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BENJAMIN M. STATLER COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING AND MINERAL RESOURCES

VOLUME 12 ISSUE 2

THE CHANGING FACE OF BIOMETRICS

FALL 2016


DEAN’S MESSAGE

Usually, when we talk about winning at West Virginia University it’s in relation to one of our many successful sports teams. TABLE OF CONTENTS But in recent years, the term has become part of the vocabulary at the Statler College—and this year is no different. We had many successes over the past academic year. Our newest undergraduate major, biomedical engineering, had its first winner of a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship in Ryan Mezan. Our American Society of Civil Engineers team won the steel bridge competition at the Virginias Conference in Washington, D.C. V’yacheslav Akkerman, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, won a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation for his work on promotion and prevention of flame acceleration and transition to detonation. And our firstever entry in Drillbotics, an international drilling competition that challenges students to create a miniature robotic drilling rig in a laboratory environment, resulted in a first-place finish, which earned the team a trip to Dubai for the Society of Petroleum Engineers annual conference. Many would consider that a hall-of-fame year, and some might even choose to rest on their laurels. But that is not the Mountaineer spirit!

PHOTO BRIAN PERSINGER

CILENTO

In late May, two doctoral students, Jared Strader and Alixandra Wagner, were awarded University Provost Fellowships, while Praveen Majjigapu was awarded WVU’s Outstanding Merit Fellowship for Continuing Doctoral Students. The awards, which provide a University tuition waiver, College tuition scholarship, stipend and health insurance, ensure that the best and brightest will advance their research in the Statler College. In July, a team of researchers from WVU’s Constructed Facilities Center won an Engineers Innovation of the Year Award from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for their work on composite components for locks and dam systems. The team—Hota GangaRao, P.V. Vijay and Mark Skidmore— worked with USACE to design, test and install reinforced plastic wicket gates at the Peoria Lock and Dam on the Illinois River.

Normally, in the fall issue of EWV, we include our annual report and Honor Roll of Donors. But there was so much great news to share that the cost of producing such a large print publication became prohibitive. In an attempt to be good stewards of your financial support, we’ve made the decision to put the complete annual report online in an electronic edition. You will find the link featured prominently at statler.wvu.edu.

In August, WVU and the College took center stage at the Summer Olympics when Ginny Thrasher, a sophomore majoring in biomedical engineering, won the first gold medal awarded at the 2016 games, representing the U.S. in the 10m air rifle competition. A few short days later, Nicco Campriani, who graduated from the College in 2011 with a degree in industrial engineering, added two more golds to the gold and silver he won in 2012, taking top honors for his native country of Italy in the 10m air rifle and 50m rifle three position competitions. But the biggest win—and I mean BIG—came in September, when the team from the Statler College became the only winner in NASA’s Centennial Challenges, taking home first place for the third-straight year and winning $750,000 in the process. To say we couldn’t do what we do without your support would be an understatement! Whether it’s through a financial contribution or through the countless emails and social media comments we received, trust that none of it is taken for granted or goes unnoticed. We salute you, our “12th (wo)man,” and thank you for being part of our team.

Eugene V. Cilento Glen H. Hiner Dean and Professor ENGINEERING

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ON THE COVER: 3-D face image generated from biometrics collection conducted by the research group led by Associate Professor Jeremy Dawson.

4 Civil engineering researchers win innovation awards

DRILLBOTICS FIRST PLACE

15 Engineers without Borders completes service in Randolf County

STEEL BRIDGE WINNERS GOLDWATER SCHOLAR ENGINEERS INNOVATION OF THE YEAR AWARD

Insert WINNERS: Determined students are first, and now only, winners of NASA robot competition

NSF CAREER AWARD WINNER

PROVOST FELLOWSHIPS

20 COVER STORY: The changing face of biometrics 30 Department Academies

MERIT FELLOWSHIP

NASA CENTENNIAL CHALLENGE WINNERS

34 Statler College and WVU Alumni Association receive major donation Dean / Eugene V. Cilento gene.cilento@mail.wvu.edu / 304.293.4157

OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST

Director, Marketing and Communications Mary C. Dillon / mary.dillon@mail.wvu.edu Design Coordinator, Marketing and Communications J. Paige Nesbit Contributing Writers / Chelsea Betts / Allyson Cannon / Bernadette Dombrowski / Heather Richardson Photography / Greg Ellis / J. Paige Nesbit / Brian Persinger / Myles Regan / General Motors

OLYMPIC 4-TIME MEDALIST

Address West Virginia University / Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources / PO Box 6070 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6070 statler.wvu.edu Change of Address WVU Foundation / PO Box 1650 Morgantown, WV 26504-1650 Fax: 304.284.4001 / e-mail: info@wvuf.org mountaineerconnection.com

IN EVERY ISSUE / DEAN’S MESSAGE / RESEARCH NEWS / COLLEGE NEWS / STUDENT NEWS / ALUMNI NEWS / SUPPORT / IN MEMORIAM

Engineering West Virginia is published twice each year, in spring and fall, for the alumni, friends and other supporters of the WVU Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

Copyright ©2016 by the WVU Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. Brief excerpts of articles in this publication may be reprinted without a request for permission if EngineeringWV is acknowledged in print as the source. Contact the director for permission to reprint entire articles.

The WVU Board of Governors is the governing body of WVU. The Higher Education Policy Commission in West Virginia is responsible for developing, establishing and overseeing the implementation of a public policy agenda for the state’s four-year colleges and universities.

West Virginia University is an Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action Institution.

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CIVIL ENGINEERING RESEARCHERS WIN INNOVATION AWARDS BY BERNADETTE DOMBROWSKI

GANGARAO

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VIJAY


Three civil engineering researchers from WVU are part of a team awarded the 2016 United States Army Corps of Engineers Innovation of the Year Award for their research on composite components for locks and dam systems. Hota GangaRao, P.V. Vijay and Mark Skidmore from WVU’s Constructed Facilities Center worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in Champaign, Illinois, to design, test and implement glass-fiber reinforced plastic wicket gates at the Peoria Lock and Dam on the Illinois River at Creve Coeur, Illinois. Wicket gates help maintain a navigational pool in the river by resting on the bottom of the river. They are raised when the water gets too low. “We’re excited to have won this award because of the immense amount of research and development incorporated in the wicket gates to make it a great success,” said GangaRao. “Many of our faculty and graduate students worked diligently to make a good end product in an economical manner. This is fitting recognition for all our dedicated folks that worked toward the singular goal of advancing the state-of-the-art technology.” The use of GFRP in navigational structures is a new concept, but an important one. Ninety-five percent of the dams managed by the USACE are more than 30 years old, and 52 percent have reached or exceed the 50-year service lives for which they were designed. It would cost approximately $24 billion to fix all the dams that need repairs. “This project marks the first implementation of GFRP-based products for navigational structures in the United States,” says GangaRao. “We’re proving that it’s the ideal material for these projects because it’s corrosion-resistant, which lowers maintenance costs, and could also prove to have lower initial cost than existing materials.” Current structures use a mix of large timber, a product much more difficult to obtain than it was 50 years ago, welded steel I-beams, angles and plates. These materials make the product extremely heavy to lift and susceptible to corrosion. The GFRP components, manufactured by Composites Advantage Inc., were installed in August 2015 on the Illinois River. The anticipated cost savings for the two locations is nearly $19 million over a 50-year lifetime. With approximately 87,000 dams listed in the National Inventory of Dams, GangaRao hopes this project is just the beginning of GFRP’s use in navigational structures. “Our research and development work, and the consequent field implementations, for a variety of infrastructure systems, are getting national recognition, but we are just scratching the surface” said GangaRao. “Our nation will soon start spending millions of dollars to upgrade infrastructure systems, and we have the ability to step in and greatly reduce that total cost.” This is the second time GangaRao and his team have won a USACE Innovation of the Year Award for its work in composites, having won in 2014 for their work on a Huntington-area bridge.

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WVU AWARDED USDA GRANT TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES

WIRELESS SENSORS TO DETECT BREACHES IN STORM WATER CATCH SYSTEMS

West Virginia University’s Industrial Assessment Center has received a United States Department of Agriculture Grant to help rural business and farm owners reduce energy consumption and increase profit margins. The effort, made possible through the USDA’s Rural Energy for America program, which helps farms and small businesses right-size their energy systems and helps with the installation costs for renewable energy equipment, will be led by Ashish Nimbarte and Bhaskaran Gopalakrishnan, assistant director and director of the IAC, respectively.

NIMBARTE

“Small, rural business is America’s economic heart,” said Gopalakrishnan. “Finding ways to reduce their operating cost through energy efficiency is paramount to increasing their competitiveness, which will result in job and economy growth in West Virginia.”

The Industrial Assessment Center, housed within WVU’s Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, will use the $100,000 grant to provide 50 businesses with complete energy audits to GOPALAKRISHNAN identify ways they can save energy, reduce waste and improve productivity. Once the audit is complete, the businesses can

then apply for USDA REAP Energy Efficiency Improvement Grants, which cover up to 25 percent of the cost of energy efficient lighting, equipment upgrades and building improvements.

When it rains, it pours, and sometimes the overflow from such storms contains pollutants that have a significant impact on water quality. A researcher from West Virginia University is working to create a wireless sensor network to detect when such systems reach capacity and are in danger of breaching their containment walls.

According to Nimbarte, audits will begin in late August and run through May 2018. “Small businesses, including agricultural producers and farms, employ a significant portion of the West Virginia’s private workforce,” said Nimbarte. “This USDA project is expected to result in energy savings and reduction in environmental emissions, significantly impacting the bottom line and future growth of these businesses.” Project partners include the West Virginia Division of Energy, Natural Capital Investment Fund, Downstream Strategies, LLC and the West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection. The Industrial Assessment Center at WVU is one of 24 centers around the country funded by the United States Department of Energy to provide no-cost energy assessments to small and mid-sized manufacturers.

Vinod Kulathumani, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering, is working with researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory on the creation of a wireless multi-hop mesh networking algorithm that supports a storm water catching system. “When sensor nodes are geographically dispersed to monitor a large area, the radio signals are not strong enough to reach the base station directly—or in one hop—because this would require a powerful signal transmission that would likely drain the batteries too soon,” Kulathumani said. “So the sensors communicate through other sensors—a multi-hop—that act as intermediate relays to forward the data to the base station.” KULATHUMANI

The challenge, Kulathumani said, is to self-configure the routes from all sensors to the base station and design data transport protocols that are very efficient in transferring the data. “It is not desirable to spend a lot of communication in forming the routes themselves, so the route forming has to be efficient. At the same time, all the data needs to be collected reliably.” Kulathumani said that while the project focuses on storm water overflow detection, such multi-hop wireless sensor networks could have applications in environmental monitoring, monitoring of industrial control systems and perimeter surveillance. His work on the project is expected to be completed by December 2016. WV ENGINEERING WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY

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WVU, GE PARTNER ON PROJECT TO INCREASE PERFORMANCE OF SOLID OXIDE FUEL CELLS

WVU MAKING PROGRESS IN MINE SAFETY RESEARCH

Researchers at West Virginia University will partner with GE on a project designed to increase the performance of solid oxide fuel cells.

“Although numerous technological advances have been made, injuries persist in surface mining operations due to equipment size, mine topography and operational complexity,” said Vladislav Kecojevic, professor of mining engineering. “Our research is progressively addressing this issue.”

Edward Sabolsky and Xingbo Liu, from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and John Zondlo, from the Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, will partner with researchers at GE Global Research and GE Fuel Cells, LLC, on the project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

SABOLSKY

SOFCs are an efficient, environmentally friendly way to convert chemical energy from fuel, i.e., hydrogen, coal syngas or natural gas, to electrical energy. The ceramic metal composites that are used to create the anode material, however, can become unstable due to sulfur contamination and oxidation. According to Sabolsky, GE currently uses a plasma spray technology to make their solid-oxide fuel cells.

LIU

“The technology is like a spray gun that melts the ceramic particles at the end of the gun as the particles pass through a super-hot nozzle,” Sabolsky said. “The liquid ceramic hits a porous metal substrate and solidifies. They are able to change the composition over time to build all the layers of the fuel cell.” The team at WVU will be working to investigate new ceramic materials that would be potentially cheaper, healthier and more stable over long-term use.

“The efficiency of SOFCs is greater than just burning the gas; there are also less emissions,” Sabolsky said. “Currently, the availability of these SOFC ZONDLO systems is limited, with only a few manufacturers worldwide. If we can successfully create an alternative to the materials used in the process, we can improve reliability and reduce maintenance costs and downtime. These systems would then become more economical and more robust.” Sabolsky has spent a large portion of his career researching advanced ceramic processing and materials for energy-related applications. Prior to joining the faculty at WVU, he managed the solid oxide fuel cell research group at Nexceris, LLC, formerly NexTech Materials, Ltd., in Columbus, Ohio. Liu, an innovator in energy storage research, directs WVU’s Center for Electrochemical Energy Systems, which is comprised of an interdisciplinary team of researchers charged with creating technology-to-market strategies for advancing electric storage technologies. Zondlo specializes in the development of clean coal technology and has been researching ways in which it can be used in SOFCs. He has partnered with Sabolsky on the creation of new SOFC compositions that are resistant to contamination.

A trio of interdisciplinary researchers at West Virginia University are making headway in the battle against surface mining industry injuries and fatalities.

Over the past three years, Kecojevic, Vinod Kulathumani, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering, and Ashish Nimbarte, assistant professor of industrial and management systems engineering, have designed and developed a two-part integrated sensing and communication system that helps prevent accidents due to equipment collisions and drive fatigue and distraction. Joining on the project are computer science graduate students Ajay Kavuri, Shashank Sabniveesu, Rahul Kavi, R. Rohit and Masahiro Nakagawa, and mining engineering graduate student Prakash Bishleshan. The first part of the system is a proximity-warning function that uses lowpower radio waves to alert machinery operators to workers and vehicles less than 10 meters away. The system does not have line of sight restrictions or blind spots, unlike ultrasonic sensors and cameras. A global positioning system integrated with Wi-Fi radios in ad-hoc mode was also designed to give warning about vehicles approaching from distances over 10 meters. The system uses a combination of infrared cameras, accelerometers and wearable electroencephalogram sensors to detect the onset of behaviors associated with fatigue. Any deviation in driver characteristics, like a change in blinking patterns or variations in EEG data, can be used to trigger fatigue alert. The research team also developed MapMyTruck, a cloud-based logging framework to collect long-term data from GPS and other sensors that can record and analyze near-miss data. The system has been tested at the Red Hills Mine in Ackerman, Mississippi, and Liberty Fuels Mine in DeKalb, Mississippi, with positive results. “We’ve found that the system functions correctly and does have the ability to make a substantial difference in the safety of surface mine workers,” said Kecojevic. “Now, these test mines will continue using these systems so we can obtain long-term data to gage the effectiveness and reliability of the system.” The next phase focuses on the development of techniques to quantify the distraction posed by surface mining equipment consoles and the drowsiness experienced by drivers, and use that data to assess and mitigate the risk of injuries in surface mine operations. “The outcomes of the next phase of our research are expected to help both understand the risks and design corrective actions to address them,” said Kecojevic. “They can also be used to help develop personalized work shifts for drivers and to design better response strategies upon detection of drowsiness. In contrast to subjective assessments of comfort levels with onboard consoles, the outcomes of driver distraction analysis will provide quantitative insight into shortcomings of console placement and design.” The research is funded by a $742,000 award made by the Alpha Foundation for the Improvement of Mine Safety and Health. WVU STATLER COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING AND MINERAL RESOURCES

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Kakan Dey

Assistant Professor Civil and Environmental Engineering Education: Ph.D., Clemson University, 2014 M.S., Wayne State University, 2010 B.S., Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, 2005

V. Dimitra Pyrialakou

Assistant Professor Civil and Environmental Engineering

Teaching Interests: intelligent transportation systems, urban transportation planning, applications of traffic engineering Research Interests: intelligent transportation systems, connected and autonomous vehicle technology, data analytics for connected transportation systems, artificial intelligence for connected vehicle applications, smart cities, cyber-physical systems, heterogeneous wireless networks, sustainability and resiliency in transportation, traffic safety, multiobjective policy analysis, risk analysis, traffic simulation

Education: Ph.D., Purdue University, 2016 B.S., National Technical University of Athens, Greece, 2011 Teaching Interests: highway engineering, traffic analysis, transportation-related issues Research Interests: public transportation, infrastructure and sustainability, high-speed rail network, transportation planning

Ming Gu

Assistant Professor Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering Education: Ph.D., University of Texas, 2013 M.S., Tsinghua University, China, 2009 B.S., Tsinghua University, 2007 Teaching Interests: horizontal well technology, advance production engineering, reservoir stimulation, reservoir engineering Research Interests: unconventional reservoir development, hydraulic fracturing modeling, reservoir simulation, rock mechanics, lab experimental system design and construction (fluid rheology test system and API proppant conductivity system)

Teaching Interests: numerical methods in engineering, stochastic dynamics and random processes, statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, solid and engineering mechanics

Education: Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2008 M.S., University of Illinois, 2005 B.S., National University of Athens, Greece, 2003

Research Interests: theory and application of statistical methods toward the theoretical, computational modeling of mechanical behavior of materials

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Education: Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1996 M.S., University of Akron, 1991 M.S., Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, 1986 B.S., Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 1982

Research Interests: energy conversion and energy efficiency, concentrated solar energy, renewable energy, cryogenic cooling

Assistant Professor Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

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Professor Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Teaching Interests: engineering analysis, dynamic systems, mechatronics, thermal system design, heat transfer, mathematics

Stefanos Papanikolaou

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WATTS MUSEUM’S TRAVELING EXHIBITS PROGRAM TAKES HISTORY ON THE ROAD

With the help of a grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council, West Virginia University’s Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum has launched a statewide traveling exhibits program. The program will enable the Watts Museum to circulate high-quality and informative exhibits and educational resources to various museums, libraries, historical societies and similar institutions across West Virginia. Through its traveling exhibits program, the Watts Museum hopes to stimulate West Virginians’ awareness, enthusiasm and appreciation for their local history and reach audiences that otherwise would not have access to the museum’s exhibits.

“We have had a tremendous response to the traveling exhibits program from our fellow cultural institutions in West Virginia,” said Curator Danielle Petrak. “All of the Watts Museum’s traveling exhibits have been booked for the 2016 season, and we are working on scheduling exhibits for 2017. We are very grateful to the West Virginia Humanities Council for their support of this program.” The Watts Museum is traveling four different exhibits in 2016 on topics pertaining to the social, cultural and technological history of West Virginia industry. Additional exhibits will be made available for travel each year. There is no exhibit fee to host a traveling exhibit at a nonprofit institution in West Virginia, but borrowing organizations are responsible for the travel costs associated with the setup and removal of the exhibits. Housed in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, the Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum is dedicated to preserving and promoting the social, cultural and technological history of the coal, oil and natural gas industries of the state of West Virginia through the collection, preservation, research and exhibition of objects relevant to these industries. For more information, please contact the museum at 304-293-4609 or wattsmuseum@mail.wvu.edu.

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STATLER COLLEGE COMMENCEMENT 2016

College News of Note

PHOTOS M.G. ELLIS

Jacky Prucz, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, has been reappointed to his administrative post as chair of the department for a fiveyear period, effective July 1, 2016.

Ronald Eck, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering, was presented with the National Program Achievement Award by the National Local Technical Assistance Program Association. The award is presented to an individual in recognition of their dedication, leadership and effectiveness in promoting the goals and purposes of the national Local and Tribal Technical Assistance Programs.

Jon Hammock, president, CEO and founder of KeyLogic Systems, Inc. served as the speaker at the Statler College’s Commencement Ceremony, held May 14, at the WVU Coliseum. Using analogies tied to numbers, Hammock, who earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the College, said that being outside of one’s comfort zone is a good place to be. “You should spend about 50 percent of your time outside of your comfort zone. I take pride in the fact that I’ve spent a great deal time outside of mine,” Hammock said. “A couple of these moments were the day I started WVU and the day I left. What was ahead was uncertain, but truly game changing. The stress of starting KeyLogic 17 years ago ... I can tell you that I’m still not fully in my comfort zone, but it was a change and a challenge well worth taking.” He also noted that the average millennial will have between “15-20 jobs throughout their career” and 67 percent have goals that involve starting their own businesses, while 13 percent hope to climb the corporate ladder. “My advice to you is to strike a balance and get the corporate experience, and if or when you start your own business, you have a base knowledge to help shape where you want to go.” The most important numbers came at the end of Hammock’s speech.

Royce J. Watts, associate dean for administration, was selected as a 2016 West Virginia History Hero. Watts was honored during a History Day program and ceremony held at the Culture Center in Charleston. West Virginia History Heroes are chosen for their dedicated service on behalf of an organization’s programs or for significant contributions to state and local history.

“2016: you will always be the class of 2016. You will always have a connection to WVU, the Mountaineers and Morgantown. Carry that with pride. Go do great things and make the world a better place. Never lose sight of helping others. Be an active participant in life and community. And come back to campus to talk to students and donate to your alma mater. “100 percent: The probability your family, friends and professors are proud of your great accomplishment. Be sure to hug and thank them. “One: you have one life, one career, one family. Be thoughtful, deliberate and make it count. If something isn’t right, change it. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.”

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WA G N E R MAJJIGAPU

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TRIO EARN PROVOST FELLOWSHIPS BY BERNADETTE DOMBROWSKI PHOTOS J. PAIGE NESBIT

Three engineering students have received prestigious University Fellowships. Jared Strader and Alixandra Wagner were awarded three- and one-year University Provost Fellowships, respectively. Praveen Majjigapu was awarded WVU’s Outstanding Merit Fellowship for Continuing Doctoral Students. The fellowships provide a University tuition waiver, College tuition scholarship, stipend and health insurance. Strader holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from WVU and mathematics from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, respectively.

This research will help government and industry better understand the effects of these nanoclays on the health of manufacturers, consumers and the environment during disposal.

“I’m really thankful to have received this fellowship,” said Strader, a Clarksburg native. “There are many students doing fantastic research and making great discoveries at WVU, so it’s really rewarding to be picked from among them for this honor.”

“I am very grateful to have received this fellowship so I can continue my research and education, helping me become a better researcher and contributor to my community” said Wagner, a Morgantown native.

Strader works with Yu Gu, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, in Gu’s Interactive Robotics Laboratory. His master’s research focused on software for autonomous navigation and computer vision for object recognition, which was especially important for Cataglyphis, WVU’s NASA Sample Return Robot. “The goal for this robot was to demonstrate its autonomous capability to locate and retrieve samples from locations over a wide terrain,” said Strader. “Cataglyphis’ ability to navigate and sense samples is vital to the mission.” Strader will build upon his current research over the next three years, focusing on navigation and perception for multi-robot systems and tensegrity structures—or flexible structures built entirely of interlocking struts and cables. “Jared is one of the sharpest students I have ever taught and has made numerous technical innovations as a researcher,” said Gu. “Furthermore, his extraordinary leadership skills help create positive peer pressure that motivates everyone in the lab, including myself, to work harder and be more creative.” As an undergraduate biology major at WVU, Wagner worked as a conservation intern and field research assistant, collecting data on the habitat and population of American ginseng, then organizing a large-scale reintroduction of the plant into local habitats. After years in the field, Wagner decided to pursue a doctoral degree in chemical engineering so she could gain experience in laboratory research. Working with Cerasela Zoica Dinu, associate professor of chemical and biomedical engineering, Wagner investigates toxicity of different types of organically modified nanoclays—or layered mineral platelets—on human lung epithelial cells. “For this specific project, I am looking at nanoclays used in food packaging materials,” said Wagner. “I look at the morphology and molecular compositions, then degrade the nanoclays under high temperatures to model inhalation toxicity at manufacturing and disposal levels.”

“Alix’s selection for this fellowship is a superb investment in the future of women in engineering,” said Dinu. “Coming into our program from a biology background, Alix did not spare any efforts to engage in scientific and outreach activities. She is an outstanding student and a testimony of the high-quality graduate students in our department.” Majjigapu received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Chaitanya Bharthi Institute of Technology, Osmania University in India before relocating to WVU as a graduate student to focus on structural engineering. As a graduate research assistant in the Constructed Facilities Center housed in the Statler College, Majjigapu’s doctoral research focuses on economical solutions to repair deteriorating infrastructure. “Our nation’s infrastructure is failing and will cost $3.6 trillion to fix,” said Majjigapu. “By developing new structural repair processes utilizing advanced materials, we can cut the future costs of crumbling infrastructure.” Working with Hota GangaRao, director of the CFC, Majjigapu has designed innovative, patent-pending fiber reinforced polymer composites—material that can be wrapped around existing concrete, timber and steel to strengthen structures. “Not only does this process cut costs, it strengthens the infrastructure, especially at the joints,” said Majjigapu. “This is critical when you consider the earthquakes, wind, blasts and other forces of nature our infrastructure is exposed to.” A leader in the CFC, Majjigapu also received the 2016 Kenneth D. Gray Leadership Award, a merit for outstanding student leaders at WVU. “Praveen has exhibited exemplary leadership qualities and through his research has brought great recognition to the University,” said GangaRao. “He works relentlessly to advance the field of composite material applications and will find great success in his career.” “I am extremely honored to receive this prestigious fellowship,” said Majjigapu. “The award has boosted my confidence as a researcher and further motivates me to pursue my dreams of advancing the nation’s infrastructure.” WVU STATLER COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING AND MINERAL RESOURCES

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STUDENTS TEAM WITH COUNTERPARTS IN MEXICO TO CREATE APP TO FIND SUPPORT FOR STRAY DOGS

BY MARY C. DILLON

It’s no secret that Americans love their dogs, with many admitting that money is no object when it comes to pampering their pooch. But in neighboring countries like Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela, our four-legged friends are not so fortunate, with animal welfare often-times taking a backseat to economic, political and social problems. As a result, countless dogs find themselves on the streets searching for food and struggling to survive. A group of students from West Virginia University are partnering with students from the National Autonomous University of Mexico to find a solution to the problem. “In Latin America, the canine population lives in really poor conditions,” said Saiph Savage, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering at WVU. “Many of the communities have created temporary shelters that are managed by volunteers who use their own monies to care for the dogs. While they do their best, the conditions are poor, with three or more dogs often living in an area of about 10 square feet. Even more alarming is that most dogs have lived in those shelters for more than a decade.” After meeting with the volunteers, the team of students, led by Claudia Flores-Saviaga, a doctoral student at WVU, and Alejandra Monroy, an undergraduate student from UNAM, came up with a plan to link volunteers with people willing to help not only fund the shelters but also adopt the dogs. Using data from social media accounts to analyze user preferences and interests in dogs, the team created TinWOOF, a Tinder-like mobile application that seeks to connect people concerned about dogs in order to improve the situation dogs find themselves in. The app

allows users to view the dogs from subscribed shelters, allowing them to “virtually” adopt the dog, i.e., donate money to the shelter, or actually adopt the dog and become its new owner. In both cases, the shelter’s benefited as well as the dogs. The app is currently being tested in Mexico City.

system to dispatch micro-tasks to citizens that they can do to help stray dogs in their free time,” said Monroy. “An example of a microtask is to suggest they give a dog at the shelter a quick walk around the neighborhood or they create posters for a shelter to help promote adoption of available dogs.”

“Given our technological strengths, we thought we could help create computational techniques to integrate these groups,” said Monroy. “We wanted to help them better communicate among each other.”

The project is the latest in a series of research conducted by Savage and her team at WVU that is focused on creating human-centered platforms and systems to better coordinate crowds of volunteers to transform and improve communities.

In the case of virtual adoptions, the user simply donates a small amount monthly to the shelter to buy food and supplies or help with sterilization campaigns. To adopt a dog, users must fill out a form to establish interest and, once verified, they must accept regular monitoring to ensure the new home is suitable for the pet. The team encountered a problem early on. The number of dogs available for adoption was larger than the number of citizens available to adopt them. However, there were a large number of people who wanted to help in some way but could not afford to donate money. “To enable more people to help stray dogs in their cities, we added to a method to our

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“One of these projects we are working on is in conjunction with the Wikimedia Foundation, in collaboration with Dario Taraborelli, head of research at Wikimedia,” said Savage. “The first phase of the research involved a pilot study where social media bots recruited and guided experts to obtain contributions to edit Wikipedia. Another interesting system we are exploring is to coordinate volunteers for collective action to build accessibility infrastructure. Working in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, we are building a system that organizes large crowds of volunteers to deploy beacons in a building to help sight-impaired people navigate indoors.”


ENGINEERS WITHOUT BORDERS COMPLETES SERVICE IN RANDOLPH COUNTY BY BERNADETTE DOMBROWSKI

Charles Dickens once said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” West Virginia University’s Engineers Without Borders chapter is anything but useless. The chapter visited Huttonsville, a rural town in Randolph County with a population less than 300, May 7-12, to complete service projects with Tyrand Cooperative Missions. “Tyrand Cooperative Missions ended up being the perfect partner for our chapter as they helped us find suitable projects and gave us access to their head carpenter,” said Colin Frosch, president of EWB and a civil engineering graduate student from Fairmont. “We worked on design, layout and completion of all our projects under their expert guidance.” Seventeen engineering students went on the trip and completed 417 community service hours. The students broke up into small groups each day to complete the projects, including pressure washing and painting at a church; constructing shelves and organizing for the Mission; building and installing porch gates, handicap accessible ramps and porch roofs for members of the community; collecting materials for a local thrift store; and visiting Elkins Middle School to discuss WVU, engineering and conduct problem-solving activities. “One particular moment that stood out to me was during a car ride to get supplies for a gate we were building for an individual with Alzheimer’s,” said Madison Thompson, a civil engineering major from Morgantown. “The individual’s son told me about the issues they face every day getting his father treatment in such a rural and undeveloped area. To be able to build this gate for this family in an area where there’s no other assistance was very

rewarding, and I am truly grateful we were able to help them.” The students also spent time exploring the local sites and bonding as a chapter. Activities included visiting the Green Bank Telescope, Spruce Knob, Seneca Rocks and Blackwater Falls. Students who joined Frosch and Thompson on the trip included civil engineering majors David Donaldson and MacKenzie Day; mechanical engineering majors Benjamin Grenier, Jessi Hartsell and Ross Levelle; chemical engineering majors Cristin Dolan, Michael Fouts and Soofia Lateef; industrial engineering majors Samantha Holm and Elizabeth Dang; biometric systems and computer engineering major Kristy Rumball; aerospace engineering majors Tabitha Hilston and Jaya Karlapati; mechanical and aerospace engineering double major Lauren Patton; and elementary education major Gina Paugh. “We had a diverse group of students from different majors and states, but everyone joined together to support a common goal,” said Frosch. “I was proud to see how well everyone represented WVU, worked together as a team and accomplished our tasks. I believe this trip energized my classmates to go forward and continue helping others throughout our studies and careers.” EWB has more than 138 members who complete service projects and student activities throughout the year. While most members are engineering students, all majors are welcome to join. WVU STATLER COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING AND MINERAL RESOURCES

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WVU TEAM MAKES STRONG SHOWING AT ECOCAR 3 YEAR TWO COMPETITION BY CHELSEA BETTS PHOTOS GENERAL MOTORS AND MYLES REGAN

The West Virginia University EcoCAR 3 team returned from a two-week stint on the West Coast, where they showcased their newly integrated hybrid Camaro to industry professionals.

The long hours spent in the garage were worth it, with WVU finishing sixth out of the 16 North American universities participating. The team was also one of the first teams to pass the first round of inspections set forth by the competition organizers.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors, EcoCAR 3 is a fouryear collegiate engineering competition that builds upon the 26-year history of the DOE’s Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions. The program seeks to develop the next generation of automotive engineers with unparalleled experience designing, building and promoting leading-edge automotive technologies. The team, made up of students from the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, the Reed College of Media and the College of Business and Economics, first traveled to the General Motors Desert Proving Grounds in Yuma, Arizona, where they passed a series of safety and technical inspections in an effort to get their performance hybrid up and running.

“During our time in Yuma we worked long, strenuous hours to pass safety tech, and in the end it was worth every second,” said Nick McGettigan, an electrical engineering major from Swanton, Maryland. “Many of the GM officials and competition organizers praised us for the quality of our vehicle and our work.” The second week of competition took place in San Diego, California, where the team presented their work in the form of static presentations that documented the process of creating a working hybrid vehicle. Other presentations highlighted the team’s marketing plan for their vehicle and the communications efforts used to inform target audiences. The team gave 10 presentations to judges from industry and government. The team placed seventh overall and also received the “Team to Watch” award, which is presented to the school that shows strong improvement from year one as well as the

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potential to grow in future years of the competition. WVU also took fourth place for their communications campaign in year two of the competition. “This second year of competition was difficult, being an integration year, but very rewarding,” said Andrew Nix, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at WVU and faculty advisor for the team. “The student’s dedicated to this program gained valuable experience in vehicle mechanical, electrical and controls integration that will serve them well in their future careers. As a result, many of them will accept jobs with General Motors and other companies in the automotive industry.” Mechanical engineering major Justin Brumley, the team’s engineering manager from Delaware, Ohio, couldn’t help but express his enthusiasm and love for the project after being involved for the past two years. “The time I spent at the GM Desert Proving Grounds and throughout this entire competition is something I will never forget,” Brumley said. “Seeing our car performing so well was very rewarding, and I cannot wait to see how the team does in future years of this competition.”


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BEAHR EARNS SCHOLARSHIP FROM AUTOMOTIVE AFTERMARKET ASSOCIATION BY MARY C. DILLON

Senior David Beahr received a $3,000 scholarship from the Specialty Equipment Market Association. The award is given to students interested in pursuing careers in automotive-related industries, and recipients are invited to attend the 2016 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, in November. Beahr admits that his choice of a major— petroleum and natural gas engineering— may not seem a likely choice for someone interested in pursuing a career in automotives. But the Windber, Pennsylvania, native sees it differently. “Companies are constantly searching for new methods to improve fuel efficiency,” Beahr said. “Some make use of turbo or other forced air intakes to increase mileage, while others may lighten the weight of a vehicle. Many companies have even researched hydrogen or electric powered engines. You seldom read, however, about an incorporation focusing on the analysis of a natural petroleum paraffin being used. “I’m confident that by researching petroleum composition, a method can be deviated to structurally rearrange the octane molecule and compound additives, creating a more fuel efficient petroleum product,” Beahr continued. “I also want to develop a special fuel stabilizer for antique carburetors. Becoming a petroleum engineer is the only way to achieve these goals and contribute to automotive markets.” Beahr’s love for all things automotive comes from his father, Paul, who works side-by-side with him on antique car restorations and as his crew chief on the dirt track racing circuit. ENGINEERING WEST VIRGINIA

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“Being a driver since age 16, with my father as my mentor and crew chief, helped instill in me the importance of hard work and responsibility,” Beahr said. “Those long nights in the garage and at the track not only gave me lessons in life and manufacturing, but a burning passion to be the best.” He’s also one of the best in the classroom, consistently landing on either the University’s President’s or Dean’s lists. He also serves as president of WVU’s chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. “Whether he is spending his weekend restoring classic cars, racing at the dirt track or working in his family’s auto parts store, David is immersed in all things automotive,” said Melissa Morris, teaching assistant professor of fundamentals of engineering and TBP chapter advisor. “As a car-lover myself, David and I have had numerous conversations relating to his desire to pursue a career in the automotive industry after graduation and his plans to continue to support and participate in stock car racing. “Beyond his excellent academic performance and unparalleled passion for the automotive industry,” Morris continued, “it should be noted that he is the most humble, respectful student I have ever had the pleasure of teaching.”


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@WVHEPC Sep 8 Huge congratulations to @wvustatler on this phenomenal accomplishment!

@Mintman0007 Sep 8

Tweets Averill_Sarah Sep 6 @NASAPrize Sep 8 Proud to close the Sample Return Robot Challenge with a big win and tech advancement! Congrats again, @wvustatler

Moments like this make me super proud to be part of #WVU & the engineering dept! @wvustatler @WestVirginiaU

@wvustatler Congrats on the Big Win. WVU educating future leaders. Continue your dreams. Go Mounties.

@AutonomouStuff Sep 7 We’re proud to have supported this awesome team! Great job!! #nasatech #innovation #srrbot #engineering

@onlinecomp Sep 5 Phoenix, AZ @SenCapito Sep 6 Congrats to @wvustatler on another 1st place finish at @NASAPrize’s #SRRbot competition. What an accomplishment!

Congrats @wvustatler on the win for #robotics

@Fast3ddi Sep 6 @WestVirginiaU @wvustatler @NASAPrize Inquiring minds want to know! Rumor is y’all won some money!

@calebkinchlow Sep 6 @NASA360 salutes @wvustatler of @WestVirginiaU on their @NASAPrize win! We are expecting gr8 things #SRRbot #NASA

@spacecasper Sep 8 After 5 years, @NASAPRize Sample Return Robot Challenge won by @wvustatler.

@a_rufener62 Sep 6 People wanna say that WVU is only a party school, but who just won NASA’s challenge? Not my department, but proud to be a @wvustatler student.


DETERMINED STUDENTS ARE

FIRST, AND NOW ONLY,

WINNERS OF NASA ROBOT COMPETITION BY HEATHER RICHARDSON PHOTOS JENNIFER SHEPHARD

On Labor Day evening, a group of 10 West Virginia University students gathered around a pile of pizza boxes and textbooks, recapping their weekends and planning for the week of classes ahead. Pizza, conversation and textbooks. Pretty ordinary evening in the life of college students, right? But there was—and is—nothing ordinary about these 10 Mountaineer engineering students who had just accomplished the extraordinary—successfully navigating their robot, Cataglyphis, to amass 11 points to win the Level 2 competition for the Sample Robot Return Challenge as part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges, bringing home a $750,000 prize, the largest NASA has awarded in the five-year history of the Challenge. The goal of the Centennial Challenges is to allow citizens to help NASA solve problems through the sharing of information regarding the technology of rovers that travel to Mars. The information gleaned will help NASA engineers improve those technologies.

In total, the WVU team has prevailed over 50 others, winning $855,000 over three years of competition, including $5,000 for the Level 1 victory in 2014. That victory qualified it to compete at Level 2 in 2015, claiming $100,000 for the first Level 2 victory. They are the only team to ever win Level 2—and it’s a feat they’ve achieved for two consecutive years. The success came through three years of tireless effort from a sharp cross-section of WVU students with an unrelenting commitment to excellence and accuracy. It was that powerful team dynamic that propelled their robot to autonomously collect four samples of varying difficulty levels and point values on a 20-acre field over a two-hour period and return them to the platform. One of those students is Morgantown native Nick Ohi, who has participated all three years in the competition as he transitioned from an undergraduate to a doctoral student in the mechanical and aerospace engineering program at the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.


The Cataglyphis team

After last year’s victory, Ohi didn’t miss a beat. He and his teammates were ready to get back in the lab and improve their robot for the 2016 competition. They often invested more than 100 hours per week to perfect software, programming and the mission plan. And improve it, they did. “Our biggest improvement from last year was giving the robot the ability to autonomously make decisions, and that strategy really paid off for us,” Ohi said. “We added a lot of new features to make it smarter. We modified sensors and adjusted the camera to take one photo of the samples instead of nine, which sped up the process.” According to Ken Stafford, director of the Robotics Resource Center at competition-host school Worcester Polytechnic Institute and competition judge, those improvements were critical in the team’s successful performance. “WVU is always a lot of fun to watch in the Challenge, but they really stole the show this year,” Stafford said. “They had some strong physical improvements that allowed their robot to make fast decisions and pick up samples faster. They had absolutely superior navigation, which was a big key for them.” Monsi Roman, program director of the NASA Centennial Challenges, couldn’t agree more. She applauded WVU’s hybrid of strengths that led them to victory. “There is no question that the engineering that went into the WVU rover is incredible,” Roman said. “It performed flawlessly. They took a multidisciplinary approach to designing the rover that is

incredible to watch come to life. They just have a seamless camaraderie that strongly contributed to their success.” One of many people who is proud of that success is Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College. “The Statler College is elated with the success of our students in this NASA Sample Return Robot Challenge,” Cilento said. “Their passion and enthusiasm, combined with the leadership and dedication of our faculty mentors, has been phenomenal. They have achieved significant national exposure for themselves and West Virginia University. We will use this success and award to continue to grow robotics education and research at WVU.” Faculty mentors have been a not-sosecret weapon in the team’s success. Yu Gu, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, has mentored and guided the team for three years with the guidance and consultation of his Statler colleagues Jason Gross, Marvin Cheng and Powsiri Klinkhachorn. “We expected WVU to do well because they have amazing leadership in Dr. Gu,” Stafford said. “He is an inspiring leader full of enthusiasm and passion for robotics and genuinely cares about helping his students learn.” West Virginia University President Gordon Gee said, “Dr. Gu, his colleagues and the students at Statler have shown us what Mountaineer determination is. They have improved every year, and as a result are the only team to come away winners. They are an inspiration to us all.” According to team members Ohi and Scott Harper, a master’s student in

Yu Gu

Items for retrieval

mechanical and aerospace engineering from Spencer, Gu’s leadership style empowers them to creatively approach strategy while he manages the details. “Gu is the ideas guy,” Ohi said. “He comes up with the big picture, but he trusts our knowledge and lets us run with it. He just keeps us on track. It really fosters innovation and gives us the freedom to explore and to best approach problems.” “Gu knows more about this robot than anyone else without actually touching anything on it,” Harper said. But Gu is quick to give the credit to his students, leaving no question that the sweetest part of this milestone day for him is watching them relish the moment. “I just feel really lucky to be able to work with this group,” Gu said. “They are really outstanding. I’ve watched many of them grow and take leadership roles as they transition from undergraduates to graduate students. They all have bright futures.” But before they journey into their hopeful futures of helping mankind by developing cutting-edge space technology, they have some more immediate priorities on their lists. “The first thing I’m going to do when I get home is sleep,” Ohi said with a laugh. “It’s been an exhausting few days. Once I get some rest, I can’t wait to do simple things, like hang out with friends I’ve neglected during all those nights we were locked away in the lab.” Lesson learned: when you’ve accomplished the extraordinary by the age of 22, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of the ordinary.


NASA Centennial Challenges were initiated in 2005 to engage the public in the process of advanced technology development. The program offers incentive prizes to generate revolutionary solutions to problems of interest to NASA and the nation. Competitors are not supported by government funding and awards are only made to successful teams when the challenges are met.

Share Jay Jones These guys and gals ROCK!

Adam Pauley Huge congrats to them and everyone who helped alongside. Always proud to be a Mountaineer!

Tawny Shay Hall Way to go WVU Engineering students and faculty! You are all winners! Always knew WVU had a great engineering school, great faculty, and fantastic students!

Jared Strader and Nick Ohi

Christel Barrett-Dietzius So proud of this accomplishment. My son Barrett was involved in this the last 4 years before he graduated. Go WVU!!

Rocco Biscieglia Congrats - I watched the whole thing. So close to the 1.3 million. I was on the edge of my seat when it thought it had the last sample.

Michelle Sieminski Winning gold medals, taking over NASA‌ no big deal but my school is the best.

Sean Gould: WVU quietly conquering the world ... and soon other worlds as well

Emily Calandrelli Presentation of the winning check

You make all of us so proud! Go Mountaineers!

Perri Kawash Congratulations! And thanks for all your hard work. You guys exemplify all that it means to be a Mountaineer! Go First!!

Larry Ferrell Thank you for representing WVU at the highest level of excellence. SPIRIT OF EXCELLENCE!


WVU PROUD!


Student News of Note Yasser Khouj, a computer science and electrical engineering graduate student, presented a poster at the Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research Conference on Engineering and Physical Sciences in June. The work was entitled, “The Detection of Ductal Carcinoma Using Noninvasive Hyperspectral Imaging.”

David Donaldson, a civil engineering major, received a $1,000 scholarship from the West Virginia Society of Professional Engineers and a $2,000 scholarship from the North Central West Virginia Chapter of the American Society of Highway Engineers. In March, he was selected into the 201617 Laurel Chapter of the Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society. He was one of 65 WVU students selected to the senior honorary for exemplifying excellence in the areas of scholarship, leadership and community service.

Two new student organizations—Material Advantage and Materials Research Society—awarded prizes during the first-ever Mountaineer Maker’s Challenge held in April. The competition challenged students to create and print a unique 3-D design that could be judged in one of four categories: best artistic design, best West Virginia pride, best mechanized design and open design. For more information and a list of winners: http://bit.ly/26s21ao

Chris Newman, a recent mining engineering graduate, won the Kazem Oraee Scholarship for Mining at the 2015 International Conference on Ground Control in Mining. The $5,000 scholarship was created to promote underground mining engineering and ground control discipline and is awarded annually at the ICGCM conference.

Two recent mining engineering graduates, Ethan Watson and Laura Nugent, won the 19th annual Carlson Software National Senior Design Competition. The duo entered the competition with their capstone mine design project, which required them to obtain drill hole data from a mining company, then develop a full geological evaluation of the site and operational plan to extract the product. They were awarded $2,000 for their win. Read more online at: http://bit.ly/2aulUVo

Two teams of students from WVU were among the top six finishers in the Seventh Annual Mercury Remote Robot Challenge, held in April at Oklahoma State University. The Tank, created by electrical engineering and computer science majors Meelis Kiisk from Paide, Estonia, and John Norman, from Finksburg, Maryland, and Cassie Ueltschy, an electrical engineering major from Pine Grove, finished third behind the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Paraíba in Brazil, and Oklahoma State University. It also took third place for the Judge’s Choice Award. DJ Roomba, created by Seth Theeke, a computer engineering major from Morgantown, Mason Greathouse, an electrical engineering and computer engineering major from Parkersburg, and Bryan Woodgate, a computer engineering and biometrics major from Rockville, Maryland, finished sixth. For more information: http://bit.ly/1XIubb8

Zachary Stevens was named a top 10 finalist in Stratasys’ 2016 Extreme Redesign 3-D Printing Challenge for his innovative 3-D Bone Fixation System. Stevens’ design uses 3-D imaging, like CAT scans, to create customized bone plates specific to an individual’s body structure and body mass index. According to Stevens, this will reduce a large percentage of plate failures. Read more online at: http://bit.ly/1MdTK32

Doctoral candidate Peng Zheng won first place in the oral presentation category at the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering’s regional student competition held in April. Zheng received a cash award as well as an allexpenses paid trip to the national finals in Anaheim, California, in September. Master’s candidate Kancharla Sai Manohari placed fourth in the poster category.

In conjunction with students from Fairmont State University and Shepherd University, 12 undergraduate students in the Statler College have been accepted to NASA’s Student Flight Research Opportunity. The group, led by John Kuhlman, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, will test their magnetic solder joints concept in two test flights aboard a zero gravity aircraft, known as the “Vomit Comet.”


COVER STORY:

THE CHANGING FACE OF BIOMETRICS

GUEST EDITORIAL:

NEW CHALLENGES FACING BIOMETRIC TECHNOLOGY

J. Kevin Reid

is vice president of national security and chief information officer, KeyLogic Systems, Inc. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from WVU in 1984.

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PHOTO J. PAIGE NESBIT


Over the past decade, biometric technology has made great strides in accuracy and scalability. This has been demonstrated by the success of major biometric systems at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Defense. The accuracy of fingerprint identification has greatly improved and improvements in latent prints, which are impressions left by the ridged skin of fingers or palms, have been revolutionary. Biometrics are no longer a technology used solely by law enforcement officials or only seen by the public in shows like “CSI” or “NCIS.” The use of face and iris recognition technology is becoming commonplace, being used most notably in Apple’s iPhone as a security measure. West Virginia University has played a significant role in the advancement of biometrics systems on the national stage. I previously served as program manager for the FBI’s Next Generation Identification Program, which when announced in 2008 with a budget of more than $2 billion, was one of the largest information technology projects in the history of the federal government. During my time on the project, we utilized WVU experts, who played a critical role in validating biometric modalities research, benchmarks and testing. They collected biometric data supporting the FBI’s testing and evaluation of these novel identification tools and techniques. As part of this project, undergraduates were able to gain invaluable research experience using these systems in data collection. WVU’s role was to provide biometrics research support to the FBI and its law enforcement and national security partners while serving as the liaison to the academic and industry community of biometric researchers nationwide. New challenges now face the adoption of emerging biometric technologies and modalities. Biometric identification systems offer more security, convenience, accountability and accurate audit trails and, as a result, they are swiftly emerging as a solution for improved digital security for healthcare, financial and mobile applications. The rapid growth of biometric identification technology has been driven, in part, by the digitization of financial services and the demand to adopt stricter customer and employee identification protocols to prevent identity theft and fraud. Biometric forms of authentication are being adopted to provide consumers with faster and more user-friendly experiences. According to Gartner, a technology research and advisory company, 30 percent of all organizations will be using biometrics on mobile devices for access and authentication by the end of 2016. In my role as vice president of national security for KeyLogic Systems, Inc., I continue to leverage the recognized biometric research talent from WVU to solve tough biometric problems and to provide solutions in the future. The need for improving existing and emergent biometric technology for use in cyber security, intelligence, DOD and law enforcement arenas will continue to rapidly evolve. WVU’s Center for Identification Technology Research, a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center, is an internationally recognized biometric research group that enables new partnerships. CITeR faculty and students have a well-established history of forming academic teams to address specific areas of research and reaching out to other academic institutions to form multi-university collaborations. WVU will always be a valuable partner for facilitating research, development, training and other activities related to biometric technologies and systems. Clearly, biometric technology is a macro trend with global importance that impacts nearly every single person. For the moment, however, it is still in the early stages of its lifecycle. This creates an enormous opportunity for researchers who are working to identify innovations and solutions that will evolve, mature and increasingly integrate into our business and personal lives. WVU has established a strong foundation in these important areas and remains committed to bolstering its expertise and leadership in the field.

BIOMETRIC COLLECTION WORK PAYS OFF FOR ALUMNUS BY BERNADETTE DOMBROWSKI

For nearly 10 years, students at West Virginia University have been doing multimodal biometric data collections for government-sponsored agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigations. FORTNER The tedious task, which involves the collection of fingerprints, iris and facial images from thousands of participants to test new biometric collection devices, has paid off for many of these students in the form of early career advancements and knowledge beyond their years in the areas of biometrics. Cameron Fortner is one of those students. As an undergraduate biometric systems and computer engineering dual major, Fortner spent countless hours in the biometrics laboratory working on the project, which was initially called the Biometric College of People or BioCOP project. “Prior to working on the BioCOP project, I was exposed to the theoretical aspects and scientific knowledge behind biometric technology through formal coursework,” said Fortner, a Cross Lanes native. “Working in the laboratory provided insight to the challenges associated with the organization and collection of an individual’s biometrics and educated me on the complexities of biometric technology.” According to Fortner, some of the biggest lessons he learned at WVU came from biometrics collection. “During my time spent at WVU, I gained many invaluable lessons, and one of the most important lessons came from learning how to adapt and approach challenges that were presented during data collection,” said Fortner. “The experience served as a reality check that things can, and likely will, go wrong at times. It reiterated that you have to be flexible and agile in finding ways to advance efforts forward; this could be in the realm of data collection, software development, hardware integration or any other task that is presented and needs to be addressed.” Fortner now works as a lead biometrics engineer for MITRE, a not-forprofit organization that operates research and development centers sponsored by the federal government. “I frequently shift from research and development efforts to envisioning end-user requirements and finding ways to bring them to fruition, to executing administrative responsibilities,” said Fortner. “My typical day is very multi-faceted; I’m always kept on my toes.” While the real-world operational scenarios that Fortner faces in his day-to-day work are a bit more challenging than the controlled biometric collection he handled at WVU, he says it’s all relative. “My typical day has a loose correlation to the BioCOP data collection, in that we are constantly trying to utilize, leverage and identify datasets that support our research and development efforts,” said Fortner. “In our mission to support the government sponsor, it’s essential that we find representative datasets so we can tailor our approach to meet their mission needs.” WVU STATLER COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING AND MINERAL RESOURCES

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MOLECULAR BIOMETRICS SHIFTING PARADIGM IN D N A A N A LY S I S BY BERNADETTE DOMBROWSKI

Deoxyribonucleic acid, better known as DNA, is known as a key tool for conviction in many criminal cases, but West Virginia University researcher Jeremy Dawson thinks there are more applications for human double helixes. Dawson, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering, works in molecular biometrics in the area of rapid DNA technology. This technology analyzes short tandem repeat—or STR—regions within DNA, a section of the sequence that a human receives from each parent but is highly variable among the species, making them ideal for identification purposes. Typical DNA analysis takes three hours in a laboratory on a standard forensic system, but can be held up for weeks due to work flow. When DNA is run through a rapid DNA system, which can be set up anywhere, an STR profile is made in about an hour. “Rapid DNA systems take the same hardware and software usually found in a laboratory and convert it into a miniature, portable device that performs the standard process with the same results,” said Dawson. “With the ability to take the system anywhere, a new realm of

possibilities outside of criminal justice opens up.” Consider this scenario: A man at one of the United States’ borders is trying to cross into the country with 10 children he claims are his own. Other than checking passports and asking questions, is there a quick way to know if he’s telling the truth? With a rapid DNA system on site, a border patrol agent could conduct cheek swabs of the family in question. Because the man is claiming to be the father of the children, one of each child’s STRs should match their father and each other. If the children are his, they can go on their way. If not, the group would be pulled aside for further questioning. “This is what we call a biometric screening, and you can see where we’re not using the DNA in a typical application,” said Dawson. “We’re not using the DNA to convict someone of a crime, but rather as an investigative tool.” Dawson can think of other recent tragedies that could take advantage of this technology. “There are instances like tsunamis and terrorist attacks where you have mass casualties and

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you have family members out searching for their loved ones,” he said. “Because you have a victim and a relative to match with, you can do a DNA test quickly and bring closure.” Dawson is one of the only researchers in the country considering DNA as a biometric modality. “DNA processing still isn’t fast enough to be considered a biometric identifier,” said Dawson. “The hour that it takes to get a result is still not as fast as putting your fingerprint down on a sensor and getting an answer back in a fraction of a second, but we’re getting there.” Dawson is currently developing new hardware components to make the system quicker. His focus on investigation rather than prosecution allows him to accept the tradeoff of 100 percent fidelity for speed. “Because of the biometric scenarios where we want to apply this technology, we can handle a decrease in the quality of the information in order to get a faster answer,” said Dawson. “Once we have the answer, we can always identify and boost some of the low-quality information using signal processing approaches.”


WVU CREATES NEW BIOMETRICS HUB West Virginia University recently created a new hub that consolidates its programs, activities and informationsharing related to biometrics research.

The Biometrics and Identification Innovation Center, or BIIC, was created in hopes of advancing biometric capabilities for commercial applications and national security to combat identity theft, crime and terrorism. “BIIC consists of 14 core faculty who are internationally recognized biometric scientists specializing in different aspect of biometrics research,” said Nasser Nasrabadi, professor of computer science and electrical engineering and founder of BIIC. “They have expertise in virtually every aspect of biometric research, including using hard and soft biometrics traits, multimodal, cross-modal, mobile biometrics, anti-spoofing, biometric cryptosystem and data and video analytics.” Nasrabadi said one of the reasons behind BIIC’s creation is the anticipated growth in the use of biometrics in both governmental and commercial markets.

“We’re not using the DNA to convict someone of a crime, but rather as an investigative tool.” — Jeremy Dawson Dawson hopes his research will show others the value of rapid DNA technology and the use of DNA outside of criminal persecution. “You can see how the forensic scenarios commonly associated with DNA are just a subset of the potential applications for DNA-based identification, and just how useful DNA can be,” said Dawson. “As rapid systems become faster and faster, enabled by new hardware and signal processing methods, they will open up a whole new realm of biometrics applications based on the unique molecular signatures possessed by humans.”

“The governments of numerous countries around the world are adopting biometric systems for identification and verification purposes in such items as e-passports and e-visas,” said Nasrabadi. “They are also being used as security applications for laptop computers, smart phones and commercial transactions. The inclusion of biometrics in mobile devices for security and instant electronic payments will generate approximately $9 billion worth of revenue by 2018 for the biometrics industry.” Nasrabadi describes BIIC as a pivotal point for the biometrics research activities at WVU with national/ international collaborations with the biometrics industry and Department of Defense organizations. “I strongly believe that WVU has the intellectual ability and resources to be the main source of biometrics technology and repository for biometrics datasets,” Nasrabadi said. “BIIC’s researchers have a proven track record of contributing to government and commercial companies in order to advance the capability of current biometrics systems. Our faculty have a well-established history of addressing and solving these problems for governmental and commercial entities and we look forward to expanding our relationships in the months to come.”

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BOURLAI TEAMS WITH WVU ALUMS O N T E C H S TA R T U P BY MARY C. DILLON PHOTOS BRIAN PERSINGER

What happens when you merge surveillance application technologies with a mobile shopping app? Just ask Thirimachos Bourlai, Jonathan Ohliger and Grant Wiley. Bourlai, an assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering in the Statler College, has teamed with WVU alumni Ohliger and Wiley on VeePiO, a new mobile application that allows users to click on objects seen in digital media and purchase them from the Amazon Marketplace. It all started when Ohliger, who graduated from WVU in 2000, was talking to his friend, Zachary Busby, on the phone. Busby, who was watching a video, lamented his frustration to Wiley about not being able to find the jacket the performer was wearing.

“Zac’s frustration was growing about not being able to locate this jacket online,” Ohliger said. “He said, ‘How come we can put people in space but I can’t click on this video to find out what kind of jacket someone is wearing?’” Four years later, Ohliger, Wiley and Busby, who is the company’s content curator, launched VeePiO. “Our core product is a software developer kit or SDK,” said Ohliger. “Any third-party application developer will be able to integrate our technology stack into any web or mobile app. VeePiO will provide the VeePiO SDK for iOS, Android and web applications.”

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According to Ohliger, “VeePiO creators are app users who tag and link objects, known as Veep’d tracks, in their social media, making the content interactive and/or shoppable. Creators can monetize their content by linking the objects to Amazon so that when a viewer clicks on a Veep’d track and purchases the item from Amazon, the creator of the media will get paid according to Amazon’s affiliate commission schedule. “It is our view that VeePiO content creators are doing all the work,” Ohliger continued. “By paying them, we believe we have created the world’s first global jobs program.”


“There are surveillance applications where this type of computer vision technology can be of significant value,” Bourlai said. “We can use algorithms to detect, track and identify a human by their face or other biometric trait, while at the same time we can detect, track and identify what they wear, for example. This is an important advantage that law enforcement offices can now use, allowing them to respond quickly when needed. Any information about the target of interest—including the type of clothes they wear—can be very useful toward the rapid tracking and identification of individuals of interest within a video.” Bourlai has a seen a shift in the trend of traditional biometrics being thought of only in terms of facial, iris or fingerprint recognition. “While trends in biometric technologies change depending on many factors, it is exciting to see that there is a significant interest in moving from traditional to cognitive biometrics,” Bourlai said. “Just as when you touch something, your finger leaves behind a fingerprint, when you interact with technology you do so in a pattern based on how your mind processes information, leaving behind a cognitive fingerprint.”

Jonathan Ohliger (in red) leads the VeePiO team with Thirimachos Bourlai (white shirt).

When the team at VeePiO needed help getting the product off the ground they turned back to the community that in their words, “provided us with so much,” West Virginia University. “It wasn’t that long ago that after a full day of classes we had to endure 96 degree weather and 16 pounds of pads,” said Wiley, who along with Ohliger, played on the Mountaineer football team under former head coach Don Nehlen. “It was always a dream of ours to build a business and create opportunity for WVU and the state of West Virginia. We are a product of this extraordinary culture, and we also understand that great talent and innovation come from great institutions.” “When we were approached by the team at VeePiO, we saw the project both as a way to apply WVU’s strengths in computer science as well as an opportunity for current WVU students to gain real-world experience alongside successful, entrepreneurial alumni,” said Matt Harbaugh, associate vice president for transformation at WVU. Bourlai, founder of WVU’s Multispectral Imagery Lab, and a team of students are working to

develop object tracking algorithms for use in videos. The general concept of tracking is not new, but the algorithms his team are developing—the technology developed to achieve accurate tracking—is novel and the technology does have applications that have far-reaching implications beyond just shopping. “In its most basic sense, biometrics is a form of identification technology,” Bourlai said. “So whether we are identifying a person’s facial features, fingerprints or iris, we are trying to accurately track an individual’s specific modality, making it a computer vision problem. The same is true in the case of VeePiO. The challenge in this case is to identify a set of CV algorithms that can be successfully used to accurately track a specific object that the user can identify, select and ultimately purchase.” Bourlai noted that while several CV algorithms can be used, the ones already developed for certain biometric-related applications can be a great start, since the algorithmic steps to recognize an individual are very similar to the ones to identify a generic object. The relevance is significant.

Joining Bourlai in this work are several students including Rohitha Reddy Matta, a graduate research assistant in electrical engineering, who has been developing algorithms to recognize the objects in the videos. In order to earn her position, she first had to complete a programming task on face tracking for Bourlai as part of the interview process. “As the part of the project, I am getting a chance to work on various software platforms and work as part of a professional team,” said Reddy Matta, who works out of VeePiO’s new Morgantown office. “During the course of this project, I interact with the sponsors and the team on a regular basis, giving me experience in working in a corporate work environment. The research component of the project and the support from Dr. Bourlai will be assets on my résumé after graduation.” VeePiO launched its beta version in July with its official market launch scheduled for fall.

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EXPLORING THE BEHIND-THESCENES WORLD OF BOTS BY MARY C. DILLON PHOTOS J. PAIGE NESBIT

At its annual developers conference held earlier this year, Facebook announced it was bringing a new range of functions to its popular communications app, Facebook Messenger. Businesses will now have the opportunity to deliver automated customer support, e-commerce guidance, content and interactive experiences to Facebook’s millions of users around the globe. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, explained that users will be able to talk to Messenger bots just like they talk to friends.

Messenger bots? “Explained as simply as possible, a bot is an algorithm that simulates human behavior and interacts with humans,” said Saiph Savage, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering. “Social bots work on any social platform such as Facebook, Twitter and Telegram. Bots can act as personal assistants on these social networks. With their help, users will be able to interact with their favorite businesses and brands.”

According to Savage, most people don’t realize how active a role bots play in our everyday lives. In an article she co-authored in the online publication Vice, Savage noted “Bots measure the technical health of the Internet, share information on natural disasters, predict disease outbreaks, fulfill our lunch requests and send news articles to networks of people on platforms like Twitter and Slack. They may even write some of those articles.” Savage has done extensive research in the area of bots and she is widely recognized as an expert in the field. She was recently named director of the Anita Borg Community powered by Google, which has a goal of increasing the number of women in computer science worldwide. She was also invited to attend and present her research at Google I/O 2016, their annual developer’s conference held earlier this spring. Industry executives agree, and Savage concurs, that Facebook’s announcement signals a paradigm shift away from traditional apps to a more convenient, personalized and decisionsupported experience. “Businesses are creating conversational experiences that offer rich, personal ways to

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interact with their clients using bots,” Savage said. “We will get used to having a two-way conversation with a bot to order pizza. Instead of creating an order on a website or calling up your local pizzeria, the bot will let you have a natural, instant-message conversation with the vendor, which will take your order and process it.” Savage noted that developers are fine tuning and adapting ways to interact with clients, and bots will play an important part in that. “By understanding natural human language, the bots will know—and we will learn over time— what we want from them, and will be tuned to become smarter and more efficient,” she said. But, as is the case with all technology, it can be used for good or bad. “The automation can lead to unwanted practices, such as sending unsolicited messages and requests to users, which is viewed as spam,” said Savage. “Also as more and more businesses are going to employ chatbots to handle customer queries, users could also be tricked into giving personal information to ‘bad’ bots. This presents a security challenge that must be addressed in some way.”


What can users do to be vigilant? In addition to knowing who you’re talking to, Savage believes biometrics could play a role in future iterations. “We need to think of ways to help people detect when bots could be acting in fraudulent ways, and biometrics could help us do that,” she said. “I am hopeful of the future where humans and bots can collaborate to get more work done more efficiently.” Savage noted that during the recent political campaign Twitter users saw a number of accounts, called neural network bots, which parodied politicians. “This comes with extra risk,” said Savage. “A randomly generated incitement to violence may well be taken out of context. It is conceivable that someone, banking on the gullibility of fans of certain politicians, could incite an attack through a political bot.” Members of Savage’s Human Computer Interaction Lab at WVU are currently working on algorithms to detect the “botiness” of an account to help people better understand whom they are interacting with.

L-R: CLAUDIA FLORES-SAVIAGA, CHITRANGI DOSHI AND SAIPH SAVAGE

“We are looking at ways of uncovering accounts that might be linked to radicalization or terrorism,” she said. “We are especially interested in discovering individuals who are just starting to be radicalized online to stop the process and find ways to help them. We believe that by having early interventions with these individuals, we can help fight terrorism. “I am hopeful of the future where humans and bots can collaborate to get more work done more efficiently to create better societies.”

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GUO

S O LV I N G C R I M E THROUGH BIOMETRICS BY BERNADETTE DOMBROWSKI PHOTOS J. PAIGE NESBIT

When the Boston Marathon bombing occurred in 2013, law enforcement officials turned to closed circuit television footage and smart phone videos for help identifying the suspects. Unfortunately the images can often suffer from quality issues, making them difficult to use. That’s where WVU faculty members Xin Li and Guodong Guo come in. The duo, experts in the field of computer vision, are combining their expertise to work on a grant focused on facial recognition from unconstrained images— a new, and important, frontier in biometrics. Li is known for his work in image de-noising and restoration, while Guo has received international praise for his research on age and gender recognition. “Previous facial recognition research has focused on controlled images, like mugshots,” said Guo, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering. “But in the real world, you don’t always have a clear, constrained image to pull from. We’re finding a way to process those grainy photos you see on the news when a crime takes place or someone is missing.” Typical facial recognition strategies measure facial landmarks, like the distance between the eyes and width of the nose, then compare those landmarks to those in other photos to find an identity. Because of the difficulty of pulling those landmarks from low-quality photos, Guo and Li propose to understand facial images first from the perspective of image quality.

LI

“We’re adding an image enhancement step in the process to be able to find facial landmarks in these low-quality photos,” said Li, professor of computer science and electrical engineering. “After the images are enhanced, we’ll extract and combine the features we can from those photos in order to facilitate the recognition. A feature-matching program will then help us gauge the accuracy of the results.”

In today’s atmosphere, the pair’s research could be groundbreaking for government and private agencies trying to prevent or solve tragedies like terrorist attacks and mass shootings. “As we’ve learned, many of the people who commit atrocities in this day and age go mostly undetected until the crime is committed,” said Guo. “Because of that, we don’t have controlled images of them. We need to be able to accurately process what we find on the Internet, closed-circuit television and traffic cameras. These images can provide us a great deal of information. “In instances like the Boston Marathon bombing and the recent Paris attacks, you have extremely large crowds and poor quality surveillance technology,” said Guo. “Because you’re looking at thousands of people at a time, the human eye isn’t going to be able to do much with those images. This technology helps us accomplish what we can’t with our own eye.” Another use for the pair’s facial recognition technology is cases involved missing children. “When children are abducted, we typically search for them through low-quality surveillance and traffic cameras,” said Guo. “If their abductor tries to change their appearance—like their clothes or hair color—it can be difficult to recognize a child. However their abductor can’t change their facial landmarks, so our technology can still do its job.” The pair’s research is funded by WVU’s Center for Identification Technology Research and runs through 2016.

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DEPARTMENT ACADEMIES Academy of Chemical Engineers A native of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, James L. Bero, Sr. graduated from WVU in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and earned an MBA from Louisiana State University in 1997. Following graduation, Bero joined BASF as a member of their personnel development program. A year later, he took his first permanent assignment as a manufacturing supervisor. His manufacturing experience includes inorganic chemicals, polyurethanes, automotive resins/coatings and plant utilities. Over the course of his manufacturing career, he held the positions of production supervisor, production engineer, operations manager, plant manager and vice president. His early experience also includes the position of corporate capital planning manager. In 2004, Bero was named senior vice president of environment, health, safety and security, and he was responsible for development, implementation and governance of BASF’s EHS standards. He also served as chairman of BASF’s manufacturing community steering committee, crisis management team, sustainability council and industry issues management team. He led post-merger business integration activities for three major acquisitions. Bero was a member of a number of boards including serving as chairman of the American Chemistry Council’s responsible care committee and as a member of the International Council of Chemical Associations. Vincent J. Stricker was born and raised in Charleston, and graduated first in his class from WVU with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1981. He was awarded the College of Engineering’s Rufus A. West Award, and was president of Sphinx, the WVU Senior Class Honorary. Stricker has had a 35-year career in the chemical industry with Union Carbide, Dow Chemical and W.R. Grace. His currently serves as lead process engineering manager for W.R. Grace, directing engineering teams in the execution of UNIPOL polypropylene plant designs. He is W.R. Grace’s global subject matter expert for Distillation Design and Polypropylene Process Safety, and a registered professional engineer. Stricker has been instrumental in the development of several innovative technologies and he holds patents for Union Carbide’s oxidative methane coupling and Dow’s RENUVATM Seed Oil to Foam processes. He directed Dow’s corporate R&D economic team, prioritizing Dow’s research funding. Stricker has been a passionate supporter of the Department of Chemical Engineering for many years. He has been a lead recruiter/liaison to WVU since 1999, recruiting more than 50 WVU students, and acquiring corporate grants totaling more than $100,000 for the Department. He has been an active member of the Department’s Advisory Committee since 2007 and has served as speaker, panelist and judge for numerous events hosted by the Department. He has been widely recognized for his community service and has been a leading diabetes advocate in the state and nation since 1997. He founded the Bag of Hope program, and visits newly diagnosed families, and he is on the board of directors for Camp Kno-Koma, a diabetes camp in West Virginia. Stricker was also the head volleyball coach at Charleston Catholic High School for 10 years, winning back-to-back state championships, recording the second- and third-most wins in state history and being named finalist for National Coach of the Year in 2010. He is still active as a volleyball official. ENGINEERING

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Academy of Civil Engineers Ronald W. Eck served on the faculty in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at West Virginia University from 1975-2008, developing and teaching undergraduate and graduate courses and conducting research in the areas of traffic engineering, roadway design, pedestrian transportation, railroadhighway grade crossings and forensic engineering. He published and presented the results of his research in a variety of forums, and from 1991-2008, he was director of the West Virginia Local Technical Assistance Program. He retired from WVU in 2008 as professor emeritus of civil engineering. Eck, who earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in civil engineering from Clemson University and is a registered professional engineer in West Virginia, remains active professionally as a consultant and trainer and in technical committees of the Transportation Research Board and the Institute of Transportation Engineers. Christine S. Mayernik is vice president of Regional Oil and Gas Markets with Michael Baker International. She has responsibility for Michael Baker’s oil and gas market activity in the eastern U.S., primarily in the Marcellus and Utica shale areas. Prior to joining Michael Baker in 2002, Mayernik held roles in engineering, operations and customer service management for natural gas local distribution companies of the Consolidated Natural Gas System.


Mayernik earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from WVU in 1978. She later earned a master’s degree in the discipline from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Duquesne University. She is a member of the advisory committees for the Statler College and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She has served on numerous boards and has a passion for leadership development and regional advancement. Gilbert T. Seese, Jr.’s, engineering career spans 42 years. After completing his undergraduate degree and working in consulting for two years, he shifted focus to the power industry. Seese enrolled at West Virginia University and obtained a master’s degree in civil engineering, conducting research in the area of power plant ash utilization with an emphasis on geotechnical engineering. Following graduation in 1980, Seese joined Schnabel Engineering in Richmond, Virginia, and later became the principal engineer of Schnabel’s Newport News, Virginia, office. As branch leader, he managed the company’s two largest contracts for more than 10 years, bringing in more than $1 million in revenue annually for the firm. His team provided geotechnical and environmental engineering services and observation and testing services during construction for key clients such as the Virginia Port Authority, Newport News Shipbuilding, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, City of Newport News and York County. Seese serves on the advisory committee for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and is an adjunct faculty member teaching soil mechanics courses at J. Sargent Reynolds Community College in Richmond, Virginia.

Academy of Distinguished Alumni of Aerospace Engineering David Linger is the inaugural president and chief executive office of the University of Cincinnati Research Institute. Linger has more than 25 years of learning and success in bringing new technology and innovations to market through roles in engineering, product development, product management and business development. Between 2004 and 2013, Linger was the director of technology partnerships and commercialization at GE Aviation. Other GE roles included senior staff engineer, business development manager and marketing manager. In recognition for his leadership and passion for commercial partnerships and monetizing technology, he was awarded the 2008 GE Corporate IP Growth Award. Prior to 2004, Linger held executive positions with medical device companies such as Hill-Rom and Ferno-Washington. These roles focused on brand management, portfolio management and engineering leadership. Linger also served as vice president of product engineering for Cold Jet Inc., which pioneered and perfected dry ice blasting technology for precision and industrial cleaning. This technology was marketed globally to 37 different industries. After completing a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from WVU, Linger joined GE Aircraft Engines via the Edison Engineering Development program. The Advanced Course in Engineering soon followed and culminated with a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Cincinnati. In 2009, Linger completed an MBA in management and entrepreneurial studies from Xavier University and received a GE DFSS Black Belt in Six Sigma. He currently holds eight patents and has spoken at international conferences on the topic of open innovation. Francis Loth is the F. Theodore Harrington Endowed Chair and professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at University of Akron. He is the founder and executive director of the Conquer Chiari Research Center, which is the first basic science research center directed toward the study of Chiari malformation. In the four years since its opening, the CCRC has amassed a diverse and talented group of students and researchers. Multiple projects are under way to apply the latest engineering, biological and psychological techniques and analyses to improve diagnosis and treatment options for those suffering from Chiari malformation and related disorders. A native of Morgantown, Loth received his B.S. in aerospace engineering from West Virginia University in May 1984. After completing a master’s degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati, he spent a year in Brussels, Belgium, at the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics where he completed a diploma course. He shifted his research interests from aerodynamics to biofluids, and he obtained advanced degrees in mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech in 1990 and 1993, doing experimental research in the area of blood fluid dynamics and its relationship to vascular graft failure. He did his postdoctoral training at the University of Aix-Marseille in France and at Johns Hopkins University. Loth joined the mechanical engineering faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1996, where he continued his research in the area of biofluids, and specifically examined the importance of fluid dynamics in arteriovenous graft failure and Chiari I malformation. In 2008, he moved to the University of Akron. He is an ASME Fellow and served as vice chair and chair for the fluids committee of the ASME Bioengineering Division. During his career, he has obtained two awards for excellence in teaching, two awards for excellence in research, published 48 journal articles and organized six international workshops. WVU STATLER COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING AND MINERAL RESOURCES

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Academy of Distinguished Alumni of Mechanical Engineering

Academy of of the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Linda Moss is president of Pennsylvania operations of Met-Ed, Penelec and West Penn Power electric utility operating companies.

Mridul Gautam is the vice president for research and innovation and a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. He previously served as the associate vice president for research at West Virginia University, as well as the vice president for the WVU Research Corporation. He is an internationally recognized expert in the area of heavy-duty mobile source exhaust emissions; aerosol sampling; and particulate matter measurement, characterization and control. Gautam has more than 27 years of experience in initiating and managing large interdisciplinary and multi-institutional programs. His areas of specialization are the characterization and control of combustion generated emissions, heavy-duty engines and experimental multiphase flows with a particular emphasis on ultrafine and nanoparticles. Gautam has served as the principal investigator on more than $27 million in funding, and as a P.I. and/ or co-principal investigator on more than $80 million in funded research. He has published more than 400 technical articles including refereed journal articles, symposia/published proceedings and published abstracts of papers presented at professional meetings. In addition to a licensing agreement to his credit, he has been a recipient of the Outstanding Aerosol Paper Award through the American Industrial Hygiene Association and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, the Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award through the Society of Automotive Engineers and several Outstanding Researcher of the Year awards at WVU. He serves on several national and state advisory committees and on various boards of directors. Gautam received his doctorate in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University in 1989 and his master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, in 1984.

In 2013, Moss was named regional president of Toledo Edison, one of FirstEnergy’s 10 regulated distribution companies. She was named director of operations support at Potomac Edison in 2011 after the merger of Allegheny Energy and FirstEnergy. Moss was named to her current position in February 2015. Moss started her career with Potomac Edison in Maryland more than 28 years ago. She served in various corporate and field distribution engineering and operations management positions, and from 2008 to 2010, she served as project manager for the construction of a new, $50 million transmission headquarters in Fairmont. The stateof-the-art facility oversees operations of the company’s transmission network for parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia. Moss earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in business administration from West Virginia University. She currently serves on the boards of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the Team PA Foundation and is a member of the Pennsylvania Business Policy Roundtable. She was the recipient of the Athena Award in Toledo, Ohio, in 2015, which supports, develops and honors women leaders who help other women achieve their full potential. Moss is also actively working as a co-sponsor of a new chapter of Young Professionals for FirstEnergy employees in the Pittsburgh area. David Pulling serves as the chief executive officer at Qolsys, Inc., a venture capital startup with approximately 80 employees. Qolsys has a product line that focuses on home automation and security. Prior to joining NetXen, Inc., Pulling was an executive vice president of ServerWorks, where he was responsible for sales and marketing activities. As a founding member of the ServerWorks’ team, he grew its server chipset business, with a market share of 90 percent, and played a key role in the sale of ServerWorks to Broadcom. Prior to ServerWorks, he held a number of executive management positions at Ross Technology. As vice president of strategic marketing, he was instrumental in taking Ross Technology public in 1995. After earning his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1986 from West Virginia University, he began his career at Texas Instruments. He later went on to complete an MBA from the University of Dallas in 1989. Pulling has returned a number of times to WVU to meet and speak with students, and Qolsys has supported the WVU Solar Decathlon team in the area of home automation.

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Alumni News of Note

Before enrolling at West Virginia University, Kerri Knotts didn’t know what engineers did. Finding the answer to that question was the key to a successful career as a project manager, flight controller and now chief executive officer. Read how Knotts’s mix of journalism and engineering knowledge worked to her advantage online at http://bit.ly/1oahVEX

A tire reuse technology, confined aggregate concrete, recently won the first American Society of Civil Engineers Grand Challenge Infrastructure Innovation Contest for most feasible green engineering idea. Sold as mechanical concrete, confined aggregate concrete and is a geosynthetic technology that confines any crushed stone or aggregate material inside of a thin-walled cylinder. This confinement dramatically improves the load supporting capacity of the stone. It reuses one of society’s most high-quality industrial products: used/ waste automotive tires. The product was discovered by Samuel G. Bonasso, PE, a Fellow of ASCE and president of the Reinforced Aggregates Company. Bonasso earned his master’s degree in civil engineering from WVU in 1964 and is a member of its Academy of Civil Engineers.

David B. Doman, a principal aerospace engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory and the director of the Control Science Center in the Aerospace Systems Directorate, was presented with a WVU Honorary Degree, Doctor of Science, during Potomac State College of West Virginia University’s 2016 Commencement, which was held Saturday, May 7. Doman graduated from PSC and transferred to WVU, where he graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering in 1991 and received the WVU College of Engineering Rufus A. West Award. For more information: http://bit.ly/1sgREH4

Since he was a boy, Alan Didion knew he controlled his own destiny. When he decided that destiny involved working in the space industry, he came to West Virginia University. “I have always had this dream of being able to do things that have never been done before,” said Didion. “I knew if I wanted to make a mark on this world other than a carbon footprint, I needed to rally my ambition, never accept anything but the best and get an engineering degree.” Read more on how he turned multiple internship opportunities into a full-time job with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, online at http://bit.ly/1Tf44HL

In Memoriam Parker Baranowski, 20, of Baker, passed away on June 16, as the result of a motor vehicle accident. Born in Winchester, Virginia, he was a senior in the Statler College majoring in electrical engineering. He was a member of the newly revived WVU Amateur Radio Club, serving as its secretary, and he also worked at the Mountainlair in the bowling alley. In his spare time, he liked to work on pocket watches, jewelry and clocks. He is survived by his parents, Carl and Pamela,his sister, Kayla, and his brother, Kyle. H. Dotson Cather, 88, of Clarksburg, died April 2, at his home. Born in Morgantown, Cather earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from WVU in 1949 and 1954, respectively, and was a member of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honorary. He did additional graduate study at the University of Maryland, Catholic University and Ohio State University. A veteran of the Korean War, Cather served as project engineer and staff officer in the U.S. Air Force. As an engineer, he was employed by the Esso Standard Oil Co., General Electric Co. and Union Carbide and Carbon. He taught engineering at the University of Maryland and Fairmont State University and was a consultant to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps research laboratories in the Washington, D.C., area. He is survived by his wife, Emily, a son and two daughters. Victor J. DeAntonis, 95, of Vancouver, Washington, passed away on January 29. A native of Masontown, he grew up in Morgantown, enrolled in ROTC and graduated from WVU in 1941 as a second lieutenant with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. After serving as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in World War II, he worked at ALCOA as a division electrical engineer, retiring in 1983. He is survived by three children, five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Michael Steven Marcus, 22, of Charleston, passed away on July 29. A senior majoring in industrial engineering in the Statler College, he was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity and was an avid Mountaineer football fan. He is survived by his parents, Nancy and Steve, and his twin sister, Erica. Philip R. Merrill, 89, of Punta Gorda, Florida, passed away September 15, 2015. Merrill, who earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from WVU in 1955, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Korean Conflict and was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. He is survived by his wife, Marty, a daughter and a son.

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STATLER COLLEGE AND WVU ALUMNI ASSOCIATION RECEIVE MAJOR DONATIONS BY ALLYSON CANNON

The Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources and WVU Alumni Association have received major gift donations totaling $500,000 from The Thrasher Group, a leading engineering firm, headquartered in Clarksburg. The amount, which will be evenly split between the College and the Association, lends support in the construction of Statler College’s Advanced Engineering Research Building and the naming of the Erickson Alumni Center Courtyard as the Thrasher Courtyard. Statler College Dean Gene Cilento said these funds continue to benefit the educational demands of WVU students. “On behalf of everyone in the Statler College, I would like to thank The Thrasher Group for its generous contribution

Sean Frisbee, president of the WVU Alumni Association, said the generous donation lends a tremendous opportunity in making a difference for the University. “This gift from The Thrasher Group impacts so many of our loyal alumni,” Frisbee said. “By receiving this generous donation, the Erickson Alumni Center can continue its efforts to engage alumni across all networks through quality programming, mentorship and support of our students. We are so thankful for this contribution.” The Thrasher Group, established in 1983, is a civil engineering firm that focuses in site development, architecture, and utility infrastructure in the Mid-Atlantic region. With a commitment to building business through

“The Thrasher Group wouldn’t be as successful today if it weren’t for the outstanding educators and alumni of the Statler College.” in support of the construction of the new Advanced Engineering Research Building,” said Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean. “This is just the latest in a long line of gifts the College has received from them, many of which have gone toward supporting the educational mission of our students. These gifts have gone to help a number of our student project teams, most notably in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “This gift will help ensure future generations of Statler College students have access to state-of-the art facilities to solve the technical problems of today and tomorrow.” Officially opened in 2015, the Advanced Engineering Research Building added 63,000 square feet of flexible and environmentally safe laboratory and research space to the Statler College, as well as an 8,000 square foot clean room to meet the needs of high-technology learning and discovery in the new millennium. Offices, classrooms, a learning center and space for graduate students occupy 29,000 square feet of the building.

“successful projects and repeat clientele,” H. Wood “Woody” Thrasher, PE, has grown the company to employ more 300 people throughout several office locations. Thrasher, says the gift represents affinity to both institutions at the University. “The Thrasher Group wouldn’t be as successful today if it weren’t for the outstanding educators and alumni of the Statler College. A large part of what makes our company what it is today are the opportunities and doors that have opened being active members of the Alumni Association and the development of the College,” said Thrasher. “It is extremely important to us to give back to the University, so that we can further the ties of current students and alumni at West Virginia University.” This contribution adds to the ongoing State of Minds Campaign for West Virginia University.

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INVESTMENT COMPANY ENDOWS GIFT IN HONOR OF LATE WVU FACULTY MENTOR BY MARY C. DILLON

When West Virginia University alumnus Preston Wu Shyon Chen received his honorary doctorate this past spring, he credited his mentor, the late Chin-Yung Wen, with helping him find the drive to succeed. Wen, who like Chen hailed from Taiwan, served as chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering at WVU from 1970-1981. “When I thought that I could not make it here in the United States, it was Professor Wen who ensured that I had the financial scholarship necessary for me to stay in school,” Chen said. “It was him who brought me to West Virginia. And it was him who encouraged me to work hard, stay focused and be better than what I had ever been before. “He was tough, but he was fair,” Chen continued. “We worked seven days a week. No football games or fraternity parties for us. But it is because of him that I am here today, nearly two generations later, receiving this incredible honor. It takes pioneers and leaders like Professor Wen, and I am proud to be associated with West Virginia University, which has so many of them.” In honor of that association, an investment company associated with Chen—Hung I Investments Co. Ltd.—has created the Professor Chin-Yung Wen Chemical Engineering Opportunity Fund. Monies from the $150,000 endowment may be used to support events and activities to memorialize and honor Wen, and may include holding distinguished lectures on cutting-edge chemical engineering research, providing scholarships to deserving students or supporting departmental ambassadors to assist international students acclimate to WVU. According to Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources and professor of chemical engineering, Wen is somewhat of a legend at WVU, having joined the faculty in 1954. “I have fond memories of Professor Wen, who was department chair when I was hired,” Cilento said. “He was a quiet man who led by example. He was quite an inspiration to me as a new faculty member and I am forever grateful for all he taught me. He was an internationally recognized scholar for his technical contributions in fluidization that led to many industrial advances in this field. This gift from Hung I Investments Co. Ltd. shows the admiration that persists for Professor Wen 35 years after his passing.” After earning his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from National Taiwan University, Chen headed to WVU, where he received a master’s in the discipline in 1968, conducting research on the optimization of fixed bed methanation processes.

THRASHER

Chen founded 15 chemical companies. They include the flagship corporation Ho Tung Chemical Corp., which produces normal paraffin and linear alkyl benzene for use in chlorinated waxes, solvents and cleaning agents. In the early 1990s, Chen established the Jintung Chemical Corporation in China, which was the first and largest joint venture company between a Taiwanese Petrochemical Company and Sinopec at the time. Jintung spawned 20 companies that specialize in fine chemicals and detergents. In 2001, Chen founded Vita Genomics, Inc., in Taipei, Taiwan, a genomics-based biotechnological and biopharmaceutical company that focuses on conducting pharmacogenomics research. PHOTO J. PAIGE NESBIT

“Professor Wen attracted and inspired a large number of graduate and postdoctoral students from all over the world, but especially from Taiwan and Japan,” said Rakesh Gupta, the George and Carolyn Berry Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering. “These students went on to distinguish themselves in both academia and industry, and they return to WVU periodically to respect the memory of Professor Wen.”

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Non-Profit Organization US Postage PAID Morgantown, WV Permit No. 34

ENGINEERING WEST WestVIRGINIA VirginiaUNIVERSITY University Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources PO Box 6070, Morgantown, WV 26506-6070 ®

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CONGRATULATIONS FIRST OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST OF THE RIO GAMES

GINNY THRASHER SOPHOMORE, BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING

AND TWO-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST OF THE RIO GAMES

ALUMNUS, INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING

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PHOTO BRIAN PERSINGER

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EngineeringWV Fall 2016 Magazine  

West Virginia University's Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources 2016 fall magazine featuring the "The Changing F...

EngineeringWV Fall 2016 Magazine  

West Virginia University's Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources 2016 fall magazine featuring the "The Changing F...

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