. “To be in rows of tables and work on collaborative projects and design thinking methods was a challenge,” Banic says. “Students can now see each other face to face [in the Center for Design Thinking] with work spaces for prototyping and design, which wasn’t feasible in a traditional classroom.” Banic’s experience teaching collaborative workshops and Gellis’ eye for design helped them form intelligent decisions on how to outfit the new rooms. They visited eight other


institutions, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Georgia Tech, and used what they learned to determine how the space would be arranged. Throughout the visits, Gellis also remained true to ensuring the CDT would not just be for proprietary research. “While many universities were happy to share their learned lessons, some of the places we visited were only accessible if the individuals using them had certain financial means,” he says. “Before we left, we decided we didn’t want to have a proprietary lockdown

on things, and I think that’s what the EERB represents—the sharing and open access to knowledge.” SUPPORTING FUTURE ENTREPRENEURS Banic and Gellis will work closely with the IIE to connect students with industry mentors, innovation opportunities and even internships. Their goal is to align student projects with various entrepreneurial competitions across campus. Initial plans have also been set in motion to create an interdisciplinary workshop and a design competition in which students outside the CEAS will be encouraged to bring project prompts to the center so they can learn to ideate and prototype, along with creating promotional materials. Projects being developed in the center will be posted on the CDT website with the goal of connecting students’ solutions with industry professionals. The hope is that the progress on their projects using design thinking methods will fuel innovation and refine their ideas to better feed into the entrepreneurship programs already available at UW. This continued visibility and outreach are an important part of fulfilling the IIE’s mission and setting a path in motion for students pursuing their dream careers. Gellis is passionate about showing students a different perspective while pursuing their degrees after watching many of his own form successful careers through interdisciplinary thinking. “I want to instill in students that a love for a hobby can become a career,” he says. “I get goose bumps when I think about empowering students to become their own thinkers and to be inclusive, and help others along the way.”

The EERB contains several laboratories, including the Interactive Realties lab, led by Amy Banic and Domen Novak. Projects in this lab have used the design thinking process in research. Angie Schrader (left) participates in a virtual reality demonstration with computer science Ph.D. student Rajiv Khadka during the EERB grand opening.

News & Notes

Top High School Seniors Attend 32nd Annual Engineering Summer Program With a goal of inspiring future engineers, the University of Wyoming’s College of Engineering and Applied Science hosted 37 rising high school seniors at the 32nd annual Engineering Summer Program (ESP) for high school students June 16-22. Students experienced hands-on discovery and attended classes on topics including physical computing, material science, civil engineering, atmospheric science, sustainability, combustion and computer science. In addition to the courses, participants explored petroleum and chemical engineering during a daylong field trip to a Halliburton hydraulic fracturing laboratory in Colorado and the Sherard Water Treatment Plant in Cheyenne, along with a trip to the UW Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium. According to ESP Program Director Jeff Anderson, students who participate in this program often matriculate to UW and form study groups that last throughout their college experience.

In addition, the program allows participants get to know some of the professors as well as the rest of the UW campus. “One thing we try to do is have them build relationships with faculty so, when they’re trying to decide where they want to go study, they already have a connection at the University of Wyoming,” Anderson says. “This year’s cohort represents a diverse group of top-performing students. We were thrilled to welcome them to campus.” Sponsors of the ESP are Union Wireless, Halliburton, the Wyoming Engineering Society, Kennedy Foundation, Kester Funding and the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Scan this with a QR code reader to see this year’s Engineering Summer Program highlights!

“The Engineering Career Services Team helped me achieve my goal of finding an internship at Twitter by reviewing my résumé and helping with my ‘elevator pitch.’ They bolstered my confidence so when I attended the National Society of Black Engineers to meet with different companies, I felt ready.”



Job & Internship Search

Resume Review

Interview Prep

Company Tracking

Job Fair Prep

Employer Relations

To send a job notice or learn about our services, contact us at CEASCareerServices@uwyo.edu

Fall 2019 • 29


UW mechanical engineering faculty members Carl Frick (front, from left) and Ray Fertig recently were appointed to a unique professorship geared toward product innovation and entrepreneurship with regional businesses. Mechanical engineering graduate students Mathew Jones (second row, from left) and Geoffrey Buck have been hired to support the professorship team.

Unique UW Professorship to provide Regional Entrepreneurial Solutions Professorships are a great way for universities to attract top faculty talent. Two faculty members from the College of Engineering and Applied Science’s Department of Mechanical Engineering recently were appointed to a non-endowed, team professorship — funded by Snaptron Inc., located in Windsor, Colo. The recipients, Department Head and Professor Carl Frick and Associate Professor Ray Fertig, explain how this professorship brings opportunity to the University of Wyoming and state.

30 • Foresight

How is this professorship different than traditional appointments? FRICK: The nature of this professorship is actively looking for opportunities that directly foster entrepreneurship and innovation. That’s a little different from a traditional professorship that maybe focuses on forming a minor or some sort of degree program within the university. FERTIG: We’ll have a distinct focus of specifically looking for ways to create economic opportunities between technical businesses and UW.

What piqued your interest in having an entrepreneurial-focused professorship? FRICK: I co-founded a startup company in 2017 called Impressio Inc., which translated research done in the laboratory into improved impact materials that enhance safety in athletic helmets. In some prior engagement with Snaptron, we realized there were more opportunities to continue developing technology needed by many, not just one company. FERTIG: Prior to joining UW, I was the senior research engineer for Firehole Technologies, which was a UW spinoff company acquired by Autodesk. I saw firsthand the value of a Wyoming-based technology company. FRICK: So, we’re essentially relating our own experiences to this. How will you recruit different companies to participate? FERTIG: We don’t have a topic focus, but rather an entrepreneur focus. We’re specifically looking for involvement from companies that can find synergy with our resources and expertise at the university. Many of the same problems could manifest into a single need or tangible product. FRICK: What we want to do now is interface with companies and ask them about their largest problems; identify a common theme, and then take the large expertise at UW to find an economic opportunity where we can derive a product or solution that can be used by many. Do you have any prospects yet, and how are you getting connected? FRICK: This is sponsored by Snaptron, and they’re really helping us connect with businesses that are in need of a common solution. Since July, we’ve met with several companies in the region, and our long-term goal is to create two to three startups, which

will meet a common need for various engineering and technology-related businesses. FERTIG: We plan to meet with at least 30 companies within the first year to see if we can find that commonality. How do you break the mold of a traditional researcher and engage with businesses through a business development lens? FRICK: I participated in a program called Innovation Corps, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. It helped us test a hypothesis for each individual part of our [Impressio] business model, and I talked to over 100 potential customers or partners across 15 different cities. I found when you listened to stakeholders like helmet manufacturers, trainers, doctors and parents to hear their perspective, they’re really open to talking about finding a solution to a common problem. I can’t overstate how much that program helped prepare me for this endeavor. Why did you choose to work together on this? FERTIG: We solve similar problems from a different angle. My forte is computational and theory, and Carl’s is experimental and fabrication, so we have a complementary understanding in materials science. FRICK: Modeling has become ubiquitous. There’s a huge financial and time-saving advantage to being able to vet 30 product designs through a simulation and understand how each performs. We can whittle down on what we think might work through modeling and continue to experiment from there. FERTIG: We collaborate often because there’s almost always a need for both experimentation and modeling when building new materials. FRICK: Full-scale tests are expensive. Predicting the performance of materials

can save companies from making million-dollar mistakes. UW just opened the new Engineering Education and Research Building. How is this new facility helping with the professorship? FRICK: We now have a venue that puts us on par with other toptier universities, so we feel more comfortable engaging in this activity, because we can leverage both the expertise and cutting-edge facilities. It’s almost undoable without that. FERTIG: I’m also looking forward to collaborating with other disciplines who aren’t necessarily located in the new building, like our progressive Department of Computer Science. It’s infrequent that mid-range businesses can afford to have a permanent research and development team on staff and, as a consequence, it can be a challenge for them to derive new, innovative products to remain at the forefront of their industry. We have a broad contingent of experts across the university who can help us with expanded disciplines, such as machine learning and mathematic modeling. And it’s is a great way for us to plug in with these projects. How are students becoming involved in the professorship? FERTIG: We’ve initially hired two mechanical engineering graduate students to help us facilitate interactions with prospective businesses. Geoffrey Buck and Matthew Jones are the first to be hired. FRICK: They’re gaining real-world industry experience, all the while building their graduate theses. It’s a very unique opportunity that most students only get through internships, if they choose that route, so we’re really excited about their involvement.

Fall 2019 • 31

Alumni in Memoriam

We regret to announce the recent passing of the following alumni. Our greatest sympathy is extended to families of these valued friends. Kenneth Ames BSME ’59 – Aurora, Colo.

Robert Coeling BSME ’60 – Elkhart, Ind.

John Bailey BSME ’49 – Des Moines, Wash.

Terry Easton BSEE ’85 – Casper, Wyo.

John Balog BSCE ’50 – Seattle, Wash. Carl Bowman BSME ’68 – Columbia, S.C. Louis Breuninger BSCE ’58 – Grants Pass, Ore. William Broomall BSME ’63, MSME ’64 – Austin, Texas William Bush BSME ’47 – Columbus, Ohio Keith Campman BSME ’61 – Castle Rock, Colo.

32 • Foresight

Paul Rechard BSCE ’48, MSCE ’49, professional diploma ’55 – Laramie, Wyo.

Arden Fabricius BSAE ’67 – Billings, Mont.

Ralph “Greg” Schaefer BSCE ’78, MS ’82 – Gillette, Wyo.

Brent Foster BSGE ’61 – Bonita, Calif.

James Snyder BSGE ’56 – Ajo, Ariz.

Kenneth Hoy BS Pharmacy ’50, Doctorate ’55, honorary degree ’95 – Gettysburg, Pa.

Kateri Souza BSCS ’04 – Aurora, Colo.

Jerry Maki BSPE ’59 – Houston, Texas Lilvon Michael BSME ’61 – Round Rock, Texas Kenneth Payne BSEE ’55 – Albuquerque, N.M.

Donald Stinson Undergraduate degree ’50 – Laramie, Wyo. Randall VanVleet BSCS ’84 – Riverton, Wyo. Charles Wilson BSCE ’56 – St. George, Utah Richard Wilson BSPE ’62 – Bend, Ore.

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CoNgrat uLat ioNs!


David Bell Chemical Engineering Professor

Shane Murphy Atmospheric Science Associate Professor

John Oakey Chemical Engineering Professor

Kim Buckner Computer Science Senior Lecturer

Carl Frick Mechanical Engineering Professor

Ann (Nancy) Peck Mechanical Engineering Senior Lecturer

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Foresight – Fall 2019  

University of Wyoming's College of Engineering and Applied Science; Foresight Magazine; Fall 2019

Foresight – Fall 2019  

University of Wyoming's College of Engineering and Applied Science; Foresight Magazine; Fall 2019

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