Foresight – Spring/Summer 2021

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GREATER INCLUSIVITY AND COLLABORATION How Engineering is Charting the Way Forward

. m o o r s s a l c e g a r e v A r u no t y o e Discover the difference at the University of Wyoming’s College of Engineering and Applied Science.

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3 / Leading the Way Female faculty members share their research, teaching and mentorship.

02 / Message from the Dean

16 / Bringing Education to Light Thanks to a generous alumnus, the 9H Research Foundation’s solar facility will offer students and faculty the chance for hands-on learning in renewable energy. 25 / Robotics Rehab Gym Strives for optimal learning outcomes with human trainees. 26 / The Innovation Generation UW’s Innovation Wyrkshop partners with Division of Vocational Rehabilitation on statewide makerspace project.

09 / News & Notes 12 / Faculty in Action 15 / Alumni in Action 20 / News & Notes 29 / News & Notes 30 / CEAS Highlight 32 / Alumni In Memoriam

On the Cover An experimentalist with a focus on innovations to enhance the durability of concrete and masonry, Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management Associate Professor Jennifer Eisenhauer Tanner’s research includes constructive destruction.

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Message from the Dean

University of Wyoming College of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Cameron Wright Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education David Mukai Associate Dean, Graduate Education and Research David Bagley Director, Business Operations Mēgan Barber Administrative Associate Jeanne Moede


*Thank you to all contributing writers for creating a dynamic and diverse collection of content.

In this edition of Foresight, we recognize our college’s success is greater when we appreciate people of all identities, diverse perspectives, and life experiences who develop, learn, and contribute to overcoming the energy and technology challenges facing today’s world. Bringing diverse perspectives to the table means new ideas, different approaches, and innovative and inclusive solutions. That’s why there’s a push to encourage more women and other underrepresented groups to pursue careers in STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—fields. Learn how the College of Engineering and Applied Science’s female faculty are leading the way in research, teaching, and mentorship. Our college continues to create access and opportunities for all voices to be valued and respected. For example, this commitment is realized through the various efforts of our college’s student organizations such as Society of Women Engineers, Engineers Without Borders, and the National Society of Black Engineers. Discover the new collaboration of a University of Wyoming College of Engineering and Applied Science alumnus who is using his Laramie ranch to create a solar energy research facility that will donate its energy proceeds to the university while also creating research and curriculum opportunities for students and faculty members. Learn more about our recent efforts to build and sustain inclusiveness in our Wyoming communities through our Innovation Wyrkshop’s recent partnership with Wyoming’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) to become champions of providing valuable training to persons with disabilities. I hope you enjoy reading these stories and so many more, as we continue to foster an inclusive and collaborative community in supporting our students, faculty, and staff. I hope to continue this conversation with you, as we continue to strive for excellence.

Foresight is created twice per year as a collaboration between CEAS and UW Institutional Marketing. For additional copies, contact us at 307-766-3256.


Departments: Atmospheric Science Bart Geerts, Head 307-766-2261 | Chemical Engineering Patrick Johnson, Head 307-766-2500 | Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management Tony Denzer, Head 307-766-2390 | Computer Science Ruben Gamboa, Head 307-766-5190 | Electrical and Computer Engineering John McInroy, Head 307-766-2240 | Mechanical and Energy Systems Engineering Carl Frick, Head 307-766-2122 | Petroleum Engineering Dennis Coon, Interim Head 307-766-4258 | Editors Caitlyn Spradley, Micaela Myers, Chad Baldwin, and Baillie Miller Graphic Design Michelle Eberle, Emily Edgar and Brittny Wroblewski Photography All photos by Ted Brummond and Kyle Spradley unless otherwise noted

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.

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

Nga Nguyen and graduate student Abir Muhtadi work on a PCB communication board.

LEADING THE WAY Female faculty members share their research, teaching and mentorship.

By Micaela Myers

Bringing diverse perspectives to the table means new ideas, different approaches, and innovative and inclusive solutions. That’s why there’s a push to encourage more women and other underrepresented groups to pursue careers in STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—fields. The Society of Women Engineers reports that, in 2017, only 9.5 percent of female freshmen intended to major in engineering, math/statistics or computer science. What’s more, more than 32 percent of women switch out of STEM degrees in college. In the workforce, only 13 percent of engineers are women. The University of Wyoming employs female faculty in each of the College of Engineering and Applied Science departments. These hard-working professors not only run productive labs, but they also teach and mentor. Here, we spoke with just a handful of these top faculty members about their work.

Nga Nguyen, Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering Nguyen’s research focuses on the impacts of renewable energy resources on power system stability and reliability, as well as investigating advanced methods to increase the integration of renewable energy resources into the power grid. “I am interested in research on the integration of renewable energy resources into the power grid, as renewable energy resources bring a lot of benefits to our society, including no fuel cost, no pollution and unlimited supply,” she says. “However, they bring some challenges to system stability and reliability due to their intermittent output and low inertia. Therefore, our research tries to model the impacts of renewable energy resources on the power grid and examines advanced methods to increase renewable energy resources penetration while maintaining system resilience.” Nguyen also teaches several courses on power system operation and digital signal processing. She loves working with UW’s bright, creative and passionate students and says Nga Nguyen with a small-scale wind turbine she uses in K-12 Outreach presentations.

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she learns a lot from them as well. “These young students will be our future,” Nguyen says. “I hope that my teaching can be a small contribution.” She notices the far lower number of female students in engineering and believes a diverse student body—including more female students—brings more diverse ideas and a better working environment. “I think we have to start from early education, K-12, giving girls more exposure to STEM, as well as encouraging them and having appropriate policies to support them when they pursue a career in STEM,” Nguyen says. “Education in the family is also very important. It can change the ways girls look at STEM.”

Jennifer Eisenhauer Tanner, Associate Professor, Ci vil and Archi tectural Engineering and Construction Management Not many people get to break things for a living. But as an experimentalist with a focus on innovations to enhance the durability of concrete and masonry, Tanner’s research includes constructive destruction. “You predict something, then you test it,” she explains. “I enjoy solving problems and helping make life better for people.” Part of her research includes working closely with the Wyoming Department of Transportation to help create longer-lasting concrete bridge decks. She also works with private companies and earns national research funding. Tanner teaches first-year through graduate-level courses, including masonry and concrete design, and has written a textbook on the subject. She incorporates active and handson learning whenever possible. “When I teach a senior design class, I have them use the design code they’ll be using in their first job, so they’re familiar with it and don’t need as much on-the-job training,” Tanner says. It’s one of the many ways she incorporates professional skills into her courses. She also tries to make her female students feel welcome with networking events such as getting together for tea. “Some female students have an imposter syndrome and need to build some confidence,” Tanner says. “It’s important to have a network. When I go to the American Concrete Institute conference, they have a women in engineering event. I’ve made a lot of lifelong friends through that group. Many of my students have gotten jobs from my regional network.” Students need mentors and mirrors, so having female faculty is important. Tanner speaks to undergraduate students throughout the region to promote UW’s Women in Graduate

Jennifer Eisenhauer Tanner illustrates to Kim Lau how the strain is measured in a concrete shrinkage specimen.

Education scholarship. She also openly shares with her students how she balances motherhood and her career. In addition to female students, Tanner mentors international students, utilizing her first-hand experiences from studying in Costa Rica. Together with Mary Katherine Scott in the Honors College, they also lead an educationabroad course to the Yucatan Peninsula to teach about Mayan culture and building. She says: “Engineering is best when we have a diverse team. Diversity includes so many different things. The more differences we have, the better solutions we come to.”

Lamia Goual, A.J. Castagne Professor, Pe troleum Engineering Goual remembers her first undergraduate internship 30 years ago in the Sahara Desert, working in a cement and stimulation laboratory as the only female. “As a result, I was the center of attention and sometimes scrutiny,” she says. “Several years later, I traveled to the same location and was thrilled to find many female engineers working in the field. The company was able to change people’s mindsets and working experiences by closing the gender gap. More and more companies are doing the same nowadays, and it is having a tremendous impact on society.” As UW’s only female petroleum engineering professor,

Goual continues to be a trailblazer. “Women in STEM should not be afraid to step into male-dominated fields,” she says. “There is a manifold of benefits to having females in the workplace, because they have a different way of looking at things and that could lead to more creativity and innovation. They are a source of inspiration to their children and community and should be provided with a supportive environment that allows them to strike a balance between their professional and personal lives without having to sacrifice one for the other.” As a mother and a scholar, Goual believes an interest in STEM must be cultivated from a young age. Knowing this, she participates in many outreach activities targeting women, minorities and students from underrepresented groups. “I use multi-scale imaging and virtual reality to teach basic scientific concepts and explain my research to elementary and middle school kids across the state,” she says. “I provide tours and hands-on laboratory activities to Native Americans from Central Wyoming College. I also use my teaching grants to organize annual field trips with high school students attending the Engineering Summer Program. All these initiatives have provided my graduate students with rewarding opportunities to teach K-12 kids and foster their interest in STEM-related fields.” Spring/Summer 2021 • 5

Lamia Goual, A.J. Castagne Professor in Petroleum Engineering, and Bingjun Zhang, graduate student from China, use atomicscale imaging to gain a better understanding of how molecules of rock, oil and gas interact with one another.

At UW, Goual has supervised many successful graduate students, half of whom are females, and she mentors undergraduate and graduate students in her lab. One of her former students won first place in the 2018 Society of Petroleum Engineers international student paper contest and has started her own company in Wyoming. Having access to world-class facilities at the Center of Innovation for Flow through Porous Media and the Engineering Education and Research Building provides Goual with a stimulating working environment to innovate and excel in her field. As a result, she is one of the very few petroleum engineering female faculty in the nation to receive the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award. “My teaching philosophy is reflected in this award, which encourages translational work by taking the research out of the laboratory and into the classroom,” she says. A dedicated and supportive instructor, she sets high standards for academic performance in courses such as introduction to petroleum fluids, rocks, interfacial phenomena, carbon engineering and laboratory characterization methods. “My primary fields of research are in petroleum colloid and 6 • Foresight

interface science, nanotechnology, molecular engineering, and flow and transport through porous media, with applications to hydrocarbon recovery, flow assurance, environmental remediation, and carbon utilization and storage,” Goual says. “I am particularly interested in intermolecular and surface interactions, wetting phenomena, functional nanomaterials, and their impact on self-assembly, adhesion and transport.” She studies these phenomena within a multi-scale framework where nano- and micro-scale insights are used to provide physics-based predictions of macro-scale behaviors. “I use a combination of experimental and computational methods, such as high-resolution electron microscopy, digital rock physics and molecular dynamics simulations to establish structure-function relationships and predict the performance of chemical inhibitors, flow enhancers, subsurface remediation and improved oil recovery agents in various oil/ brine/rock systems.” Her main motivation is to address long-lasting challenges faced by the petroleum industry in developing effective, safe and economically viable practices built upon a scientifically sound foundation.

Amy Banic’s research in the Interactive Realities Research Lab focuses on 3D user interfaces for immersive environments, such as virtual and mixed reality.

Amy Banic, Associate Professor, Computer Science Banic believes diverse teams not only come up with new solutions, but also more inclusive solutions. “I think having a diverse set of people from different backgrounds is important for innovation,” she says. “We need to do more to recruit and retain not just women, but people of different races, ethnicities, gender identities and socioeconomic backgrounds.” With this in mind, Banic works hard to mentor all of her students and create an inclusive environment in her classrooms and lab. She aims to expose her students to undergraduate research and the possibility of graduate school early on and helps retain her students by showing them how to integrate their passions into their academic work. “Many students pursue careers based on their perception of what people in those careers are doing. I try to help lift the blinders on careers in computing,” says Banic, who is also codirector of the Center for Design Thinking. “It’s something you can pair with your passion. For example, I’ve paired my passion for art with computer science. When people are passionate about what they are working on, then they tend to be more creative and innovative.” Together with electrical and computer engineering Associate Professor Domen Novak, they run a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates

site that recruits and groups underrepresented minority and women undergraduate students with mentors in a cohort for a 10-week research and professional development experience ( Banic’s research in the Interactive Realities Research Lab focuses on 3D user interfaces for immersive environments, such as virtual and mixed reality. These applications may be used for training, education or scientific simulations. Her work aims to create better interaction and user experience. The technology is rapidly developing and still working toward its potential, which Banic finds exciting. She teaches related coursework in virtual reality systems, computer graphics and user interface/user experience design, and she currently co-teaches a course on innovation and entrepreneurship. “All of those classes have a theme of how to make things more interactive and how to innovate,” Banic says. With technologies that are rapidly developing, students must learn a skillset that will enable them to continue to learn and adapt throughout their careers. “I try to inspire students to pursue a career they’re interested in,” Banic says. “I’m always asking students, ‘What are your hobbies, what do you find interesting, and how can you incorporate that into what you’re learning now?’ That makes it more fun, and they also learn more because they’re being proactive.” Spring/Summer 2021 • 7

Mechanical Engineering Ph.D. candidate Alexandra Howell and Associate Professor Erica Belmont examine biomass samples that they have designed and prepared for the study of wildfire fuels under controlled laboratory conditions.

Erica Belmont, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering Belmont believes representation and mentorship can both go a long way toward recruitment and retention of women in STEM. “Mentorship of students is extremely important to me because I know firsthand how life-changing good mentors can be,” she says. “My most impactful mentor has made a huge difference in my life by being a role model for me professionally and personally, and by always being available when I have needed her guidance in challenging situations. I strive to provide the same for all of my students. I think a mentor-mentee relationship can be especially effective when the participants can relate to each other’s experiences and challenges.” Lose women in STEM, and you miss out on their contributions to society’s great challenges, such as sustainable energy provision, one of Belmont’s research and teaching interests. Her research targets thermochemical conversion of solid 8 • Foresight

fuels, which includes conversion processes such as pyrolysis, gasification and combustion. “My research focuses specifically on ways to convert waste resources to meet energy needs, and the products of these processes when uncontrolled conversion, such as wildfire, occurs,” Belmont says. “I’m passionate about my research because thermochemical conversion pathways and solid fuels, like biomass and waste, have potential to help us meet our energy needs while also meeting environmental targets. At the same time, the uncontrolled conversion of these fuels can lead to significant destruction and pollution. My research group strives for better understanding and control of the dynamics of these fuels under different conditions.” Belmont teaches thermal fluids topics, such as thermodynamics, fluid dynamics and heat transfer at UW. Thermal fluids topics are critical in many engineered and natural systems in our world. She says, “I’m excited to share these topics with our students, inspire them to work in related fields and help prepare them to be impactful engineers.”

News & Notes

Society of Women Engineers at UW Offers Connection, Opportunities By Missy Samp

When Alma Burwell began her studies in mechanical engineering at the University of Wyoming, she frequently felt alone in the traditionally male-dominated field. “The guys I had classes with tended to always seem to know what they were doing, while I continually felt lost and confused,” says Burwell, from Carbondale, Ill. “For a while, I accepted it until my boyfriend convinced me to try SWE out. I never looked back.” This past school year, Burwell served as the president of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) student chapter at UW. SWE’s mission is to empower women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders; expand the image of the engineering and technology professions as a positive force in improving the quality of life; and demonstrate the value of diversity and inclusion. The UW student chapter seeks to promote diversity within all engineering disciplines by providing a network for female engineering students, career enhancement opportunities and outreach events. One of the primary benefits is the connection that students can make with other aspiring and inspiring women engineers, SWE members say. “SWE gives me the opportunity to make friends outside my major who are women,” says Chaney Kennedy, a mechanical engineering major from Denver. “I’ve met some great engineers, and it is incredible to be around so many women in a maledominated field.” Burwell notes the impact that SWE has had on her life. “I have been able to participate in mentorship programs and meet with professionals throughout various timepoints in their careers, who offered extremely helpful insight into what I could do later in my career and be capable of doing,” Burwell says. “As a girl with no engineering background in her family, this was really a huge part of what drove me through engineering. SWE has given me women who I can reach out to and share my struggles and successes with.” UW chapter members have the opportunity to attend the national conference, where they can network and learn from women engineers, and attend a job fair. “During my junior year, I went to the SWE national conference in Anaheim, Calif., and I went to the job fair there,” Kennedy says. “I got two internship offers after the job fair, and I took one at Northrop Grumman. I got a job offer after

I completed the internship. So, thanks to SWE, I have a job right out of college.” Burwell also has a job waiting for her. “Attending the national conference helped me to get the dream job I always wanted,” she says. “I will be a manufacturing engineer at General Motors, ideally in maintenance, but with rotating roles for my start.” Another opportunity SWE offers to members is to participate in outreach events, such as the WomEngineering Conference. The event is designed to introduce middle and high school female students to various engineering disciplines. The young women attend workshops and participate in activities to learn more about engineering fields, discover possible career paths, and talk with women engineers about their experiences.

Students who took part in the 2018 WomEngineering Conference at UW build a water filter with different sizes of activated carbon granules. The activity demonstrated how surface area and retention time can affect the removal of contaminants from water.

Jacy Busboom, a chemical engineering major from Douglas, organized the 2018 conference and helped plan the 2019 conference. “When I was in high school, I knew I wanted to be an engineer, but it was only through summer engineering camps and events similar to this conference that I learned about chemical engineering,” she says. Busboom says her involvement with the conference allowed her to witness a number of smart, creative solutions that the participants demonstrated during activities. “It’s awesome to know that there are some great minds interested in becoming engineers and scientists,” Busboom adds. Spring/Summer 2021 • 9

News & Notes

National Society of Black Engineers at UW Provides Opportunities to Grow Social, Professional Networks By Missy Samp

For Zacchaeus Oni, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) chapter at the University of Wyoming has provided him with a sense of community, starting with the first meeting he attended. “I had tried a few other societies and didn’t really get that welcoming feeling from them,” says Oni, a mechanical engineering major from Lagos, Nigeria. “Then, I attended my first NSBE meeting, and I felt welcomed in terms of people coming over to me and asking me questions about my major, what I’m trying to achieve, and so on. I decided to stick with the group.”

Members of the National Society of Black Engineers at UW gather for a weekly meeting. PHOTO BY OLUMIDE KOLAWOLE

The decision to join NSBE has paid off for Oni. This past school year, he served as the UW chapter’s vice president. He also served as the Rocky Mountain Zone chair of the NSBE’s Region VI from 2018-2020. In this capacity, he helped coordinate networking events and workshops to benefit other student chapters. Founded in 1975, NSBE supports and promotes the aspirations of collegiate and pre-collegiate students and technical professionals in engineering and technology. Its mission is “to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community.” While the national organization has existed for more than 45 years, the UW chapter is still a fairly young group. It was established as a registered student organization in fall 2015. NSBE at UW provides opportunities for students to grow 10 • Foresight

their social networks and expand their professional ones. “By God’s grace, I have met people who have influenced my life greatly professionally and as a person,” says Oreoluwa Babatunde, a computer engineering major, who served as the UW chapter’s president this past school year. “My job as an undergrad research intern with my department was made possible by someone I met from the group.” By joining the local chapter, students can meet and interact with professionals in their field. Members also have the opportunity to participate in the national convention, where they can attend workshops, connect with other NSBE members, and attend a career fair. Brayan Garcia, who just graduated with his Ph.D. in petroleum engineering, attended the convention, which took place virtually this spring. “I decided to go to the convention to see what opportunities I could find regarding jobs and research positions,” says Garcia, from Bogotá, Colombia. “It was a great experience as I had a wide range of options among universities, companies and national labs. I could see what the offerings are like in my field right now.” Membership in the UW chapter is open not only to Black students, but also to minority students studying engineering. “Our chapter is populated with international students from various countries,” says Babatunde, from Aremo, Oyo state, Nigeria. “This helps ensure that our students from other countries don’t miss out on opportunities available here.” Fortune Nwokejiobi, from Nkwerre, Imo state, Nigeria, is a recent member of the student group. “Being involved with NSBE is a great way to learn about different programs the University of Wyoming offers for engineers in general, as well as those specific to Black or minority engineers,” says Nwokejiobi, who is studying computer engineering. “It also provides a platform for me to learn more about my major and how to navigate through it with knowledge from its members, who are well equipped in the engineering field.” Nwokejiobi says the members she has met are friendly and supportive. That describes the sense of community that drew Oni to NSBE several years ago, and he hopes others will feel that connection. “We want to help those that come in after us and give them the best guidance so they feel at ease in the community, and they are given the best advice and opportunity that there is to offer,” Oni says.

UW CHAPTER OF ENGINEERS WITHOUT BORDERS GIVES STUDENTS HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE any maintenance, host food drives and ensure that there are Whether working on water resources available in the cabinet. supply projects to benefit “Having another food cabinet Guatemalan villages or combating location on campus will hopefully food insecurity at the University increase awareness and availability of Wyoming, members of the of this resource for students and UW student chapter of Engineers community members facing food Without Borders (EWB) can insecurity,” says Project Manager gain hands-on experience with Jake Hays, who is majoring in real-world issues. mechanical engineering and The UW student chapter’s minoring in management, from mission is to help disadvantaged Broomfield, Colo. communities improve their quality Meghan Higgins, a project of life through implementation of manager and director of outreach, environmentally and economically helped lead the food cabinet sustainable engineering project and worked on a past projects. EWB at UW impacts project that benefited The communities abroad and locally. Cottage, a nonprofit thrift store Donovan Whitehead, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, One of EWB’s international in downtown Laramie. from Longmont, Colo., stocks the food cabinet in the Engineering projects is the Natividad de Higgins, a civil engineering Building. Whitehead and other members of Engineers Without Borders built the cabinet to help address food insecurity among Maria water supply project in major from Cheyenne, notes she UW students. PHOTO BY MEGHAN HIGGINS San Marcos, Guatemala. The goal has gained numerous practical of the project is to provide safe skills. drinking water to the community while teaching students the “EWB has exposed me to the engineering project process, engineering process. helped refine my leadership skills, taught me how to use Jessa Gegax, who is majoring in computer science and power tools, and helped me acquire valuable experience in minoring in environment and natural resources, is the project areas such as public speaking, marketing and event planning,” manager. Higgins says. “I decided to join the project because I have an interest in Although “engineers” is part of the group’s name, one working internationally and thought this would be the perfect doesn’t need to be an engineering major to get involved, opportunity,” says Gegax, who is from Las Cruces, N.M. says Jonathan Katchmar, EWB president. “From my experience as a project manager, I hope to gain “EWB is more than just an engineering organization. leadership skills and better technical communication skills.” It’s really an organization for all students, regardless of their The UW team is working with numerous engineers majors,” explains Katchmar, an energy systems engineering from EWB-USA, EWB-Guatemala and volunteers from major from Cheyenne. “EWB isn’t exclusively engineering Wyoming. The team plans to travel to Guatemala in January projects. We do other activities such as fundraising, 2022 to help build the water distribution system. community outreach and bonding events.” Another water supply project in Guatemala—Comunidad Hays says EWB’s success comes from the commitment and Maya Nueve de Enero—is wrapping up this year. involvement from fellow students. The student group’s current domestic project addresses the “The great part of our organization is that we have a issue of food insecurity among UW students. Members of diverse and enthusiastic team that is able to put projects the domestic project team built a food cabinet that is located together—both internationally and locally—that truly make in the Engineering Building. Team members will oversee an impact on a community,” Hays says. By Missy Samp

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Faculty in Action

Below left: An air compressor fires a linear ram tester, approximately 10 to 20 mph, to determine the impact performance of a helmet. Below: Impressio Tech utilizes finite element analysis (FEA), a computer modeling approach used to simulate forces. FEA is also taught to UW Department of Mechanical Engineering seniors, as it is used by industries ranging from aerospace to biomedical to power transmission. PHOTOS AND GRAPHICS BY IMPRESSIO TECH


The young men who heard their names called in April’s annual National Football League draft will have to stay on top of their game to find success as a professional football player. The research and innovation of UW Department of Mechanical and Energy Systems Engineering Department Head Carl Frick just might allow those players to have longer, safer careers than they thought possible. Frick co-founded Impressio Tech in 2017 to harness the versatility of liquid-crystal elastomers (LCEs). LCEs have remarkable performance properties, including the ability to actuate like artificial muscles, dissipate high levels of energy, respond to heat stimulus and enable 4D printing. The company’s mission is to materially 12 • Foresight

transform the most important products in the world. Impressio Tech has recruited engineers, material scientists and business leaders to combine material, design, and manufacturing knowledge all in one shop. The company has been engaged by several organizations to solve complex issues, including the NFL and U.S. military for protective equipment and the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health to develop biomedical devices. One of the company’s first projects was to use LCEs for football helmet liners to disperse energy from highspeed collisions. Frick says one of the company’s primary goals is to preserve the health of NFL, college, and youth players. “Theoretically, we can orient these LCE crystals in such a way that they

dissipate energy better than any other material available,” Frick says. “We can design the materials on the molecular level, enabling us to tailor it to different applications, including rethinking the way helmets can be designed.” The company experienced early success and has since grown to 14 employees. Its big break came when Frick and co-founder Chris Yackacki successfully pitched an early helmet design idea using LCEs in a 2018 competition hosted by the NFL called “1st & Future.” That netted the company $50,000 to further study the use of LCEs in football helmets. Fast forward to today, and they’ve improved the concept into a latticepatterned LCE football helmet liner. Rajib Shaha, who previously was a Ph.D. student under Frick at UW and now is employed by Impressio, focused

entirely on this research during his time in Laramie. “We do a lot of the research at UW, including the use of a drop tester and in-house helmet tester,” Frick says. “Mechanical testing is crucial for us to measure LCE performance when combined with custom lattice designs for helmets.” Frick has been a UW faculty member since 2008, and his areas of research include materials science, bioengineering and mechanical engineering to characterize new materials for use in emerging technologies. He’s interested in bringing innovation into the engineering mix, so on two occasions he has participated in the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program. It uses experiential education to help researchers gain valuable insight into entrepreneurship or starting a business.

Above: A 3D helmet liner created for the U.S. Army illustrates the different lattice structures that are position-specific based on the hits it may typically receive, allowing for optimal safety and comfort. Right: University of Wyoming College of Engineering Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Department Head Carl Frick.

It has paid off, as Frick and Impressio Tech’s team have secured nearly $2.9 million in grant funding. Last year, the NFL provided an additional $491,999 to help Impressio Tech prepare for another design challenge. Partnered with helmet manufacturer Schutt, the company will battle three other finalists in the NFL Helmet Challenge in July 2021. The top helmet submission will outperform, based on specified laboratory testing, all helmets currently worn by NFL players. All the research, including the competition, could lead to what Frick calls “the safest helmet ever made.” Spring/Summer 2021 • 13

Faculty in Action

The National Science Foundation/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NSF/NCAR) C-130 aircraft measures biomass burning smoke during the WE-CAN (Western Wildfire Experiment for Cloud Chemistry, Aerosol Absorption and Nitrogen) field campaign in 2018. PHOTO BY SHANE MURPHY PHOTO

is darker, or more light absorbing, than what we see in observations,” says Brown. “This has implications for the climate predictions made by these models.” “When we compare global observations of wildfire smoke to simulated wildfire smoke from a collection of climate models, the vast majority of the models have smoke that is more light absorbing than the observations,” Brown explains. “This means that more energy from the sun is going toward warming the atmosphere in these models, as opposed to what we see in these field campaigns and laboratory studies, which report less absorbing smoke that has more of a cooling effect by scattering light away from the Earth and back to space.” How absorbing these aerosols are in the atmosphere depends on the type of fuel that is burning, as well as the climate of the fire region. Generally, hot, dry grassland fires in Africa and Australia tend to have much darker smoke, which is more absorbing, while cooler, wetter boreal forest fires in North America and Northern Asia tend to have much brighter smoke, which is less absorbing. After researchers made aerosol improvements to the model, African wildfire smoke still tended to be more absorbing than observations. This might be explained by simplifications in how aerosols evolve over time in the model, or it may be due to a lack of observations from this part of the world biasing the results toward the boreal fire regime, Brown explains. “We were able to trace the disagreement between the model and observations to how the models represented the individual smoke particles, or aerosols, in the model,” Brown says. “This came down to how the model characterized their makeup, their size and the mixtures of different types of biomass burning aerosol. When we changed these variables in one of the models, we saw considerable improvement in the simulated smoke.” This comparison of computer models and global observations is valuable for model development groups and may help reduce uncertainty in biomass burning aerosol climate impacts in models, Brown says.

UW Researchers Find Wildfire Smoke is More Cooling on Climate Than Computer Models Assume Shane Murphy, a UW associate professor of atmospheric science, was a contributing author of a paper, titled “Biomass Burning Aerosols in Most Climate Models Are Too Absorbing,” that addresses the impact of wildfires on global climate. Hunter Brown, who graduated from UW in fall 2020 with a Ph.D. in atmospheric science, was the paper’s lead author. Other contributors to the paper included researchers from Texas A&M University; North Carolina A&T State University; the University of Georgia; the Finnish Meteorological Institute; the Center for International Climate and Environmental Science, and Norwegian Meteorological Institute, both in Oslo, Norway; the University of Reading in the United Kingdom; North-West University in South Africa; the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, China; and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. The composition, size and mixing state of biomass burning aerosols determine the optical properties of smoke plumes in the atmosphere which, in turn, are a major factor in dictating how these aerosols perturb the energy balance in the atmosphere. “We found that many of the most advanced climate models simulate biomass burning aerosols or smoke that

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Alumni in Action

UW Pays Tribute to Distinguished Engineering Alumni By Sunnie Lew

The College of Engineering and Applied Science is paying tribute to four distinguished engineering alumni who passed away this last year. Kenneth “Ken” Kennedy, Albert L. “Boots” Nelson, Wayman Wing, and Calvin “Cal” Vaudrey were loyal supporters of the University of Wyoming. Each of these men were known for their remarkable generosity. Kenneth “Ken” Kennedy was born in Wheatland, Wyoming, to early homesteaders of the Chugwater Flats. In addition to wheat farming, he served his community and state in many capacities. He served as Wheatland’s city engineer and Platte County’s county engineer before starting his own company, Kennedy Engineering, in 1965. He was a long-time member of the Wyoming Engineering Society and served as president. He was the recipient of Tau Beta Pi Society’s Eminent Wyoming Engineer Award and UW’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Ken and his wife, Pat, established the J. Kenneth Kennedy and Patricia Powers Trelease Kennedy ESP Endowment, which supports the UW Engineering Summer Program—an extraordinary program that offers high school students hands-on experiences in various engineering fields. Albert L. “Boots” Nelson was

born of ranching parents in Jackson, Wyoming. In 1951, he served as a ski and outdoor survival instructor in the Army Mountain Training Command. Boots founded Nelson Engineering, with offices in Jackson and Buffalo, Wyoming. Nelson Engineering would grow to one of the top engineering firms in the state of Wyoming. He also served as president of both ACEC Wyoming and of the Wyoming Engineering Society. Boots generously supported the Cowboy Joe Club and the Civil and Architectural Engineering department and was an original founder of the H.T. Person Endowment—an endowment that was established to honor Professor, Dean, and President of UW, H.T. Person. Wayman C. Wing was a World War II veteran, a scholar, and an athlete. A first-generation Chinese American, he was born in Evanston, Wyoming. In 1960, he formed the New York firm of Wayman C. Wing Consulting Engineers. A pioneer in seismic design, he received prestigious national awards and led many international construction projects. He authored definitive technical articles on structural design and was a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Wayman received the New York Engineer of the Year Award and was also chosen to be archived in the American Heritage Center. In 1999, he was inducted into the College of Engineering and Applied Science Hall of Fame. In 2020, he was nominated to

receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in WWII. In 1997, Wayman and Eugenia Wing established the Roger G. Wing Memorial Scholarship, in honor of their beloved son. They also made significant contributions to the College of Engineering Technology Fund, the Susan McCormack Scholarship, the American Heritage Center, and the UW Foundation and gave generously to the college’s general fund. Calvin “Cal” Vaudrey was born in Glendo, Wyoming. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and then went on to earn a bachelor’s in civil engineering. Additionally, he earned a master’s and a professional degree in engineering. Upon graduation, Cal taught civil engineering for nine years before joining Banner Associates, Inc. He would later serve as president and CEO of their board for 20 years. Cal was a member of numerous professional associations, including the American Consulting Engineers Council. He was inducted into the College of Engineering and Applied Science Hall of Fame in 2006. Cal Vaudrey was a consistent and loyal donor to the college throughout his lifetime. His annual support provided engineering students with a vast number of learning opportunities and helped shaped the trajectory of the engineering college.

BRINGING 16 • Foresight

A University of Wyoming College of Engineering and Applied Science alumnus is using his Laramie ranch to create a solar energy research facility that will donate its energy proceeds to the university while also creating research and curriculum opportunities for students and faculty members.

Thanks to a generous alumnus, the 9H Research Foundation’s solar facility will offer students and faculty the chance for handson learning in renewable energy. By Micaela Myers

Renewable energy is on the rise. According to the government Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. solar installations have grown 35-fold since 2008. Many University of Wyoming current and prospective students are interested in this growing market. Recently, a College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) generous alumnus dreamed up a great way to give back to his alma mater while providing educational and research opportunities in renewable energy to UW faculty and students. An Idea is Born Gene Humphrey flew helicopters for two tours in Vietnam, studied mechanical engineering at UW and continued to serve for 27 years in the Wyoming Army National Guard, including a tour in Iraq. Humphrey put his education to good use, creating the highly successful technology company International Test Solutions. “The thing I’m most proud of is the company I started from scratch in my garage in California,” he says. “Now we supply material to every company in the world that makes a computer chip. I’ve developed 64 patents that control that one segment of the semiconductor manufacturing space.” A Wyoming native, Humphrey grew up in Burns. He currently owns 9H Ranch in Albany County, just north of Laramie, and was looking for a way to give back to his alma mater. Together with co-founders Brendan Reilly and Sophia Corona, they came up with a brilliant idea: Take a 30-acre piece of his ranch and create a solar energy research facility that will donate its energy proceeds to the university while

EDUCATION TO LIGHT Spring/Summer 2021 • 17

also creating research and curriculum opportunities for students and faculty members. “9H Research Foundation is committed to the long-term future success of the University of Wyoming and the Laramie community,” Humphrey says. “Our solar research center will allow students to gain hands-on experience for their future careers. Through our partnership with UW, we will be creating endowed professorships and student scholarships to attract the best minds in the clean energy sphere. This will help position Wyoming as the best university for clean energy, driving jobs and economic growth for the state.” The 9H Research Foundation will donate possibly millions of dollars to UW in the form of clean energy installations and in-kind support services. 9H began the construction of the philanthropic student research facility this spring, which includes a 3-megawatt solar installation powered by First Solar Series 6 modules. “It’s terrific to have alumni like Gene who can not only work with us on cutting-edge technology and on the future of research and energy, but to provide support for programs so that our students can benefit,” says UW President Ed Seidel.

This will help “ position Wyoming

as the best university for clean energy, driving jobs and economic growth for the state. – Gene Humphrey

Clockwise from left: Lucas Morrissette, Alex Jansen, Justin Keller, Rhett Cook, Chase Bancroft, Ben Wimpenny. PHOTO BY ALI GROSSMAN

Industry Partnership The partnership is attracting attention from companies across the United States. First Solar, the largest U.S. solar manufacturer, made a $300,000 in-kind donation to 9H, giving more than 2,000 advanced thin film solar photovoltaic modules totaling nearly 1MW of capacity. “We are thankful to the 9H Research Foundation for the opportunity to lend our support to such an impactful project,” says Adam Smith, director of business development for First Solar. “It is always exciting for us to see our American technology powering American communities, and in this case, also the next generation of American clean tech engineers. The clean energy industry is set to be one of the most important industries globally in the coming decades, with solar energy making up a big portion of it. It is our hope that these modules are the start of an illustrious story for not just the University of Wyoming, but for all Wyomingites.” Already, other industry partners include Creative Energies Solar,

Argonne National Laboratory, Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium, Alt E Wind and Solar, RiskThinking.AI, and Black Bean Capital Partners. In line with Gov. Mark Gordon’s Wyoming Innovation Network (WIN) initiative, the partnership aims to help attract companies by providing them with solar energy, abundant Wyoming natural gas, a skilled workforce and state tax incentives. Hands-on Learning The research facility will also support the creation of a world-class clean energy engineering curriculum at UW. This will include concentrations or specializations for engineering students and possibly certificates in the future. “We have a lot of students who come into CEAS and are interested in renewable energy,” says Dean Cameron Wright. “The 9H energy project is a real, large-scale energy application that they can get in on the ground floor and be a part of.” The partnership between 9H and UW kicked off this past school year

to see that what we’re working on will have an impact. I think this partnership will really put us on the map.”

Gene Humphrey (left), CEO and Co-Founder of the 9H Research Foundation, and Paul Bonifas, Director of Operations at 9H Energy, pose for a photo in front of more than 2,000 solar panels donated by First Solar to the 9H Research Foundation to benefit UW, research, and students. COURTESY PHOTO

with 9H sponsoring a yearlong senior design competition. Thirty-one UW engineering seniors competed in a $5,000 renewable energy design challenge. Two team winners were announced in February at a celebration event hosted by Seidel and attended by the governor. This hands-on learning is key to success as an engineer, Humphrey says. “My advice to engineering students is to do practical projects. Don’t just read about it in a book. Fly your drone. Make a topographical map. Make something and fail. Only after you fail a few times will you truly be successful.” Jumping in to do just that—handson projects—this year’s student teams were from three engineering departments led by instructors Dave Bell from chemical engineering, Jonathan Naughton from mechanical engineering and Jeff Anderson from electrical and computer engineering. The teams were broken into two categories. One set of teams focused on photovoltaic systems, answering the question: What is the optimal design/ planning/location for installation? The

other teams focused on energy storage proposals, answering the question: What energy storage technologies and in what configuration provide the optimal energy storage at the lowest overall cost? A team from each category split the grand prize, but all seven teams were funded to the tune of $15,000 for the spring semester to design and build their solar and energy storage projects out of the new research facility. 9H has also hired two student interns. One of the participating students in the inaugural design competition was Taylor Romshek, a mechanical engineering and energy systems engineering student from Windsor, Colo. “This partnership has really opened my eyes and guided me toward a different career path,” she says. “I’m really excited for 9H and hope to be a part of the future innovation that will come from this. As a student, it’s nice

Cutting-Edge Research “The 9H project represents an amazing opportunity for students and faculty from CEAS to be closely involved in a cutting-edge, large-scale renewable energy installation,” Wright says. “While a typical installation of this size would never have opportunities like this, 9H Research Foundation is willing to adjust the overall design, as it is developed and installed, to better facilitate research, student involvement, and general benefit to the UW and CEAS community. We are very fortunate to have Gene and the 9H team so dedicated to working with the college. There is no other project like this in the world.” Wright says the facility will help recruit students and faculty. Researchers around the world are studying all facets of solar energy, including creating more efficient solar panels and installations, energy storage and power grids. “Some of the world’s leading experts on grid stability are right here in this college,” Wright says. “They’ve been doing modeling for years on how to improve grid stability. So to be able to have this facility right in their back yard is an opportunity we didn’t expect.” Interdisciplinary research is also wide ranging, such as how panels impact the underlying vegetation, animals and migrations, even down to the microbes in the soil. Wright says, “These are things that people have not really looked at yet, but we’ll have an opportunity to do.”


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News & Notes


A University of Wyoming College of Engineering and Applied Science faculty member’s work to improve safety on Interstate 80 and other routes has been recognized by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Mohamed Ahmed, UW’s Williams and Person Professor in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management, along with co-author Omar Raddaoui, received the Transportation Research Board Truck and Bus Safety Committee’s Deborah Freund Paper Award for their study, “Evaluating the Effects of Connected Vehicle Weather and Work Zone Warnings on Truck Drivers’ Workload and Distraction Using Eye Glance Behavior.” “Dr. Ahmed and his team are conducting leading-edge research that directly benefits the state of Wyoming and its citizens. It is a well-deserved award. This is a great example of UW’s commitment to the land-grant mission, and it demonstrates how civil engineers help solve real-world problems and improve the quality of life for people,” says Tony Denzer, head of the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction

Management. “As we all know, highway travel in Wyoming can be dangerous, and I believe Dr. Ahmed and his team are making a real contribution to safety. It’s rewarding to see that work validated and honored at a national level.” “We are very grateful and humbled to start 2021 with such great news,” Ahmed says. “This has been a tough year for everyone, and it is such an honor to see our hard work is paying off.” For the winning study, Ahmed and Raddaoui sought to analyze the workload demands and distraction introduced by spot weather impact warning (SWIW) and work zone warning (WZW) applications— features of new “connected vehicle” technology that allows vehicles to communicate with one another and transportation agencies, providing realtime information regarding weather, road conditions and hazards—on professional truck drivers. Ahmed operates the WyoSafe Simulation and Human Factors Center for Connected and Automated Vehicles, which includes state-of-the-art driving simulator technology. The center has been working on various traffic safety topics to assist the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) and other transportation

agencies in their mission of improving safety and operations of roadways, especially for heavy commercial vehicles. According to the study, driving is primarily a visual task. At least 90 percent of the information consumed as part of the driving task is the product of the streaming of visual information, such as vehicle speed, road geometry, position relative to lane markings, brake lights of nearby vehicles, headway distance and traffic signs, among myriad other elements. “The traffic environment, by its very nature, is a dynamic and continually evolving visual-cognitive construct,” Ahmed says. “As a result, the safe navigation of the traffic environment necessitates continual driver attention to operate the vehicle and scan the roadway for potential hazards.” Using driving simulator experimentation and eye-tracking technology, the researchers determined that weather notifications did not invoke any notable workload or distraction to the participants. Conversely, the WZWs deteriorated the participants’ roadway scanning behavior and brought about prolonged off-road glances and, therefore, could carry adverse safety impacts to drivers in real-life conditions.

“This was largely attributed to the fact that, unlike the weather notifications, the WZW application appeared to have overcommunicated information to the participants during a short-time window and under difficult driving conditions,” Ahmed says. In light of these findings, WYDOT, the leading stakeholder in the study, is reevaluating and amending the design of the WZW application so that message flow rate is reduced, and only necessary information is displayed to minimize the distraction introduced from the application. Ahmed credits his team members, including Sherif Gaweesh, deputy manager of the WyoSafe Simulation and Human Factors Center for Connected and Automated Vehicles, for their work and assistance in various driving simulator studies. The paper was presented at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting, an international conference in the transportation engineering field, in Washington, D.C., last year. Shortly after, the paper was published in the Transportation Research Record (TRR). “The TRR has long been recognized as one of the preeminent, peer-reviewed publications for transportation research papers in the United States and around the world,” Ahmed says. “This recognition means a lot in our research community due to its great competitiveness and overall impact on people’s lives.” Ahmed and Raddaoui received the award virtually at the 2021 Transportation Research Board annual meeting Jan. 12. To learn more about Ahmed’s research, visit his UW faculty webpage or email TO VIEW A VIDEO OF ONE OF THE DRIVING SIMULATOR STUDIES, GO TO BIT.LY/WYOSAFE-SIM

Governor’s Higher Education Initiative Enhances Collaboration Between UW, Community Colleges Gov. Mark Gordon has unveiled a proposal for modernizing and refocusing Wyoming’s higher education system. The initiative, called the Wyoming Innovation Network (WIN), calls for closer collaboration between the University of Wyoming and the state’s community colleges—and an emphasis on developing innovative solutions that will support and enhance Wyoming’s economy and workforce. “Given the challenges facing our state, I’m committed to ensuring that our higher education institutions work together more effectively,” Gordon says. “Together, we are going to develop and deploy innovative solutions that will provide more and better opportunities to our workers, giving them the tools to compete in a rapidly evolving workplace and helping to strengthen Wyoming’s economy.” The WIN initiative will have the state’s higher education institutions collaborate and develop strategic programming in key areas focused on Wyoming’s needs. It includes an emphasis on focusing workforce development on high-potential areas; supporting and training entrepreneurs and new business startups; a research and market analysis agenda aimed at technology transfer and commercialization; and developing outside revenue sources such as corporate partnerships to provide new opportunities for students. UW President Ed Seidel will chair a committee directing the effort that includes higher education leadership from around the state. “Wyoming’s institutions of higher education are excited to take our relationships to a higher level with a focus on helping propel the state’s economy,” Seidel says. “Our discussions have identified some excellent opportunities for collaboration, and we’re committed to pursuing them for the benefit of our students and the people of Wyoming.” WIN is intended to support the state’s overall economic vision set forth by the Wyoming Business Council and support education attainment goals developed by the state. Gordon stresses that this collaborative approach will allow the state to better focus its resources to assist both existing industries and areas identified as having significant growth potential. “Our goal is a unified effort that will help catalyze economic development, strengthen our workforce, support Wyoming businesses and enhance our ability to attract businesses from outside the state,” the governor says. “While they have different and distinct missions, complementary and synergistic efforts are already underway between the community colleges and university,” says Casper College President Darren Divine, representing the presidents of all seven community colleges. “This new effort will enhance Wyoming’s ability to meet the challenges created by our current economic environment.” Work has already begun on the WIN effort. Development is underway for a software engineering program that could ultimately be offered across all community colleges and UW. In addition, tourism and hospitality programs and entrepreneurship training programs for a variety of marketing sectors are under development. Spring/Summer 2021 • 21

News & Notes

ARYANA NAMED UW’S OCCIDENTAL CHAIR IN ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNOLOGIES Saman Aryana is the first Occidental Chair in Energy and Environmental Technologies in the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources (SER). A UW chemical engineering associate professor, Aryana’s research has primarily focused on the fundamental physics of flow instabilities and the dynamics of subsurface displacement processes. Inspired by Occidental’s pursuit of enhanced oil recovery technologies and leading-edge carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) projects, the chair was created to champion a distinguished UW faculty member whose research expertise lies in improving enhanced oil recovery techniques, as well as longterm carbon dioxide storage solutions. Occidental is one of the largest oil producers in the U.S., including a leading producer in the Permian and DJ basins, and offshore Gulf of Mexico. “I am honored and humbled to have been awarded the Occidental Chair in Energy and Environmental Technologies, and I am grateful to Occidental for their generosity and vision,” Aryana says. “I look forward to the opportunities made possible through this endowed chair position to address timely and impactful questions related to CCUS and CO2-enhanced oil recovery, and help establish the University of Wyoming and the state of Wyoming as leaders in CCUS.” He adds that he looks forward to working with students and mentoring the next generation of environmentally prudent engineers and scientists. Throughout his career, Aryana has demonstrated a commitment to excellence in the pursuit of multiscale systems at the nexus of energy, water and the environment— encompassing the intent of the chair. In particular, he has extensively examined macroscale models of flow in porous media and the fundamentals of subsurface flow processes. Many of his research endeavors have explored experimental investigation techniques of flow dynamics in shale oil reservoirs and the application of reservoir management using data analytics. His understanding of subsurface interactions makes him keenly aware of CO2 mitigation technologies and will help him excel in his applied research to provide guidance for the economic success of CCUS projects in Wyoming, says SER Executive Director Holly Krutka. Additionally, Aryana will collaborate with the Occidental Chair in Energy and Environmental Policies—a search for that chairholder has been recently launched. 22 • Foresight

“Professor Aryana is an ideal fit for the Occidental Chair in Energy and Environmental Technologies, given his historic scholarship focused on energy technologies,” says UW Vice Provost for Strategic Planning and Initiatives Anne Alexander. “Under this chair, he will increase knowledge needed to train the next generation of Wyoming energy leaders on novel and emerging technologies.” Krutka says the overarching mission of SER is to develop and deploy expertise necessary to solve critical energy challenges. In pursuit of this mission, SER facilitates the hiring, professional development and retention of internationally competitive faculty at UW. “SER is incredibly grateful to Occidental for working with us to create this chaired position,” she says. “We hope that this chair will further grow UW’s already strong expertise in CCUS and increase collaboration with Occidental as a global leader in the technology. In addition, this chair is a wonderful tool to help us advance SER’s energy-focused economic development mission for the state and support talented faculty like Dr. Aryana.” In an effort to continue growth in energy education and investigation, Aryana has dedicated much of his expertise to students. He has taught courses in macroscale models of flow through permeable media, multicomponent thermodynamics, chemical engineering computing and petroleum economics. In 2019, he was nominated for UW’s Distinguished Graduate Faculty Mentor Award. He currently leads a research team of graduate and doctoral students in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Over the years, he has helped to launch the careers of many UW graduates. Since working at UW, he has been involved in multiple university services and professional activities. He is the founder and president of the Northern Section of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, which covers Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. He also has taken on an administrative role as the UW Department of Chemical Engineering’s graduate program coordinator. Before joining UW’s faculty, Aryana worked as a reservoir engineer for Occidental as part of a reservoir management team, and he served on a business development group for the company. He earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in civil engineering from the University of Texas-Arlington, and his Ph.D. in energy resources engineering from Stanford University.

UW Research Scientist Makes Important Contribution to Use of POD Sampler A University of Wyoming senior research scientist has made important field contributions in the use of the POD sampler, an instrument used to accurately sample pollution levels. Robert Field, in UW’s Department of Atmospheric Science, has collaborated with Pascual Perez Ballesta, the inventor of the POD sampler, on volatile organic compounds (VOCs) measurement methodology validation research since the 1990s. At that time, Field was part of a small team establishing a state-of-the-art national hydrocarbon network in the United Kingdom. Procedures developed by Field remain, to this day, at the core of automated data handling to ensure data quality. The POD sampler is next-generation technology in radial diffusive sampling, a diffusive sampling that has a radial membrane for uptake of pollutants. This increases the surface area and responsiveness to changes in environmental conditions. The POD sampler simply collects pollutants by diffusion and may collect pollutants over a period of hours to months. The time period depends on the situation being examined. “I performed the first field intercomparison in the Upper Green River Basin,” Field says. “I deployed PODs and my canister sampling system. I performed analysis of canisters back in my lab on campus, and that was compared to independent analysis of the POD samplers in Europe. This was one of a few different tests led by the inventor.” The POD sampler can be placed almost anywhere and has been used to measure trace levels of VOCs in Antarctica; to define personal exposure of commuters; and estimate emission profiles from oil and gas extraction activities, Field says. Additionally, the POD sampler is well suited to

From left: Jeffrey Soltis, Matthew Burkhart and Robert Field, all UW senior research scientists with the Wyoming Air Quality Assessment Monitoring Laboratory.

fence-line monitoring and can help government agencies, developers and citizens accurately sample pollution levels. Field also has performed field deployments of the POD samplers in different oil and gas basins in Wyoming and Utah. “In this work, I set the samplers in situations to enable analysis of VOC to determine emission source profiles,” Field explains. “These are used to determine the contribution of different emission sources to ambient air pollution.” This research has really been “a long haul with field work since 2013,” he says. During this time, Field’s efforts were supported by a $5,000 seed grant from UW’s Center for Global Studies; by undergraduate research interns from the UW School of Energy Resources; and by Rachel Edie, a UW doctoral student in atmospheric science. “I have a lot of groups and people in Wyoming to thank for their support,” Field says. “I had to be quite resourceful and piggyback this work onto research activities funded by other agencies, including the Wyoming Bureau of Land Management (BLM).” “The support and expertise of Dr. Field has been critical for the implementation of the POD sampler, and his practical vision and scientific enthusiasm have always served as a collaborative bridge for tackling new projects,” Ballesta says. The sampler will improve the quality of VOC sampling. While the next step is to complete the publication of a new diffusion model to extend the range of the sampler, the current POD sampler is now the cheapest and easiest approach for measuring air toxics, such as benzene, Field says. Field is one of four co-authors of a paper on the subject of the POD sampler, which was published in Analytica Chimica Acta.

News & Notes

ZACHARY LEBO RECEIVES AMERICAN METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY’S EARLY CAREER AWARD No one could blame Zachary Lebo if he has his head in the clouds. Lebo, an associate professor in the University of Wyoming’s Department of Atmospheric Science, was recognized by the American Meteorological Society (AMS) with its Scientific and Technological Activities Commission (STAC) Early Career Award. The honor is for significant contributions to the understanding of and ability to model cloud microphysical processes and the effects of aerosols on clouds, deep convection and precipitation processes. The AMS is the premier scientific and professional organization in the United States that promotes and disseminates information about the atmospheric, oceanic and hydrologic sciences.

24 • Foresight

“I am truly honored to be recognized by my colleagues and peers through this early career award,” Lebo says. “It demonstrates the appreciation for my research by others in the field.” His research has helped bridge the gap between cloud physics—very small-scale processes such as the growth of individual cloud drops or snowflakes—and mesoscale processes— events occurring on the scale of thunderstorms—through the use of high-resolution numerical models and the development of new, detailed cloud microphysics parameterizations. “By bridging these scales and applying new modeling techniques, my research has enabled a deeper understanding of how cloud microphysical processes affect the structure of clouds, in particular, convective clouds like thunderstorms. I also have contributed to the reverse effect, namely the influence of the environment and convection in the Earth’s atmosphere on clouds themselves and the resulting precipitation,” says Lebo, who chairs the STAC’s Committee on Cloud Physics. Lebo joined UW’s Department of Atmospheric Science in fall 2015. His areas of expertise are cloud microphysics and dynamics, mesoscale dynamics and numerical modeling. Besides his research on cloud models, Lebo also has advanced understanding of the aerosol-cloudprecipitation system in the context

of deep convective clouds, and he has suggested new pathways by which cloud microphysical characteristics may change under different aerosol conditions. “A hot topic in the field currently is the effects of changes in aerosols, which are tiny particles all around us that act as nuclei for the condensation of water in the Earth’s atmosphere and on clouds,” he says. “My research has made significant contributions to this topic through uncovering new mechanisms for how aerosols may influence these clouds and quantifying the impact, especially relative to how small changes in the environmental conditions can affect these convective clouds.” Another line of important research Lebo has focused on is the growth and demise of hail, which has received increased attention in recent years, owing to the immense economic losses annually. Through several studies, he and his research team have identified factors that cause storms to produce small accumulating hail versus large hail, as well as the influence of melting hailstones on precipitation and the structure of thunderstorms. Lebo received his Ph.D. in environmental science and engineering from the California Institute of Technology; his master’s degree in meteorology; and bachelor’s degrees in meteorology and mathematics, all from Pennsylvania State University. He conducted postdoctoral work at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The award, a certificate, will be formally presented at the 19th Conference on Mesoscale Processes, which will take place at the 102nd AMS Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas, in January 2022.

Robotics Rehab Gym Strives for Optimal Learning Outcomes with Human Trainees

UW Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Domen Novak (left) and Assistant Professor Chao Jiang prepare the Haptic Master robot, that holds people by the arm, guides them and provides force feedback, for an experiment session. PHOTO BY IMAN CHATTERJEE

By Ron Podell

Domen Novak and Chao Jiang are working to develop and evaluate new artificial intelligence (AI) techniques that allow groups of robots to efficiently teach diverse skills to various groups of human learners. Novak, a University of Wyoming associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, is able to do so, thanks to a $565,169 grant from the National Science Foundation through the NSF’s National Robotics Initiative 2.0 program. Jiang, a UW assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is a co-investigator on the project. The grant began Oct. 1, 2020, and runs through Sept. 30, 2023. While originally envisioned for motor rehabilitation, the “robotic rehabilitation gym” has potential applications in surgery, sports, education and many other areas. Results of the project could be used for other scenarios where humans learn from autonomous agents. For example, online education, monitored by an AI, could include teaching complex skills, such as various sports, group language therapy, group weight loss exercises and group cognitive training to prevent dementia, Novak says. The new artificial intelligence techniques developed by Novak can be broadly divided into techniques that allow an

AI to dynamically assign human learners to robot “coaches” in order to optimize learning outcome over time; techniques that allow robots to estimate humans’ current skill levels based on noisy sensor or motion data; and techniques that allow human experts, such as therapists, to demonstrate appropriate decision-making to robot AIs, as well as benefit from the automated data analysis techniques available to robots. “This is a fundamental science project, and focuses more on AI development, simulation and proof-of-concept evaluation,” Novak says. “Actual patient work is expected to be limited and occur mostly toward the end of the project. That said, the primary target would be stroke survivors, with multiple people exercising in the same room with a limited array of robots.” “I taught a course, titled Haptic Robotics, in fall 2020 that would have offered direct interaction with these robots had it not been for COVID,” Novak says. “I will try to offer it again over the course of the project and provide hands-on experiences there. This material may be included in other courses as well.” The grant supports two graduate students and one undergraduate student, with potential further undergraduate involvement later in the project. Spring/Summer 2021 • 25

THE Innovation Generation UW’s Innovation Wyrkshop Partners with Division of Vocational Rehabilitation on Statewide Makerspace Project

By Milton Ontiveroz Tyler Kerr, the University of Wyoming College of Engineering and Applied Science makerspace coordinator, and his team the past year have proven to be among statewide leaders of 3D-produced personal productive equipment for front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, he and UW’s Innovation Wyrkshop team are collaborating with Wyoming’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) to become champions of providing valuable training to persons with disabilities. New Innovation Wyrkshop mini-makerspaces—aimed at high school students and young adults with disabilities—have been established in five Wyoming communities, thanks to $175,000 from Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) preemployment training funds. According to a 2018 Cornell University disability status report, the employment rate of working-age people with disabilities in Wyoming was 49.9 percent. In contrast, the employment rate of working-age people without disabilities that same year was 83.4 percent.

“There is absolutely no reason there needs to be such a sharp division,” Kerr says. “Makerspaces can help change that and equip young adults with critical workforce and technology skills.” The funds will help people with disabilities learn new skills and will help support the Innovation Wyrkshop’s fiveyear growth strategy, making the facilities and curriculum of the “Maker Access Pass” (MAP) training program more accessible. The MAP program has more than 60 individualized courses across seven facilities and more than 2,400 credentials earned to help students develop marketable skills. “A student can learn how to use equipment in one makerspace and be certified to operate the same type of equipment in all other MAP spaces,” Kerr says. “In effect, the program unlocks access to an entire network of participating MAP makerspaces—all for free.” Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) Director Robin Sessions Cooley notes the partnership between UW and DWS will create much-needed opportunities.

Pharmacy student Victoria Evans changes filaments on Ultimaker printers in the Engineering Education Research Building’s Innovation Wyrkshop.

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Tyler Kerr, College of Engineering and Applied Science makerspace coordinator, explains the Maker Access Program (MAP) to UW President Ed Seidel and Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon.

“Since I started at DWS, it has been one of my goals to continue to foster the UW-DWS partnership, and I’m thrilled with this particular effort,” Cooley says. “The university has provided a tremendous resource with these Innovation Wyrkshop mini-makerspaces, and we are excited to take part in such a creative endeavor.” Nicky Harper, the DVR administrator, said at the time funds were awarded, that the partnership with UW presents an opportunity to provide youth with barriers to employment exciting ways to train for high-paying, in-demand jobs. “Our goal with these funds—and this partnership with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation—is to show that anyone can be a maker,” Kerr says. “Whether or not someone has a visual or hearing impairment, motor or cognitive impairments—or if someone does not have a disability— should not play a role in their access to these resources.” The five Innovation Wyrkshop and Division of Vocational Rehabilitation statewide satellite makerspaces project will be in operation later this spring. Locations are: • Casper: “Creation Station: An Innovation Wyrkshop,” located in the Natrona County Library, will be coordinated by Conrrado Saldivar. • Cheyenne: “Golden Eagle Wyrkshop,” located in Laramie County Community College’s Ludden Library, and run by Linda Herget and Morgan Koenig. • Evanston: “Evanston Innovation Wyrkshop,” located in the Evanston BOCES building and coordinated by Jared Lundholm. • Pinedale: “The Pinedale Wyrkshop,” located in the Pinedale BOCES building, and run by Micah Parrish and Richard Ramsey. • Rock Springs: “Western Wyrkshop,” located at Western Wyoming Community College, coordinated by Carlton Dewick and Kasey Damori Kerr estimates that each of the five mini-makerspaces 28 • Foresight

will serve between 20-30 PreETS (pre-employment transition services) young adults. He hopes that each of the communities’ makerspaces will serve anywhere from 20-100 people per day. “These are intended to be spaces for everyone to use,” he says. “Anyone, from students, staff, faculty, community members, researchers, entrepreneurs, grandparents, greatgrandparents, can use the makerspace,” Kerr says. He adds that the staff and makerspace ambassadors will teach participants how to use any piece of equipment of interest. “The possibilities are endless,” Kerr says. “What you create from there is limited only by your imagination.” The grade levels for the PreETS—the group of young adults Kerr and his team will work with—are high school age; and range from 14-21 years old. All PreETS students are eligible to apply for work at any of the makerspaces, Kerr says. As many as three PreETS students in each space will be hired to serve as makerspace ambassadors. These makerspace ambassadors will be tasked with teaching workshops, helping other makers, showing projects they are working on and, ultimately, helping highlight the technology and the ways it can be used. The spaces will provide employment opportunities to learn and sharpen workforce readiness skills, while also forging strong connections with other creative makers in their area, Kerr says. “Our goals are in line with the Wyoming Employment First Initiative and its inclusive, exploratory, person-first language, which has effectively shifted the approach to employment opportunities for these youth with disabilities in a critical way,” he adds. “We’ve learned from our DVR partners that rather than asking ‘Do you want to work?’ the conversation should really be ‘Where do you want to work?’ Similarly, rather than ask ‘Can you work?’ the young adults should be asked ‘What are you good at? What are you most passionate about?’ and be allowed to explore those passions. At the end of the day, everyone deserves the same opportunities to build, create and innovate freely.”

News & Notes

UW Construction Management Program Offers Two New Scholarships The University of Wyoming Construction Management Program is now offering its first two scholarships. The first is the Joseph and Patricia Grabowski Scholarship in Construction Management, established by Joe, a 1982 UW alumnus, and Patty Grabowski. The second, the Marcy Civil and Architectural Engineering Excellence Fund, was established by Dewey Marcy, a friend of UW and the personal representative for the Samuel J. Marcy Estate. “These are the first two program scholarships dedicated to the new Construction Management Program at UW,” says Francois Jacobs, a UW associate professor of civil and architectural engineering in the Construction Management Program. “Students in the program will be eligible to receive the scholarships to help support their construction management academic journey at UW.” The Grabowskis made a total gift commitment of $25,000 to establish a nonendowed scholarship. The purpose of this nonendowed scholarship is to recruit and retain well-rounded individuals who are residents of the United States and who are enrolled in UW’s Construction Management Program. To be eligible for the scholarship, students must demonstrate strong academic achievement, with a minimum 3.0 overall grade-point average (GPA), which could include a combination of UW and transfer GPAs. Recipients also must be positive representatives for the Construction Management Program. One or more recipients will be selected annually, with yearly amounts of $2,500 awarded. “It has been an honor and privilege for Patty and me to support the development of the new Engineering Education and Research Building and, now, to continue that support through establishing a new scholarship program for construction management students,” Joe Grabowski says. “Over 40 years ago, UW placed a bet on a long-haired kid and awarded a full scholarship to get my master’s degree. “We are forever grateful to UW and the state of Wyoming, and remain humbled for the endless opportunities that provided us throughout our lives and careers,” Grabowski continues. “Patty and I have been

truly blessed as a result of UW’s generosity 40 years ago and, now, we are placing our own bet on the next generation of UW students.” Sam Marcy’s estate made a total gift commitment of $170,000 to establish an endowed excellence fund. Appropriations for expenditure from the fund will be used to foster excellence and provide financial support to the UW Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management. The fund may support student scholarships in areas such as the Construction Management Program. Because this is an excellence fund that can support both the department and scholarships, there is no set annual scholarship award. Rather, it will be at the discretion of the department to use the funds strategically, says Teddi Freedman, a director of development for the UW Foundation. “As executor of my brother, Sam Marcy’s estate, I had the opportunity to talk with Sam about possible choices for the charitable donation portion of his estate,” Dewey Marcy explains. “Sam was agreeable to giving a gift to the University of Wyoming Department of Civil Engineering.” Sam Marcy received a Ph.D. in civil engineering, was a Wyoming resident, and took the time to visit UW’s civil engineering department, Dewey Marcy says. “Sam was always interested in what the students were doing, and became actively involved by suggesting several possible senior design projects,” Dewey Marcy says. “One suggestion was to synchronize binoculars so that one person could help another to find a point of interest. The University of Wyoming patented this suggestion and received a patent, which has Sam’s name on it as co-inventor.” How to eliminate piles of tumbleweeds that accumulate against snow fences along the highways was another project suggested by Sam Marcy. “Our family is pleased to see that the civil engineering department at the University of Wyoming will have this gift from Sam’s estate to help with their continuing work with civil engineering students,” Dewey Marcy says. To learn more about UW’s Construction Management Program, visit

Spring/Summer 2021 • 29


The Sky’s the Limit Senior mechanical engineer Alice MacVey (BSAR ’07), U.S. Air Force nominee for the 2020 National Society of Professional Engineers Federal Engineer of the Year Award and a Laramie native, recently shared with us her insights on defying expectations and how she hopes more will “go for it” in chasing their engineering passions. Q: You studied civil engineering at the University of Wyoming. What piqued your interest in engineering? Can you describe the moment you realized this was a field you’d like to pursue? My interest in engineering started in high school, where I excelled in math and computer-aided design and hand-drafting courses. I always enjoyed problem solving, like the kind that went into bringing Apollo 13 home after the 1970 NASA mission was aborted due to an oxygen tank rupture, and I marveled at the ingenuity that went into constructing structures. Once I was at the University of Wyoming, my interest was fully piqued in my transport phenomena class. Discovering that heat transfer through different mediums of different shapes made sense to me and made me realize that I’d found my niche. After that, there was no turning back!

Q: Describe your job as an engineer in the 90th Civil Engineer Squadron in the Air Force. What does an Air Force engineer do? What does an average day look like for you?

30 • Foresight

Q: Engineering is known as a particularly demanding major. What was the most challenging part of your college experience? Did you ever experience any uncertainty that this was the path for you? As a student, not all of my class topics came easy to me, and I had to work hard to pass my classes. I definitely struggled to keep my goals in sight and trust that engineering was the major for me. Thankfully, I had wonderful peers (and sorority sisters) who reminded me that one challenging class should not defeat my goals and that if I just kept pushing, I would be better for it. Q: Tell us about your first job. What did you learn there that you couldn’t have learned in the classroom? There are always so many things that are hard to learn when transitioning to a new job—especially the first one straight out of college. My biggest learning curve came with how much writing I actually do as an engineer. There is always a proposal due to earn additional work or reports to be written based on findings once a study has been completed. Had I known that I’d spend just as much time writing proposals and reports as I did performing engineering calculations, I would have spent more time on English classes!

The best part about my job is the variety. My primary job is project management, as I am responsible for drafting requests for construction work to be completed on base, which can range from replacing a $10,000 HVAC unit up to a $5 million project for new construction. I also act as the “owner’s representative” in large-scale military construction projects and assist the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in ensuring that the final product of these large construction projects meets our intent for the project. Lastly, I get to work with every squadron on base to help them solve problems, whether it’s helping them utilize their space more effectively or providing engineering expertise on renovations, outside grading work, or simply grabbing a few tools and solving the problem hands-on.

Alice MacVey and husband Eric MacVey at the summit of Medicine Bow Peak.

Q: What is it like to be a woman in engineering? Do you feel that your gender gives you a different perspective and experience from your male counterparts? Any advantages? There are times that being a woman in engineering has been challenging. Comments such as “I didn’t expect you to know so much about this project” are discouraging, but fortunately the military and civilians here on base are much more equal. Q: What advice do you have for women interested in engineering? What kinds of practical experience should they have? What technical skills should they pick up? My advice: Go for it! No matter what engineering you are interested in, if you’re passionate about it, then it’s worth pursuing. No one should tell you otherwise. Sometimes that means proving them wrong, but isn’t that even more fun? As far as practical experience, I highly recommend making sure you’re comfortable on a construction site, how it is run, the rules and what the expectations are of you when inspecting a site. The last thing any engineer needs is to look uncomfortable and incompetent on a site. Get familiar with power tools, a tape measure, and don’t be afraid to get dirty and a little scuffed up. Most importantly, LISTEN to the contractors. Their hands-on expertise is extremely valuable when you’re first starting out, and that expertise can sometimes bridge the gap between designs on paper and application in the field.

Q: Many people imagine engineers sitting at a desk, crunching numbers all day. What are the biggest misconceptions people have about your job? I’m pretty sure I only spend about 5 percent of my time crunching numbers…otherwise I’m up and about in the field! While engineers’ responsibilities can obviously differ, I spend a lot of time on my project sites working with other civilians and military personnel to collaborate and solve problems. I think the biggest misconception about engineers is that we’re all introverts who work on our own projects, but it’s quite the opposite. There’s a lot of teamwork and collaboration that’s required to keep F.E. Warren Air Force Base running.

Q: How did you feel when you heard you had been recognized as the Air Force nominee for the 2020 National Society of Professional Engineers Federal Engineer of the Year Award? What are your biggest takeaways from this experience? I was completely speechless! Having CE Squadron leadership walk in to tell me absolutely blew me away. My boss had been sneaky about nominating me, so I didn’t expect it at all! After seeing my name listed with all of the other nominees, I was simply honored to even be included in that list. So many of the engineers listed have done such amazing things, and I was proud to represent F.E. Warren Air Force Base and the 90th Civil Engineer Squadron as a nominee. Q: Finally, what do you wake up looking forward to? What’s next for your career? For my career, I wake up looking forward to all of the development that F.E. Warren Air Force Base is going to see in the next few years. It’s an exciting time to be working here, and it’s been fun to watch the future of missiles start right here in Wyoming. As far as what’s next for me? I’m happy supporting F.E. Warren Air Force Base’s mission and, if the opportunity presents itself, step up into the next level of supervision and engineering management on base. Spring/Summer 2021 • 31

Alumni in Memoriam

Since our last issue, we regret to announce the passing of the following alumni. Our greatest sympathy is extended to the families of these valued friends.

Leonard Baldwin Professor Emeritus of CE – Laramie, WY

Ronald Reed ME ’61 – Tacoma, WA

Richard Henderson AR ’55 – Cody, WY

Don Smith Professor Emeritus of ME – Laramie, WY

Phillip Hirst CE ’38 – Mesa, AZ

Gayle Sturdevant EE ’60 – Spring, TX

Riney Lind ME ’62 – Rapid City, SD

Barton Varney ME ’77 – Meza, AZ

Albert “Boots” Nelson CE ’59 – Jackson, WY

Gerald Wegner EE ’65 – Billings, MT

The Engineering Career Services Team helped me achieve my goal of obtaining my first chemical internship by reviewing my résumé and helping me craft a cover letter to impress my employer. Through preparation and encouragement to be myself, I felt confident and ready when I interviewed for the job.”



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RECOGNIZING OUR RECENTLY PROMOTED FACULTY Dilpuneet Aidhy Department of Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor

Lamia Goual Department of Petroleum Engineering Professor

Anthony Denzer Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management Professor

Patrick Johnson Department of Chemical Engineering Professor

Jeffrey French Department of Atmospheric Science Associate Professor

Zachary Lebo Department of Atmospheric Science Associate Professor Pejman Tahmasebi Department of Petroleum Engineering Associate Professor