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Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

volume 12 issue 1

spring 2016



| volume 12 issue 1

Spring 2016


Cover Story



Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions

applied research , DEVELOPMENT AND TESTING Table of contents


John Hu named first Statler Chair in Energy


Statler College ranked 15th in nation for value


WVU researchers team with NETL, Schneider Electric to win top technology award


COVER STORY: Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions

Applied Research, Development and Testing

34 46



41 Dean / Eugene V. Cilento gene.cilento@mail.wvu.edu / 304.293.4157 Director, Marketing and Communications Mary C. Dillon / mary.dillon@mail.wvu.edu Design Coordinator, Marketing and Communications J. Paige Nesbit

Klinkhachorn named West Virginia’s Professor of the year

Contributing Writers / Bernadette Dombrowski / Marissa Sura

Campriani targets victory

Change of Address WVU Foundation / PO Box 1650 Morgantown, WV 26504-1650 Fax: 304.284.4001 / e-mail: info@wvuf.org www.mountaineerconnection.com


Photography / Nigel Clark / Greg Ellis / J. Paige Nesbit / Brian Persinger Address West Virginia University / Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources PO Box 6070 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6070 www.statler.wvu.edu


WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


Message from the dean

Friday, September 18, 2015, was a typical Friday in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. I was spending what remained of my afternoon answering emails and phone calls after a series of meetings that took me out of the office earlier that day.

One of those emails quickly turned the day atypical. The email contained a link to a story on a national news website that announced that the Environmental Protection Agency had found that Volkswagen intentionally violated the Clean Air Act by using sophisticated software in its diesel-powered cars that detects emissions testing and “turns full emissions controls on only during the test.” While the report raised eyebrows around the world, it was information that was buried deep in the story that caught the attention of everyone at West Virginia University: The cars were first found to produce too much nitrogen oxide, or NOx, by researchers at West Virginia University who were working with the International Council on Clean Transportation, the EPA says. After the WVU analysis found irregular NOx levels in diesel Volkswagens, the EPA and the California Air Resources Board took up their own study. What followed was a juggernaut of media attention focused squarely on the research team from CAFEE: the Statler College’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions. Dan Carder, director of the Center; Arvind Thiruvengadam, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; Greg Thompson, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; Marc Besch, research assistant for CAFEE; and Hemanth Kappana, who received his Ph.D. from WVU and now works in private industry, spent countless hours on the telephone, in front of the camera and on the radio answering media inquiries that came from around the world.

In short: one of WVU’s best-kept secrets was now worldwide news. The interesting part for me as dean is the fact that WVU is not new to ground-breaking emissions research. The team at CAFEE helped create the first technology to measure vehicle emissions on the road more than 15 years ago. In its 27 years of existence, the faculty, students and research team members that have come through its garage doors and research labs have conducted high-level research for heavy-duty engine manufacturers, fuel suppliers and many light-duty vehicle manufacturers. You would be hard pressed to walk into one of these manufacturers or suppliers and not find a WVU alum from CAFEE on its rolls. This is just the latest chapter in the CAFEE story. Thanks to significant investment from the University, CAFEE has begun to expand its research facilities. Part of that expansion will include a focus on in-use emissions testing for industry in a new, off-campus facility. We plan to engage industry leaders from all transportation sectors in an effort to position CAFEE as a trusted, unbiased partner of both industry and government. The successes of the past year give us much to build on. I look forward to sharing our progress with you in the months to come.

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

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.

mission The Statler College mission is to prepare students for success in their professional careers; to contribute to the advancement of society through learning, discovery, extension and service; and to stimulate economic well-being in West Virginia and the world through technical innovation, knowledge creation and educational excellence.

photo: M.G. Ellis

Copyright Š2016 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.

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


college news

John Hu named first Statler Chair in Energy By Mary C. Dillon

One of the provisions in the historic $45-million gift made to West Virginia University by Ben and Jo Statler called for the establishment of three endowed faculty positions in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. The first of these positions has been filled. John Hu, an experienced scientist and engineer with a proven track record of inventing, developing and commercializing innovative chemical processes associated with the oil and gas industries, has been named the Statler Endowed Faculty Chair in Engineering for Natural Gas Utilization. Hu will lead the creation of an interdisciplinary research center related to natural gas utilization, which is a strategic area of investment for WVU. The center will operate within the WVU Energy Institute. “This position appealed to me because of WVU’s commitment to fostering leading-edge education and research that spans all aspects of the energy cycle, from production to distribution, to utilization and conservation and management,” said Hu. “At WVU, I plan to focus not only on academic research and education but also on leading industrial-university partnerships, and developing intellectual properties that benefit the University and the state’s economy.” Hu comes to WVU from Koch Industries, where he was charged with identifying future technological growth areas related to petrochemicals and catalytic and biological processing, and developing research and development strategies for commercialization. He also supervised industrialfunded research at U.S.-based universities, national laboratories and R&D institutes. Before joining the team at Koch, Hu served as an R&D manager at Black & Veatch Corporation, where he led interdisciplinary teams charged with commercializing oil, gas and chemical technologies. In the late 1990s, he served as a lead refinery engineer for BP Oil, responsible for refining process optimization.



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Hu spent eight years working as a research manager for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. He led multidisciplinary teams in the execution of federally funded research programs and industrial collaborative projects and has garnered 24 U.S. patents and more than 75 peer-reviewed journal and conference papers. “Dr. Hu brings excellent experience from his industry and the national labs positions, and the right blend of technical expertise and leadership we sought for this first Statler Chair,” said Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean. “Dr. Hu will help the University make important contributions to the utilization of natural gas that will promote and support economic development for the state of West Virginia.” Hu received his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Tsinghua University in China, and did his post-doctoral research at the University of Pittsburgh. He later earned an MBA from Washington State University. A third-generation coal miner, Ben Statler received his bachelor’s degree in mining engineering from WVU in 1973. While attending WVU, he began his career at CONSOL Energy, working as a laborer. For 30 years, he held various positions at CONSOL Energy before starting his own mining company, PinnOak Resources LLC. Statler served as president and CEO of PinnOak until he sold the company in 2007. Currently, Statler is co-founder and CEO of Gulf Coast Capital Partners. Over the years, the Statlers have supported many WVU initiatives including programs at WVU’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, the Erickson Alumni Center, the Basketball Practice Facility and other athletic-related capital improvements. The direct impact of their lifetime of support to WVU is nearly $60 million.

Spring 2016


Photo: M.G. Ellis

WVU opens new Advanced Engineering Research Building A building that was “designed to complement and expand upon the existing expertise and capabilities of the engineering facilities we now have” officially opened October 1, on West Virginia University’s Evansdale campus. The Advanced Engineering Research Building features learning spaces and laboratories where students and faculty from all disciplines can “come together to solve the technical problems of today and tomorrow,” said Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. “In short, you will see the future of engineering.” Designed by Burt Hill/Stantec and constructed by Massaro Corporation, AERB features 63,000 square feet of flexible and environmentally safe laboratory and research space for 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. “To the leadership of West Virginia University – E. Gordon Gee, Joyce McConnell and members of the Board of Governors: you had a vision for the Evansdale campus,” Cilento said. “Today, one more piece of that puzzle is complete. We are delighted to be a part of this important transformation.” President Gee noted the facility is more than just a brick and mortar structure, calling it a sanctuary for ideas and innovations that will fuel the future of West Virginia University.

“Students and faculty from across all disciplines will unite under this one roof to solve the problems of our day,” Gee continued. “Problems ranging from energy, security, water, science, technology, the list goes on. This facility fits perfectly into our land-grant mission, because the research conducted within these walls will benefit a greater good.” Statler College advisory committee chair Dianne Anderson concurred, noting WVU has a tradition of greatness that can only grow in this new facility. “Engineering anywhere is a very expensive program to run,” Anderson said. “To gain the trust from the investors that backed this building gives these students what they really must have to graduate: the fundamentals and maximum experience from their education in advanced classrooms.” Remembering a story shared by his father, Thirimachos Bourlai, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering, compared the faculty/student relationship to the ancient Greek story of Diagoras of Rhodes. “We, as faculty, are like Diagoras, and our students are like his two sons,” Bourlai said. “We need to be working hard with our students to prepare them for the real world. To work with them while being respectful, understanding and patient as they are to us. “I am so proud to have worked with so many students – as teacher and mentor but also as one who learns from them,” said Bourlai. “I have tried my best to be caring, dedicated and supportive to all students I have worked with and this has been the philosophy that helped me achieve better collaborations, and play a small part in the continuous growth and prosperity of this college.” Those collaborations are already apparent to graduate student John Lucas, who noted that AERB “provides another area for students to go study and meet between classes as well as perform important research.”

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


college news

Software Engineering program ranked 30th in U.S. News rankings

Statler College ranked 15th in nation for value

For the first time, West Virginia University’s online graduate program in software engineering has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

For the second straight year, Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources has been ranked in the top 20 of all engineering schools in the country for offering the best value for the money for undergraduate degree programs in engineering, according to rankings released by College Factual, an online guide to the college selection process.

The program was ranked 30th. The software engineering program began in 1997 as an extended learning program for working professionals in north-central West Virginia’s High Technology Corridor. The program, which went entirely online in 2008, currently enrolls students from more than 15 states, with nearly half of its students coming from out of state. Dale Dzielski, program coordinator, points to several recent improvements for the program’s success. “Quality Matters, a national online certification for courses, was adopted by all West Virginia Online Programs in 2014,” Dzielski said. “With support from Academic Innovation, we have worked aggressively to make changes to our courses to certify them in this program. “Our courses were entirely synchronous, taught live in the evening using an online tool, but due to student demand and online industry trends we have moved toward a hybrid class format that includes a blend of multimedia and online class work with synchronous ‘live’ interaction between other students and the instructor,” Dzielski added. Brian Woerner, chair of the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, credits Dzielski and Professor Katerina Goseva-Popstojanova with playing key roles in the program’s success. “Dale and Katerina have implemented program improvements and developed new course offerings in areas such as computer security and data analytics, which are key factors in this recognition,” said Woerner. “Our graduates are being trained in the some of the areas that are in highest demand by industry.” “I am delighted to see the efforts of our faculty and staff in the Lane Department recognized by U.S. News,” said Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the College. “The development path taken and the changes made by software engineering in recent years serves the needs of an important professional community and will serve as a road map for the College as we look to take other graduate programs online in the years to come.”



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The College ranked 15th out of 283 engineering schools for offering a “quality education … for a price that won’t break the bank.” It was also ranked as the 46th most popular school in the nation for engineering and near the top third overall in the site’s rankings of engineering schools that provide graduates with a quality education. “Families want to make sure they are getting the most for their hard-earned money,” said Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College. “West Virginia University has worked hard to keep educational costs low without jeopardizing quality, and it’s gratifying to see us be recognized for those efforts.” The College’s industrial engineering program was ranked eighth for best value, while its computer engineering program was ranked 19th. Also ranked in the top 50 were chemical engineering (37), civil engineering (31), electrical engineering (47) and mechanical engineering (34). College Factual considers a number of outcomesbased factors to determine the ranking, including average student loan debt, student retention and graduation rates and graduates’ starting salaries and earning potential.

WVU earns renewed funding for Manufacturing Extension Partnership

For 18 years, West Virginia University has led the state’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, providing consulting services to help manufacturers innovate, compete and grow. That work will continue for the next five years, thanks to $2.5 million in funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership. WVU was one of nine organizations to receive funding to operate an MEP center in their respective state. “During the past five-year period, the WVMEP delivered 720 assistance projects to more than 200 manufacturing clients, resulting in $33 million in new sales and $139 million in retained sales,” said Gerald Biser, associate director of industrial extension at WVU. “Our work created and retained more than 1,600 jobs in the state. “I’m thrilled that, due to renewed funding, we will be able to continue our efforts that lead our clients toward a more competitive position domestically and globally and result in a more robust manufacturing environment in West Virginia.” According to the U.S. Census, West Virginia has 1,248 manufacturers. Of those companies, 85 percent have fewer than 50 employees. “The WVMEP has served clients in small- to medium-size markets across many industry segments,” Biser said. “Our extensive team, which includes Extension agents, management staff, third-party resources, state and university partners, advisory committee members and key state organizations, are committed to improving and growing manufacturing in West Virginia.” Potential growth areas according to Biser included innovation services, export training and development and business transformation services. For every dollar of federal investment, MEP clients generate nearly $19 in new sales, which translates into $2.5 billion annually. And for every $2,001 of federal investment, MEP creates or retains one U.S. manufacturing job. Since 1988, MEP has worked with nearly 80,000 manufacturers, leading to $88 billion in sales and $14 billion in cost savings, and it has helped create more than 729,000 jobs. Proposals were reviewed by government and independent experts and evaluated against a number of criteria, including demonstration of a thorough understanding of market needs and how proposed service offerings would meet those needs. The reviewers looked at proposed business models, performance measurements and metrics, partnership potential, staff qualifications and program management, as well as financial and non-federal costshare plans.

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


college news

WVU hosts first regional workshop on Big Data, cybersecurity By Mary C. Dillon

Office of Personnel Management. JPMorgan Chase. Internal Revenue Service. These are but three of the growing number of organizations that have fallen victim to cyberattacks in recent years. In 2014 alone, more than one billion personal records were illegally accessed – including health, financial, email and home address data, and other personal information like Social Security numbers. A study by IBM found the average consolidated total cost of a data breach is $3.8 million, representing a 23 percent increase since 2013. Increasingly, organizations are turning to Big Data analytics tools, which combine machine learning, text mining and conceptual modeling, as the first line of defense against future attacks. A workshop hosted by West Virginia University brought together experts in Big Data and cybersecurity to address the research and workforce development needs of the region. According to Brian Woerner, chair of the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at WVU, the workshop, which included representatives from Marshall University, Shepherd University, the University of Charleston, Potomac State College of WVU and Indiana University of Pennsylvania, grew out of an earlier meeting that was held at the Allegany Ballistics Lab in Rocket Center. The ABL University Consortium Summit was coordinated by Dextera Corporation, which provides professional services to government customers and contractors. ABL is owned by the Naval Sea Command, or NAVSEA, and is home to several organizations that are involved in the management, processing and archiving of data, including a rapidly growing IBM presence. It is also home to an Innovative Solution Center for Watson, IBM’s cloud-based cognitive platform.

Managing large sets of information, using that information to make decisions and protecting the security of that information is a core function of an increasing number of commercial and government organizations in West Virginia. Woerner noted that the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Systems, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA’s Independent Verification and Validation unit and the Green Bank National Observatory and their commercial contractors all deal with large sets of data. EWV

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Spring 2016

“This relationship is important to the West Virginia National Guard because we are trying to grow our own cyber workforce,” said Major Jody Ogle. “We are seeking strategic partnerships with educational institutions as well as governmental partners. We have a keen interest in the way that our current and future members are educated in that there is a direct impact on our ability to employ their skills.” “This event and future collaboration events are important to our client, NAVSEA, and Dextera because this will help establish a network of team members necessary to solve problems in support of the Department of Defense’s mission,” said Dave Porter, business consultant, NAVSEA support, Dextera Corporation. “The goal is to establish a public/private partnership that leverages academia, private industry and federal government partners, which team to provide solutions to DoD’s real-world Big Data and cybersecurity issues.” “In our technology-driven world, data is being analyzed to make numerous business decisions, and Big Data technologies play a central role,” said Stephanie Beck Roth, assistant professor of mathematics at PSC. “Job seekers who are capable of manipulating, understanding and analyzing this data are in high demand. We view this consortium as an excellent venue to support the development of new student educational programs at PSC as well as an opportunity for faculty to collaborate and support the needs of other organizations in our region.” IBM has participated in the ABL University Consortium initiative since its inception and brings expertise in Big Data and cybersecurity.

“ABL brought together a broad section of regional universities to share their capabilities for supporting workforce development and collaborative engagement in the emerging fields of Big Data and cybersecurity,” Woerner said. “After listening to the capabilities of the various universities from around this region that attended, it became apparent that we could better address these needs by working in collaboration.”


“Training workers and providing cutting-edge research will be crucial to growing this new industry in the Mountain State,” Woerner said.

“IBM will continue to engage with the workshop participants to identify areas for potential collaboration to advance the Big Data and cybersecurity capabilities in support of the DoD mission,” said Timi Hadra, ABL facility leader for IBM Global Business Services. Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, noted that next steps for the group would be to develop collaborative research proposals to seek external funding sources for this work and for academic programs that meet industry needs for workforce development, degree programs and leading-edge research and development. “We see this as the start of a major, collaborative effort, which WVU will lead and expand upon in the coming year,” Cilento said.


Watts Museum exhibition focuses on impact of petroleum industry From the expansion of America’s highways to the oil embargoes of the 1970s, West Virginia’s petroleum and petroleum byproducts industries have played key roles in the state’s industrial and economic development. A new exhibition at West Virginia University’s Watts Museum explores that history. “A Byproduct of Change” explores how these developments had lasting impacts on the local petroleum industry and West Virginia’s economy. The exhibition is a follow-up to a 2010 exhibition at the Museum on the origin and development of West Virginia’s oil industry in the 19th century. Advancements in petroleum processing led to the production of new types of oil and chemical byproducts of oil, which could be put to use for new purposes. The development of petrochemicals, synthetic fibers and other petroleum byproducts changed the way Americans live their lives. During World War I, for example, the Kanawha Valley became a hub of the chemical industry. Explosives manufacturers, who were attracted to the area by its abundance of natural resources, set up factories to produce ammunition for war in places like Nitro. In the 1940s and 50s, the Union Carbide Technical Center in “Chemical Valley” was one of the country’s

Photo: B. Persinger

leading research centers, developing more than 30,000 patents. Over half of the 500 most widely used chemicals were invented or commercialized there. “The cultural changes that have come about as a result of the petroleum industry’s development have impacted our lives in nearly every way imaginable – our technology and transportation, our manmade and natural environment and our health and daily habits,” said Danielle Petrak, Museum curator. “It’s hard to imagine living a single day without the plastics, gasoline and chemicals that we’ve become dependent on.” “A Byproduct of Change” is on view through July 2016 and is available to travel to other venues throughout West Virginia after its installation at the Museum. The Watts Museum is located in Room 125 of the Mineral Resources Building on the Evansdale campus of WVU. The Museum is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 1-4 p.m., and by appointment. For more information, contact the museum at 304-293-4609 or wattsmuseum@mail.wvu.edu.

Team from Wheeling Catholic Central High School wins 28th annual WVU Pumpkin Drop On a day that saw 75 pumpkins survive the 11-story drop from atop WVU’s Engineering Sciences Building, it was team no. 275 from Wheeling Catholic Central that took top honors. Their pumpkin landed just three-foot, seven-inches from the target, earning them the $100 first prize.

From left: Nanci Twardowski and Marla Werner with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Morgantown accept a check for $3,000 from Daniel Lund, president of the WVU Student Chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and John Kernan, ASME secretary.

Second place was claimed by team 332 from Triadelphia Area Rapid Descent Impact Solutions. Their pumpkin – “Slute to Webster Springs” – landed fourfoot, two-inches from the target, earning them the $50 runner-up check. Team 224 from South Middle School in Morgantown finished third, with their pumpkin landing four-foot, three-inches from the target. The team was awarded $25. The event raised $3,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Morgantown.

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


research news

WVU researchers team with NETL, Schneider Electric to win top technology award By Mary C. Dillon

Researchers from West Virginia University, the National Energy Technology Laboratory and Schneider Electric have won an R&D 100 Award – a national award known as the “Oscar of innovation” – for the development of a virtual reality-based software that provides the energy industry with an unprecedented high-tech look inside the operation of power plants. The R&D 100 awards, given annually by R&D Magazine, celebrate the top technology products of the year. For the first time in 2015, the 100 winners were chosen from across five categories: Analytical Test, IT/Electrical, Mechanical Devices/Materials, Process/Prototyping and Software/Services. The WVU-NETL-Schneider Electric entry was chosen in the Software/ Service category. The team from Schneider Electric created EYESIM, a three-dimensional, immersive, virtual reality software technology that gives engineers and operators of energy plants a clearer vision of conditions inside plant equipment while in operation so that more-informed efficiency and safety decisions can be made faster and more effectively, saving time and money. Chemical engineering faculty members Richard Turton, WVU Bolton Professor, and Debangsu Bhattacharyya teamed with Stephen Zitney and other researchers from NETL in testing and applying EYESIM in the development of a three-dimensional virtual model of an integrated gasification combined cycle power plant with carbon dioxide capture. The EYESIM-based IGCC simulation is part of the Advanced Virtual Energy Simulation Training and Research – or AVESTAR – Center, which is housed at the National Resource Center for Coal and Energy at WVU. The simulator is designed to teach power plant personnel how to operate an integrated gasification combined cycle, or IGCC, power plant complete with carbon capture capability. Turton, Bhattacharyya and Zitney provided technical guidance to Schneider Electric, which markets the software. According to Turton, “Much of the design documentation and its application to IGCC plants was developed by NETL and WVU. We also reviewed the engineering files and the plant models developed in the 3-D virtual simulator.”

“EYESIM delivers easy-to-use, immersive and highly interactive virtual plant environments.” “EYESIM delivers easy-to-use, immersive and highly interactive virtual plant environments,” Zitney said. “It is an innovation that can help the fossil and renewable energy industries improve the safe, efficient and reliable operation of highly integrated plants that cost tens of millions of dollars annually to operate and maintain.”



Users of the new product include plant control room, field and maintenance operators, as well as engineers and managers from electric utilities, fossil energy producers, renewable energy companies, engineering and construction firms and equipment vendors. While initially developed for use with IGCC plants, Turton noted that the software is applicable to any type of chemical or power plant. EYESIM joins a long list of impressive technologies that have received R&D 100 Awards and gone on to become household names. Past products bearing this distinction include the flashcube (1965), the automated teller machine (1973), the halogen lamp (1974), the fax machine (1975), the liquid crystal display (1980), the Kodak Photo CD (1991), the Nicoderm anti-smoking patch (1992), Taxol anticancer drug (1993), lab on a chip (1996) and HDTV (1998).



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Researchers developing “peeland-stick” wireless sensors for energy system components A team of researchers from the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources are working to create a “peel-and-stick” wireless sensor system that can monitor the temperature and health of energy system components. Mechanical and aerospace engineering faculty members Edward Sabolsky and Kostantinos Sierros and Daryl Reynolds with the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering have received nearly $400,000 from the Department of

“We plan to develop a peel-and-stick transfer process, which has not been done previously in this manner, to easily attach the entire sensor circuit to various energy system components, such as solidoxide fuel cells, chemical reactors and furnaces,” Sabolsky said. Sabolsky has spent a large portion of his career researching advanced ceramic processing and materials for energy-related applications. He leads the Multi-functional and Energy Ceramics Group at

“We plan to develop a peel-and-stick transfer process, which has not been done previously in this manner, to easily attach the entire sensor circuit to various energy system components.” Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory’s University Coal Research Program to develop a wireless, high-temperature sensor system for monitoring the energy system components between 500 and 1,700 degrees Celsius to aid in process control. The system will be composed of conductive ceramic materials. The benefit of the material, according to Sabolsky, who leads the project team, is its ability to withstanding the harsh environments of fossil energy-based technologies. The technology could be used to monitor the processing conditions and health of the refractory in applications such as coal gasifiers, gas turbines, steel and glass melters, coal boilers and solid-oxide fuel cell stacks.



WVU as well as the Statler College’s interdisciplinary graduate programs in materials science and engineering. Sierros’ current research is focused on the design, development and characterization of optoelectronic devices for sustainable applications. Applications include energy harvesting, biodegradable electronics and contact-based sensors.


A member of WVU’s Wireless Communications Research Laboratory, Reynolds has done extensive work in wireless communications. He conducts research in communication and information theory and statistical signal processing. Research collaborators include Nexceris, LLC and GE Global Research.

Researchers will investigate advanced manufacturing methods for sensor element fabrication.

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


research news

Barth tests next step in innovative bridge technology By Mary C. Dillon

Photo: J.P. Nesbit

Most people don’t think of bridges as being portable or modular but Karl Barth isn’t most people. Barth, Samples Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has spent most of his career working to improve bridge infrastructure and develop design innovations. His newest innovation features an innovative concrete joint that can be filled with ultra-high-performance concrete, or UHPC. “Imagine a full bridge having four girders and three joints in between the modular units,” said Barth. “A joint similar to what we are researching in our lab would be poured between the girders. These joints are each being cast as individual modular girder units. In practice, these would then be shipped to a bridge site and erected individually.” Barth came up with the unique design in consultation with the American Iron and Steel Institute and Lafarge Ductal, a Canadian company that produces the ultra-high-performance concrete. “The design came about through a technical working group within the AISI Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance,” Barth said. “We tested the individual girder units and found that they were very robust. The UHPC joint has been used effectively in other modular systems, so we worked



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with the Federal Highway Administration to utilize a joint similar to what they have researched and implemented it with our girder.”

site in a controlled environment, which usually yields a better product than if they are pieced together in the field.

While a successful test pour occurred recently in Morgantown, the actual implementation of the joint won’t happen until mid-2016. When it does occur, however, it will happen in West Virginia first in conjunction with the state’s Department of Highways.

Barth, who estimates that more than 1,000 bridges in West Virginia could be a fit for this technology, noted that no one has fully researched the behavior of these prefabricated bridge elements and systems.

“We will construct four bridges – two near WVU and two near Huntington – featuring this and other innovative technologies,” said Barth, who noted that WVDOH is supporting the development of the technology with more than $300,000 in funding.

“The design came about through a technical working group within the AISI Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance.”

Modular or prefabricated bridges are not a unique concept to Barth, who serves as technical director for the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance’s Bridge Technology Center. In conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration, the SSSBA has focused on prefabricated bridge elements and systems – or PBES – which allows pieces to be fabricated off-

Spring 2016


“From an academic perspective, there is a whole world of things to explore in structural behavior,” Barth explained. “The fact that we are developing and implementing this technology in West Virginia puts us at the forefront of new technology.”

Groundbreaking solar energy research published in Nature Photonics

research news of note

A team of researchers from West Virginia University have had their groundbreaking research on converting solar energy to fuel published in Nature Photonics, a prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journal. The team, led by Nianqiang Wu, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, have developed a new mechanism to be used in solar energy conversion: plasmon-induced resonance energy transfer. “Solar-to-fuel conversion is similar to a solar panel, but instead of directly creating electricity, sunlight is used to create a renewable fuel for later use,” said Wu. “Unlike turning sunlight into electricity, however, not all of the solar spectrum can be utilized because of the energy needed to create fuels such as hydrogen.” Metals like silver, gold, copper and aluminum are known for their distinctive color. But when you shrink them down, the color is adjusted. “Nanostructured silver, gold, copper and aluminum are powerful optical antennas, absorbing light as if they were many times their physical size,” said Wu. “The research group is using these properties to engineer better sunlight absorption.” The trick, according to Alan Bristow, assistant professor of physics in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at WVU, comes in getting the energy from the metal to the rest of the solar cell. “According to Heisenberg’s famous uncertainty principle, we can know the exact position or speed of an electron, but not both at the same time,” said Bristow. “A similar uncertainty between energy and time becomes very important at the nanoscale.” After light is absorbed by the metal nanoparticle, Bristow said, there is an exceedingly short time in which to extract the energy before it is wasted as heat. The short lifetime leads to uncertainty in the energy, which can be readily exploited.

“Solar-to-fuel conversion is similar to a solar panel, but instead of directly creating electricity, sunlight is used to create a renewable fuel for later use.” The research team, whose work has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, has engineered a structure that takes the energy from the nanoparticle very quickly, thus taking advantage of this uncertainty while remaining true to energy conversion laws. While commercial implementation is still years away, Wu is encouraged by the team’s progress. “President Barak Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was recently announced, proposes 30 percent more renewable energy generation by 2030. I think it’s fair to say we are hot on the trail of making that attainable through this technology,” he said. Joining Wu and Bristow on the research team are postdoctoral fellow Jiangtian Li and graduate students Scott Cushing, Fanke Meng and Tess Senty.

Xinjian “Kevin” He, assistant professor of industrial and management systems engineering, has received a grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to characterize breathing flow in healthcare workers using respiratory protection. No national standards currently exist regarding the minimum required operational flow when powered air-purify respirators are used by healthcare workers. He hopes to change that. He will collect data on the inhalation flow rates and type of work being done by 15 healthcare workers at Mon General Hospital in Morgantown over the next year. From that data, He will characterize breathing flows produced by healthcare workers who perform routine tasks such as moving, lifting and turning patients. For more information: http://bit.ly/1SbKvlB

West Virginia could become one of the country’s significant sources for rare earth elements, the “vitamins of modern industry,” without the expense or environmental cost of opening new mines. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory recently selected WVU to conduct a $937,000 research project in support of DOE’s program to Recover of Rare Earth Elements from Coal and Coal Byproducts. WVU’s project, “Recovery of Rare Earth Elements from Coal Mine Drainage,” brings together academia, state regulators and industry to collaborate on finding a successful recovery technology for total REEs from acid mine drainage, or AMD. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute and principal investigator for the project, and co-investigators Xingbo Liu, professor of mechanical engineering, and Aaron Noble, professor of mining engineering, will test different sources of AMD solids and methods for extracting valuable REEs. For more information: http://bit.ly/1SeryyI

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


research news

Bourlai part of new National Center for Borders, Trade and Immigration


By Mary C. Dillon

Thirimachos Bourlai, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering, is part of a team of researchers charged with finding new ways to strengthen national security through the development of biometric-based technologies. The new Center for Borders, Trade and Immigration Research, a Center of Excellence housed at the University of Houston, was established with a $3.4 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, Office of University Programs. The Center includes researchers from 10 universities and a San Antonio, Texas, based consulting firm. “Our vision is to be the nation’s leading research center, through innovation in technology, datadriven approaches to informed policy and mission-focused individualized education,” said Ioannis A. Kakadiaris, director of the center and Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen University Professor of computer science at UH. “It will give us the opportunity to mobilize the nation’s intellectual capital to solve real-world problems.” The Homeland Security Act of 2002 created a framework for DHS to establish university-based Centers of Excellence throughout the United States to focus on security issues. Bourlai, who leads the Multispectral Imagery Lab at WVU and is considered to be an expert in the area of unconstrained face recognition, will be the technical lead on this project. He will work in partnership with Dimitris Metaxas, distinguished professor of computer science at Rutgers University.

“It will give us the opportunity to mobilize the nation’s intellectual capital to solve real-world problems.” Bourlai and Metaxas will work to develop face-based screening technologies at points of entry along U.S. borders. Their plan is to use variable portable devices with the capability to acquire face images at operational conditions, including variable standoff distances and illumination conditions. “It is an honor to have the opportunity to be working with so many experienced researchers at this Center,” said Bourlai. “I also look forward to working with my project partner, Professor Metaxas, who is an internationally known professor in the area of computer vision and biometrics.” Other universities participating in the project include Arizona State University, Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, University of Arizona, University of Minnesota, University of North Carolina-Charlotte and University of Texas-El Paso. Voir Dire International, LLC, a San Antonio-based company whose services include intelligence and security assessments, is also participating in the center. WVU was previously involved in a similar DHS Center, Borders, the National Center for Border Security and Immigration, led by the University of Arizona. WVU is also the founding member of CITeR, the Center for Identification Technology Research, which is a National Science Foundation Industry/University Collaborative Research Center.



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research news of note Two engineering professors – David Mebane, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Fernando Lima, assistant professor of chemical engineering – have been awarded more than $100,000 from the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund to demonstrate a new method for building fast models of complex chemical reactions and processes. The pair have created dynamic discrepancy reduced modeling, which produces a set of fast models that may be useful in smoothing out the effects of disturbances on chemical processes. The award will allow them to take the project to the next phase: demonstrating it on Fischer-Tropsch, a large complex process that creates liquid fuels from gasified coal, biomass and natural gas. For more information: http://bit.ly/1SEsXz7

engineers help elementary school earn LEED certification By Bernadette Dombrowski

An elementary school in Monongalia County has earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Gold certification, thanks in part to innovative research and construction development being explored at WVU. Tasked with designing and building an environmentally and economically responsible building to house Eastwood Elementary, Williamson Shriver Architects looked for innovative and original solutions to deliver on its goal. A contractor suggested they look into the work being done at WVU’s Constructed Facilities Center, housed in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. Hota GangaRao, director of the CFC and the Maurice A. and JoAnn Wadsworth Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering, was happy to introduce the Center’s fiber-reinforced polymer – or FRP – panels into the design. The panels, which were created with a modular concept in mind, are the culmination of years of research by GangaRao and his team to make building construction simpler, safer and more economical. Much of the research behind the panels was developed thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation, the lead sponsor for the Center for the Integration of Composites into Infrastructure, an Industry/University Collaborative Research Center housed in the CFC. These panels can be manufactured with bio-resin made from soybeans or organic resins. The panels use recycled material and surpass conventional

building materials in insulation and safety rating, all while creating less waste during production. Before production on the panels began, they were shipped to Intertek’s fire and flammability testing laboratory in Elmendorf, Texas, to be put through rigorous fire safety tests. After passing, the panels were put through more mechanical and thermal testing at WVU before being finalized for Eastwood Elementary. “We were glad to be a part of this project that has a large variety of sustainable and innovative, energy-saving techniques,” said GangaRao. “This is an example of the great benefits to society when universities, industry and government work together.” P.V. Vijay, co-principal investigator and assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, involved WVU students in the project. Vijay used the project for senior capstone courses throughout the building’s design and implementation. “Our students gained a great deal of knowledge in green design principals from thinking about design in terms of water and energy efficiency to materials reuse, indoor air quality and site utilization,” said Vijay. “Being a part of this experience was a gift for our students, while the building is a gift to the community of Morgantown.”

“Being a part of this experience was a gift for our students ...” GangaRao and Vijay also credited colleagues Mark Skidmore and Jerry Nestor for their assistance in lab work, field installation and shipping. The use of FRP panels is an approach GangaRao hopes to see widely implemented in construction of commercial and residential buildings. “This work is a small piece of the complex puzzle that, when solved, leads to using the modular concept associated with these panels to create manufactured housing,” said GangaRao. “For most buildings, we could cut the cost and construction time in half, and eliminate most of the waste typically seen in construction.” Only two school buildings in West Virginia have earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Gold certification, a designation based on materials and resources used, location, environment quality, innovation, efficiency and sustainability among other qualities.

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources



os by : Nige l Cla rk,

M.G. E llis

, J. Pa ige


it and Cafee staff

Cafee: a major resource in the research community I first encountered the institution now known as CAFEE – formerly the Center of Alternative Fuels – in its formative phase, circa 1992. As an undergraduate working on the engine of the 1993 Society of Automotive Engineers Formula team car, my introduction to the world of engine dynamometer testing was abrupt; the educational experience was immersive and the research environment was addictive. It wasn’t long before I was seeking an opportunity to work at CAFEE as a graduate student. I will be forever grateful to Dr. Nigel Clark for providing that opportunity and for encouraging me to continue my graduate studies allowing me to pursue the career I have today. Over the next five-plus years, the Center became a second home for me, witnessing the development of its heavy-duty engine testing capability and its mobile labs. Working at CAFEE was a major exercise in learning coordination, teamwork and the importance of sharing resources. I enjoyed putting together the Center’s first website and participating in research covering alternative fuels, emissions formation, aviation engine controls and fundamental engine development.



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My educational experience equipped me with the skills, network and sense of humor needed to develop and operate laboratories for engine/vehicle/emissions research in both the private sector and at a national laboratory. The Center’s dual focus on students obtaining practical experience and a strong theoretical background have proven to be ideal preparation for a career in this research field, as I am sure other graduates will attest. About a decade ago, I left my position as a senior engineer with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory behind to support the planning and conduct of research programs for the Coordinating Research Council. At that time, the CRC, which is a nonprofit organization that directs, through committee action, engineering and environmental studies on the interaction between automotive and other mobility equipment and petroleum products, was working with CAFEE on a major research project that focused

Spring 2016


on heavy-duty truck emissions. The study paved the way for groundbreaking research on the emissions and health effects of heavy-duty diesel engines. Through reports and papers on research projects and the extensive participation of students and faculty in the annual CRC Real World Emission Workshop, it is clear that West Virginia University’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions is recognized as a major resource in the engine/vehicle/emissions testing research community. As an alumnus, it has been gratifying to see the Center grow in capability over the years, keeping pace with the trend in the research community to examine all aspects of engine and vehicle emissions, both on- and off-road, in the lab and in the field. I am curious to see what the future holds for CAFEE and the next generation of researchers.

By: Christopher J. Tennant, B.S. ’93, M.S. ’94, Ph.D.’97 Deputy Director, Coordinating Research Council, Inc.


“WVU’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions is recognized as a major resource in the engine/ vehicle/emissions testing research community.”

— Christopher J. Tennant

CAFEE faculty and research leaders through the years V’yacheslav (Slava) Akkerman Chris Atkinson Alberto Ayala Reda Bata Dan Carder Ismail Celik Nigel Clark Cosmin Dumitrescu Mridul Gautam Alvin Howell

Derek Johnson Mohan Krishnamurthy Hailin Li John Loth Donald Lyons David McKain Ken Means Andrew Nix John Nuszkowski George Michael “Mike” Palmer

Jacky Prucz Benjamin Shade Tom Spencer James Smith Arvind Thiruvengadam Greg Thompson Wenguang Wang Scott Wayne

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


Before the traffic pattern on West Virginia University’s Evansdale Campus changed, it’s fair to say that most who drove past the testing facilities of the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions ignored it or thought it was a garage that belonged to Facilities Services. Its unassuming appearance masks the high-quality work done by the countless number of faculty and students who have come through its doors since it was formed in 1989.

the little lab that could By Mary C. Dillon

That all changed in September when the Environmental Protection Agency issued a Notice of Violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen and Audi for producing and selling 2.0 liter diesel cars that included a sophisticated software device that circumvents EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants. The news sent shockwaves around the world, leading to the resignation of the company’s CEO and countless lawsuits. What most people didn’t know – but quickly found out – was the initial research that led to the EPA’s announcement was done by a team of five at CAFEE. Suddenly, the “little lab,” as it was called in a National Public Radio report, was front page news. And the world quickly found out what WVU has known for a long time: researchers at CAFEE are leaders in engine and emissions research.



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photo: M.G. Ellis

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


the little lab that could

Leading from the beginning CAFEE was the brainchild of Donald Lyons, former chair and professor emeritus of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. The Department began the research program, which was initially called the Center for Alternative Fuels, to assist two West Virginia natural gas companies to expand their market by promoting its use as a fuel for transportation vehicles.

The companies provided $20,000 each to serve as seed money to launch a research program to demonstrate if a reduction in harmful exhaust emissions from vehicles could be achieved through the use of natural gas vs. traditional gasoline and diesel fuel.

L-R: Clark, Thompson, Wayne, Gautam, Lyons

“These funds allowed us to pursue major research support from funding organizations, which were dedicated to achieving significant reductions in air pollution from transportation vehicles and companies engaged in manufacturing engines and supplying fuels,” said Lyons. CAFEE’s first major funding was received shortly thereafter in the form of a $2.7 million, two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The research team was asked to develop a laboratory capable for reliably measuring the actual levels of exhaust emissions from demonstration vehicles, which were placed in fleets across the nation, using alternative fuels and engines. At the time, Lyons said, there were only three labs capable of reliably measuring the actual exhaust emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and they were all located in fixed locations. “In order to measure the actual exhaust emissions of the demonstration vehicles, the vehicles would have to be taken out of fleet service and shipped to these laboratories for testing,” Lyons said. “The fleet managers could not afford to take the vehicles out of service and send them away for testing.” WVU faculty went to work and created the nation’s first mobile chassis dynamometer laboratory capable of testing vehicles at the fleet site. The fleet of Transportable Vehicle Emissions Testing Laboratories has grown to three and has taken faculty and students to locations across North America. “Being able to reliably measure vehicle performance in the field has allowed CAFEE researchers, and others throughout the world, to develop improved vehicles and fuels that actually achieve greatly reduced exhaust emissions and improved fuel economy much sooner than these developments would otherwise have been possible,” Lyons said. “Tremendous improvements in vehicle performance have been achieved, and major developments are continuing.”



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Making an impact on regulatory policy

As CAFEE’s scope of research expanded so did its impact on regulatory policy. One discovery that rocked the heavy-duty truck industry – and closely mimics CAFEE’s Volkswagen research – occurred in the 1990s. The EPA and the California Air Resources Board identified engines from seven manufacturers – Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, Volvo, Mack Trucks/Renault and Navistar – that had used engine control software that caused the engines to perform differently when being tested in a laboratory vs. on the road. The software caused the engines to switch to a more fuel-efficient – but higher nitrogen oxideemitting – driving mode during steady highway cruising. In 1998, the EPA announced fines totaling $1 billion against the manufacturers, its largest fine to date. The consent decrees also required the manufacturers to allocate funds for pollution research and to upgrade their existing engines to lower NOX emissions. Who did the manufacturers turn to for help to ensure they were in compliance? The research team at CAFEE. “As part of the settlement of this lawsuit, the engine manufacturers committed to demonstrate that this off-cycle emissions operation was removed from current and future engines and that their engines would perform the same during test-stand testing and in actual vehicle operation,” Lyons said. “We developed special portable emissions testing instrumentation, which can be mounted on a truck or a bus, to measure the levels of exhaust emissions from the vehicle as it is driven on the road. “CAFEE became the leading laboratory for demonstrating their compliance.”

More than cars and trucks

CAFEE has tested engines as small as lawnmowers and refrigeration units, to ones large enough for some of the largest on-road trucks and virtually anything in between. Included in that list: locomotive and ship engines. CAFEE, in conjunction with Norfolk Southern Corporation, operates an emissions testing facility at NSC’s Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona, Pennsylvania. The facility can accommodate two locomotives: one undergoing testing and a second undergoing preparation for testing. In 2001, WVU’s first locomotive emissions study involved evaluating the impact of aftermarket turbochargers made by Hispano Suiza. CAFEE has also done on-board testing in three different marine programs. “We examined compressed natural gas and diesel technologies for a marine application on the Elizabeth River in Virginia,” said Gregory Thompson, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. “We also examined low emissions diesel fuel and water injection for a high-speed ocean-going vessel in California and examined after-treatment technologies for the Staten Island Ferry fleet in New York.”

“CAFEE became the leading laboratory for demonstrating their compliance.” — Donald Lyons

WVU went on to receive millions of dollars in research contracts from the engine manufacturers and the environmental regulatory agencies to demonstrate engine compliance. The heavy-duty engine industry also employs countless numbers of CAFEE alumni in a variety of roles.

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources



the little lab that could

More than 15 minutes of fame

The future is now

While some might assume that the team at CAFEE is happy to rest on its laurels, others realize that the time to grow and expand is now.

On September 18, 2015, Dan Carder, director of the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions, got a phone call from a reporter with a national news organization. “She wanted to know if she could speak to me, to which I replied ‘sure.’” Carder said. “She then asked if I knew what she might be calling in regards to, and I replied ‘no.’ She was gracious enough to respond that I should update myself with recent news reports and that she would phone me back in a few minutes.”

That one phone call turned into nearly 200 as media outlets around the world contacted Carder and others at CAFEE for information about their research as it related to Volkswagen vehicles. Interviews were conducted in person, by phone, satellite, radio and Skype. Global news outlets also traveled to Morgantown to visit CAFEE’s lab to see the work firsthand. As of early January more than 3,000 stories have appeared in news outlets from as far away as Qatar, Nigeria, Romania, Singapore, Malaysia and Armenia.


The New York Times The Wall Street Journal

CBS News MSNBC National Public Radio

Time Magazine




The Washington Post Fox News ABC News

CNN & CNN International

Placements of note:

60 Minutes Australia

NBC The Discovery Channel Spring 2016

In short: it’s time to turn the “little lab” into a big one. WVU is making a significant investment – more than $2 million – to expand both sides of CAFEE: the on-campus basic research capabilities, as well as its offcampus testing facilities. “CAFEE will grow in many new directions in 2016, beginning with the opening of a dedicated industry services laboratory and a fundamental combustion laboratory,” said Carder. The Vehicle and Engine Testing Laboratory will be focused on industrial testing and evaluation services. “Historically, we have provided these types of services to various industry partners, but have not concentrated on dedicated resources to grow this endeavor,” Carder said. “In 2016, we will be commissioning a state-of-the-art laboratory with light- and heavy-duty chassis dynamometer and engine dynamometer test cells. The facility will also serve as the operating hub for our numerous mobile and on-board emissions testing laboratories, and will address a variety of aspects typically not found in a traditional academic setting, such as specialized intellectual property security requirements and business-friendly contract negotiation.”

“CAFEE was successful in providing the DOE with valuable data concerning the development of automotive technology over its first 20 years of work,”


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That goal includes everything from studying evolving combustion technologies to expanding into new markets to creating international partnerships.

“The investment in the new basic research laboratory at the Statler College will enable CAFEE faculty to expand their efforts to win competitive research grants and continue to be recognized as national leaders in emissions, engines and alternative fuels research,” said Matt Harbaugh, WVU’s associate vice president for transformation. “The investment in the off-campus testing activities will include a new facility and specialized equipment, plus a dedicated test and evaluation team to proactively market and expand CAFEE’s work-for-hire research for industry partners.”

Al Jazeera

Huffington Post

“Our goal is to take CAFEE from a ‘blue collar’ operation to ‘white collar’ one,” said Dan Carder, director.


Carder said. “We were able to leverage $2.7 million of federal monies from this research into $40 million worth of research from industrial and commercial companies located around the world. We are now looking to leverage existing federal research monies to advance commercial utilization of natural gas.” Two assistant professors in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cosmin Dumitrescu and V’yacheslav (Slava) Akkerman, have created new laboratory facilities that will play a key role in advancing that endeavor. Dumitrescu has created the Advanced Combustion Laboratory, which will support the goals of advancing energy technologies that reduce engine-out emissions and increase the utilization of shale gas as alternative fuel or in blends with other fuels, for transportation and power generation systems. “New and upcoming emissions standards for internal combustion engines demand lower tailpipe-out emissions, deemed responsible for increased health and environmental problems,” Dumitrescu said. “At the same time, the diminishing supply of conventional fossil fuels has prompted the development of alternative fuels (e.g., synthetic fuels, biofuels, unconventional petroleum-based fuels), which often have different physical and chemical properties compared to traditional engine fuel.” The ACL will be centered on a modern heavy-duty compressionignition engine modified to provide extensive optical access to the combustion chamber. Laser-based and advanced imaging diagnostics will supply qualitative and quantitative data regarding in-cylinder flow and scalar fields (e.g., temperature, chemical composition, etc.) with high temporal and spatial resolution. Data will be used to develop an experimental and theoretical framework that provides a better understanding of the effects of advanced combustion strategies and/or fuel property. Akkerman has established the Analytical and Computational Combustion Research Direction, or ACCORD, which works in the interconnected areas of combustion science and computational fluid dynamics, including flame acceleration, deflagration-to-detonation transition, combustion instabilities, turbulent combustion, flame-acoustic interaction and fire/mining safety. According to Akkerman, ACCORD bridges the gap between CAFEE’s core expertise in applied research and the fundamentals of combustion science. “ACCORD complements Dr. Dumitrescu’s ACL efforts to combine fundamental and applied studies on internal combustion engines,” Akkerman said. “We plan to cooperate with ACL and other CAFEE divisions by providing a theoretical and computational platform for advanced experiments. This includes modeling of turbulence and turbulent combustion in heavy-duty internal combustion engines.”

Notable achievements Developed a state-ofthe-art mobile on-board emissions testing system for heavy-duty diesel emissions measurement, an achievement born from the consent decrees entered into by the U.S. Department of Justice and the six settling heavy-duty engine manufacturers that led to the development of in-use emissions compliance standards.

Assisted in the development of the 2006 diesel fuel sulfur standard and demonstrated the efficacy of heavy-duty diesel particulate matter filters, with comprehensive human health effects analysis.

CAFEE’s laboratories conduct high-level research for a variety of companies and organizations, among them fuel suppliers (BP, Chevron), engine manufacturers (Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel), vehicle manufacturers (Ford, General Motors) and federal and state agencies that regulate engine emissions.

CAFEE built the nation’s largest database of heavy-duty vehicle exhaust emissions and fuel efficiency data. WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


Shaping the next generation of Thiruvengadam

Thiruvengadam ranks number two on Motor Trend’s annual Power List By Marissa Sura

Arvind Thiruvengadam, a member of the West Virginia University team of researchers who discovered elevated levels of emissions from Volkswagen vehicles, has been named number two on Motor Trend’s annual Power List. Thiruvengadam, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the Statler College and a member of the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions, was chosen for what Motor Trend says is work that could “very likely change the way governments test vehicle emissions in the future.” The publication says the top 10 people on the list are “those who, in terms of their particular area of expertise, have had the most impact on the industry over the past 12 months.” The research team from CAFEE, which includes Thiruvengadam; Dan Carder, director of the Center; Greg Thompson, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; Marc Besch, research assistant for CAFEE; and Hemanth Kappana, who received his Ph.D. from WVU and now works in private industry, found that nitrogen oxide emissions – one of the top six common air pollutants – from two Volkswagen light-duty diesel engines exceeded EPA emissions standards by a factor of 15 to 35 and a factor of 5 to 20. Others named to the Power List top 10 are the president of Subaru of America, the chief executive of Mercedes-AMG, the chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board and the co-founder of Google. The broader list of 49 includes the CEO of General Motors, the president and CEO of Toyota, the CEO of Ford Motor Company, the CEO of Tesla, the comedian Jay Leno and the chief engineer of Chevrolet Corvette.



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ing In between conducting ground-break stry research and working as leading indu for ter Cen the in consultants, the faculty ssions Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emi have always fulfilled West Virginia deliver University’s land-grant mission to ents. stud r thei to high-quality education

engine researchers By Bernadette Dombrowski

uate Hundreds of undergraduate and grad ’s students have passed through CAFEE erience doors, leaving with knowledge, exp elled prop e hav and research findings that . stry indu them into careers as leaders of This May, four more will join their


WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources



Ross Ryskamp

Any given day, you can find Ross Ryskamp working away in the Bunker, an old testing laboratory on WVU’s Evansdale campus that now houses his research. A doctoral candidate, Ryskamp is studying how diesel fuel properties affect reactivity controlled compression ignition – a dual-fuel engine combustion technology – that when commercialized, could be the solution to reducing nitrogen oxide emissions and soot from engines. Ryskamp controls the combination of diesel fuel and natural gas in his test engine, which in turn allows him to control where combustion takes place in the engine’s cycle. “By using natural gas and injecting diesel fuel very early in the engine cycle, I’ve been able to get a really high air and fuel mixture, which is key to reducing NOx and soot while maintaining high fuel efficiency,” said Ryskamp, from Woodbridge, Virginia. The benefit of dual-fuel combustion is its ability to meet stringent exhaust emissions standards without the typical after-treatment systems, like a catalytic converter or a particulate filter. The challenge now is learning how to reduce carbon monoxide emissions. “Everything is very experimental at this point with RCCI, which means we still have a lot to learn about it, but the research is very promising,” said Ryskamp. Ryskamp received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from WVU in 2008 and 2010, respectively. When graduation comes in May, he hopes to continue on the research path in academia.



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Alumni in industry Since its founding in 1989, hundreds of students at the undergraduate and graduate levels have come through CAFEE’s research facilities, many of whom have gone onto careers in transportation. A small sampling follows: Caterpillar, Inc. Dave Jayasinghe Bobby John Nitin Rana Sairam Thiagarajan

Corning, Inc. Eric Corrigan Mrinmoy Dam Prakash Gajendran Sam George

Deepa Gupta ChetMun Liew Abishek Muralidharan Sriram Popuri Ganesh Vedula

Chrysler Group, LLC Thomas Buffamonte Karthik Chitoor

Cummins, Inc. Prabash Abeyratne Akunor Azu Victor Chew Jingang Fu

Daimler AG Alessandro Cozzolini General Electric Bradley Bane

General Motors Raffaello Ardanese Marcus Gilbert Hemanth Kappanna Honda Stephen Rosepiler John Deere Kendal Duffield

Rolls Royce North America Dinesh Gera Tesla Balaji Seward The Toro Company Umesh Shewalla

Volvo John Gibble Jason Ice Sorin Petreanu Seiar Zia Westport Louise Ayre Karthikeyan Venkatasubramaniam

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


Notable achievements


Developed the world’s first fully transportable heavy-duty vehicle emissions testing laboratory.

At the request of the U.S. Department of Transportation, CAFEE developed discreet, continuous emissions and performance models, including the wellreceived Integrated Bus Information System, a life-cycle cost model that incorporates capital, maintenance and operating expenses to provide a holistic, realistic view of public transportation technologies costs.

April Covington

April Covington has been working on engines for the better part of a decade. She received her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology in 2009 and her master’s degree in applied engineering at Georgia Southern University in 2011. Covington made the move to West Virginia to pursue her doctorate after meeting Nigel Clark, George B. Berry Chair of Engineering and provost at WVU Tech, at industry conferences. “Dr. Clark is such a huge name in the industry and I always admired his work and the strides he was making in the industry,” said Covington. “Coming to WVU to work with him aligned with my research interests and previous work.” Covington’s dissertation is a combination of past and present research done at CAFEE to develop a standard protocol of engine efficiency for natural gas compressor facilities. “Being in West Virginia, we’re right in the heart of the Marcellus shale region,” said Covington. “Having that connection to the industry made me want to direct my research in that area.”

CAFEE features one of the few engine laboratories in the country recognized by both the stringent California and Texas air quality boards, where reporting requirements must be highly accurate and repeatable.

“I never thought I would enjoy research as much as I have during my time at CAFEE.” — Nathan Fowler

Covington has spent countless hours reviewing literature on the subject and even more time on-site collecting data and talking to equipment operators. “I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of many research projects that come in to play when developing this protocol,” said Covington. “These projects allow us to go on-site to compressor and vehicle refueling stations and talk with operators. We get the unique perspective coming in from the scientist side but getting down on the platforms with engine operators and really understanding what’s happening.” This mix of academia and industry, Covington says, makes the protocol applicable to real-world applications. “Sometimes in academia, we have this great idea and we move forward with it, but then the real world doesn’t see it as applicable,” she said. “We are working to make both sides happy with our protocol for the natural gas industry.”



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Robert Heltzel

Nathan Fowler

Through his position, however, he met Derek Johnson, research assistant professor of mechanical engineering. When Johnson offered Heltzel a chance to work on a Department of Energy-funded project with him while pursuing a master’s degree, he jumped at it.

“Many natural gas companies still use older engines because they’re massive and extremely expensive, so companies want to keep them running as long as possible instead of buying new machinery,” explained Fowler. “But these engines – as an example, we’re testing one from 1972 right now – don’t work at the efficiency and low emissions ratings that they need to.”

Robert Heltzel’s introduction to CAFEE was somewhat inauspicious: as an undergraduate, he was hired to help keep the shop clean and assist researchers and graduate students as needed.

The natural gas industry uses massive engines in compressor and fueling stations. These engines, which are sometimes the size of a typical pickup truck, are costly to run with diesel fuel and produce large amounts of emissions exhaust. The DOE study looks to learn if natural gas can replace diesel fuel in natural gas industry engines, saving money and reducing emissions. Year one of the project has taken Heltzel across the country, collecting in-field data from natural gas sites. That data was reported back to the DOE, with emphasis on the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. “This year we’ve taken data at a few sites in Texas, Arkansas, Pennsylvania and West Virginia,” said Heltzel, a Fort Ashby native. “We want to get as great of a data sampling as possible to better understand what is happening on these sites.” In year two, CAFEE will focus on how to minimize the methane slip happening in these engines. Heltzel’s thesis has centered on creating engine cycles that will be used in year two of the project to simulate the engines in the field. “When simulating the engines working in the field, it was important to be able to represent all the data but do it in a more compact form,” said Heltzel. “I created a genetic algorithm using Markov’s chain process that, in testing, allows us to optimize our field data by truly simulating the field engines.”

Helping Heltzel in his research is fellow graduate student Nathan Fowler. Fowler also works with natural gas companies to help keep their compressor station engines compliant with emissions standards as they become stricter.

Fowler is forging a bit of a new path with his research. There is little literature available on the high horsepower engines that run the natural gas industry. When the opportunity presented itself, Fowler says combining his experience in engines and the natural gas industry just seemed right. “I can remember working on engines since I was 11 years old with family and then I worked in the natural gas industry on summer breaks,” said Fowler, a Charleston native. “When natural gas companies started asking CAFEE about research on these compressor engines, it was something that immediately made sense for me to work on.” Fowler has worked on engines from 40 to 4,000 horsepower as a student at CAFEE and hopes to continue his work after graduation. “I never thought I would enjoy research as much as I have during my time at CAFEE,” said Fowler. “If there’s an opportunity to continue on the research path after graduation, I will definitely take it.” Fowler and Heltzel are being heavily recruited by Johnson to continue their research while earning doctorates at WVU. “Robert is a bright student that easily picks up new skill sets and his work ethic is the best I’ve seen,” said Johnson. “Nathan has great hands-on skills and a great thirst for learning and understanding. It has been a true pleasure to work with both of these students.”

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


faculty news

Klinkhachorn named West Virginia’s Professor of the Year By Mary C. Dillon

On any given morning, long before classes begin at West Virginia University, you will find Powsiri Klinkhachorn walking through the halls of the Engineering Sciences Building, carrying a box. Ask him what’s inside and his answer is simple: “Robot parts.” The parts and the robots they ultimately become have helped make WVU a force to be reckoned with at design competitions around the country. They’ve also served as the springboard to student’s careers at places like NASA IV&V, IBM, Honeybee Robotics and Intel, and through outreach activities have helped recruit future generations of engineers to WVU. “All I’ve ever wanted is to show the engineering community that students from my alma mater can compete with any school in the country,” said



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Klinkhachorn, professor of computer science and electrical engineering. “And I think we have done that.” On November 19, the professor known simply as “Dr. Klink” was rewarded for his efforts when he was named West Virginia’s Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. He is the 19th WVU professor – the second in engineering – to receive the award.


“Being named a CASE professor of the year is one of the highest honors a faculty member can receive, and Dr. Klink is certainly deserving,” President E. Gordon Gee said. “His impact on students begins the moment they enter his classroom and remains with them the rest of their lives. It is in the best traditions of education.” Klinkhachorn, who earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from WVU in 1979 and 1983, respectively, credits his mentor, Professor Emeritus Robert Swartwout, for helping him become the teacher he is today. “Bob Swartwout was a very caring person and a wonderful advisor,” Klinkhachorn said. “He treated his students like his own children. He was always willing to help and took his time to make sure that his students understood the subjects he was teaching. And yet, at the same time, he always demanded his students do their best. I’ve tried to model my teaching style after his.

PHoto: B. Persinger

“I take a great deal of pride in seeing our students succeed on the competition stage and as engineers in their own right,” Klinkhachorn said. “The projects are very time consuming for everyone involved, but the payoff is well worth the effort.”

the night, he was right there beside us. When he said he had an ‘open door policy,’ he meant it; students could count on being able to find him at all hours of the day and he was always more than happy to help guide us to an answer. The fact that he was putting in this much time and effort above and beyond what was already required by just being a professor was not lost on us. He truly models what commitment means and leads by example. “Before our final run our first year at the NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition, Dr. Klink said to us, ‘We may not always win, but everyone will know where we came from.’ I’m sure he meant West Virginia University; but what I have come to realize over time is that, really, we came from him.” Godisart works for Oculus VR, a virtual reality company owned by Facebook. “My role as a teacher has changed from a lecturer to a facilitator; someone who stimulates student exploration of problems in a hands-on, realistic setting,” Klinkhachorn said. “Students are now actively learning and motivated, which encourages problem-solving and creativity and increases their knowledge and skills. It also better prepares them for what will be expected of them on the job for many years to come.” Another alumnus, Scott Zemerick, agrees and he continues to seek Klinkhachorn’s guidance in his role as commercial systems division manager and NASA contractor at TMC Technologies in Fairmont. “I have contacted Dr. Klinkhachorn often during my professional career to ask his opinion on a multitude of engineering projects,” Zermerick said. “I have always found his advice – both professional and technical – to be invaluable. With today’s tightening budgets and shorter deadlines, Dr. Klinkhachorn’s always-practical approach and willingness to teach is even more valuable to today’s undergraduates.” “It is certainly rewarding to see how the creativity, teamwork and the time spent outside class have coalesced in enhancing the learning experience of students in unimaginable ways,” Klinkhachorn said. “Their enthusiasm and passion fuels my desire to work even harder on their behalf.” Brian Woerner, chair of the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, nominated Klinkhachorn for the award, calling him “one of the finest teachers I have had the pleasure of knowing during my academic career.”

And the payoffs have been significant. Since 2011, WVU robotics teams led by Klinkhachorn have finished near the top in numerous robotics competitions, including taking top honors at the NASA Robotic Mining Competition, NASA/NIA RASC-AL Exploration Robo-Ops Competition and Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems Robotic International Space Mining Competition in 2014. He also served as an advisor to the team from WVU that became the first level-two winner in the Sample Return Robot Challenge, part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges, in 2015.

This is just the latest in a long line of accolades Klinkhachorn has received for outstanding teaching at both the national and state level. In 2013, he won the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Major Education Innovation Award, which is given to IEEE members who have distinguished themselves for outstanding educational innovation, and the WVU Foundation’s Outstanding Teaching Award. He has twice been named a finalist for the Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia’s Professor of the Year Award and as an Outstanding Teacher in the Statler College, and was named its Teacher of the Year in 2012.

For alumnus Tim Godisart, who met Klinkhachorn as a high school student when he attended a summer robotics camp at WVU, working as the student lead on several of these projects became the defining experience of his college career.

“This award is an honor for both Dr. Klinkhachorn and for West Virginia University and a reminder that exceptional, passionate teaching is at the heart of the academic research enterprise,” said Provost Joyce McConnell. “Having had occasion to congratulate Dr. Klinkhachorn for numerous other teaching awards over the years, I am not at all surprised that he has been recognized by the Carnegie Foundation. He is truly a gifted educator.”

“Working on these teams requires an incredible amount of hard work and commitment from each and every member of the group, including Dr. Klink,” Godisart said. “When we came into lab on weekends and worked late into

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


faculty news

Savage creates Twitter bot platform for activists Daily, news headlines speak of activists fighting for causes across the globe. Thanks to a West Virginia University researcher, their fight just got easier. Saiph Savage, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering, has created Botivist – a platform that uses Twitter bots, a program used to produce automated posts to the site, to help activists find potential volunteers and request contributions. “When I looked at the discussions taking place on Twitter, I realized that most people were just there to complain or mourn,” said Savage. “I asked myself if we could create technology that could mobilize these

people to go from complaining to thinking about solutions.” The answer is yes. Savage teamed up with Microsoft researcher Andres MonroyHernandez and Tobias Hollerer, professor of computer science at University of California Santa Barbara, to create a group of Twitter bots that targeted people who tweeted about government corruption in Latin America. In total, 45 percent of bot communications received replies. Bots that gave direct discussion prompts such as, “corruption isn’t fought with street rallies! It’s fought by being tough on crime,

having honesty and transparency,” had the highest response rates, more than 80 percent, from volunteers invested in the cause. Other strategies, like using human personas for the nonhuman bots, were not as successful. “When Botivist used techniques designed to be persuasive and effective in direct human interaction, replies were low,” said Savage. “By being less human, and more robotic, the bots received double the responses, showing us that people were happy to interact with bots as long as they didn’t pretend to be human.”

Engineers assess fire damage in historic Harpers Ferry In late July 2015, fire raged through Harpers Ferry, which sits on a peninsula at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. The town, which changed hands eight times during the Civil War between 1861 and 1865, is best known as a site of a failed raid on a federal arsenal in 1858 by abolitionist John Brown. Two researchers from West Virginia University – with ties dating back to the late 1960s – are pledging their help to get these structures back online.



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Hota GangaRao, Maurice A. and JoAnn Wadsworth Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at WVU, will team up his mentor, Emery Kemp, former chair of the department, in an effort to see these buildings restored to their original, historic beauty. “Dr. Kemp is a renowned structural preservation specialist who was instrumental in hiring me as a young faculty member at WVU in 1969,” said GangaRao. “I received my first research project with his help in 1971 on modular concepts of construction to improve quality and reduce cost. He has spent many

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hours helping others on a pro-bono basis, and I am honored to be working with him on this project.” The fire occurred in the commercial area adjacent to Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, which draws tens of thousands of visitors annually. Ten buildings, including a pub, an ice cream shop and three stores filled with artisan items were destroyed in the fire, which started early in the morning on July 23. Two of the buildings dated back to before the Civil War. “The buildings affected are of great historical significance, and I think I speak for all state residents when I


Little was known on the use of online bots in civic engagement before the study, but the results suggest the mechanism is here to stay. “As we saw in the study, the majority of people called to action by Botivist made relevant contributions to the discussion and began collaborating with other activists that were mutually contacted by a bot,” said Savage. “Botivist is a tool that brings all of the little things together to create meaningful change in society.” Botivist has been featured in reports by the British Broadcasting Corporation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Review and Vice.

say we want to see them restored so future generations of visitors can learn from them,” said GangaRao. “Tourism generates revenue for the state, which is especially true in Harpers Ferry’s case because of its proximity to Washington, D.C. And there is a humanitarian angle to getting these buildings back online because families are dependent on them being operational for their daily livelihood.” GangaRao joined Ted Shriver from the West Virginia Fire Commission and Harpers Ferry Mayor Gregory Vaughn for a tour of the affected structures. The research team, which included P.V. Vijay, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, took measurements of the damaged buildings and made a quick assessment of their structural integrity in an effort to determine a future course of action.

faculty news of note


The team is currently collaborating with the Wikimedia Foundation to learn how bots can be used to recruit volunteers to execute tasks for Wikipedia and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA hopes to use Botivist to create a mentoring system among those wishing to make animal-friendly lifestyle changes.

They were surprised by what they found. “The historic portions of the buildings do not seem to have major structural fire-related degradation,” said GangaRao. “The newer additions of 1960s and 1970s have exhibited major damage and may not be suitable for renovation.” The next step will be to quickly find financial support to repair the buildings, which in GangaRao’s estimation would take approximately two years to complete. “We would love to be part of the rehabilitation process,” said GangaRao. “This project would provide our students with hands-on experience and provide them with a unique opportunity to have an impact on the history of West Virginia.”

Xingbo Liu, professor and associate chair of research in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was selected as one of four recipients to receive the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society 2016 Brimacombe Medalist Award. The award is presented to mid-career professionals with sustained excellence and achievement in business, technology, education, public policy or science related to materials science and engineering. Liu was recognized for his significant contribution on research and development of high-temperature materials and coatings for energy conversion, and extensive service Liu to TMS.


Thirimachos Bourlai, assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering, has been named a subject matter expert on the Homeland Defense bourlai and Security Information Analysis Center’s website. The organization leverages the best expertise from industry, other government agencies and academia to solve the government’s toughest scientific and technical problems.

Sam Ameri, chair of the Department of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, has been named to two committees by ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. Ameri was reappointed to ABET’s Finance Committee, which prepares the organization’s annual budget for the next fiscal year, and was named to its Nominating Committee, which recommends candidates for various offices within the organization and for honors bestowed on volunteers that contribute greatly to ABET. For more information: http://bit.ly/1RiURii

Rakesh Gupta, the George and Carolyn Berry Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering, was one of 16 scientists from around the gupta world honored with the Distinguished Speaker Award from CHEMCON, the four-day annual flagship event of Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers. Gupta discussed his research in the use of polylactic acid, a plastic derived from corn, for use in food packaging. Although PLA is the most common bioplastic in use today, its use in food packaging is limited since it allows moisture to pass through it at a faster rate as compared to competing, petroleum-derived plastics, such as polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. He will present his efforts to make the permeability of moisture through PLA similar to that of PET. For more information: http://bit.ly/1LbNpz5

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


Student News

WVU to make fifth-straight Robo-Ops Challenge appearance Students from West Virginia University will once again get to show off their robot-building skills when they make their fifth-straight appearance at the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts – Academic Linkage Exploration RoboOps Challenge. The competition, sponsored by NASA and organized by the National Institute of Aerospace, will be held in June at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Photo: J.P. Nesbit

The WVU team, led by advisor Powsiri Klinkhachorn, professor of computer science and electrical engineering, finished second in 2015 after winning the competition in 2014. Weight was a factor, since rovers are weighed prior to the competition, which determines teams’ starting times. Teams with lighter-weight rovers have the advantage of seeing where other teams are collecting samples and can get there more quickly. “The weight of our rover hurt us this year,” said Klinkhachorn. “Our goal for this year will be to create a robot that is 8-10 kilos lighter than last year.” The competition challenges teams to build a planetary rover prototype and demonstrate its capabilities to perform a series of competitive tasks. The rovers compete on a planetary analog environment under the supervision of NASA judges. Up to three members of the team (plus the faculty advisor) travel to JSC for the on-site testing with the remaining team members staying behind at the local university to conduct mission control-type tasks.



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The rovers are tele-operated by the university team and must negotiate a series of obstacles while accomplishing a variety of tasks including negotiating specified upslopes and downslopes, traversing sand and gravel pits, picking up specific rock samples and placing them on the rover for the remainder of the course and driving over rocks of specified diameter. Team members from WVU include electrical engineering graduate students Eric Loy (Keyser; team lead), John Lucas (New Market, Maryland), Maneesh Chandu Jasti (Telangana, India), Priyashraba Misra (Odisha, India) and Steven Hard (Point Marion, Pennsylvania). Undergraduate students involved in the project are computer engineering and computer science majors DavidMichael Buckman (Inwood; WVU Honors College), Philip Fanelli (Ranson), Devyn Gentzyel (Enterprise, Alabama; WVU Honors College) and Curtis Landis (Kinsman, Ohio; WVU Honors College); computer engineering major Nicholas Mireles (Fredericksburg, Virginia); mechanical engineering major Nathan

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Owen (Fairfax, Virginia); and computer and electrical engineering majors Benjamin Upton (Charleston; WVU Honors College) and Bertrand Wieliczko (Holderness, New Hampshire). Joining WVU in the competition will be teams from California State University at Long Beach, University of Buffalo, University of California at Berkeley, University of Maryland, University of Oklahoma, University of Utah and University of Wyoming. Maryland is the defending champion. The teams each receive a $10,000 stipend from NASA/NIA to partially offset the cost of rover hardware and transportation costs to attend the event. Additional support is provided by the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium, the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources and the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.

Engineering seniors help others breathe easier By Bernadette Dombrowski Photo: J.P. Nesbit

For many, the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering’s senior design expo is a time to breathe a sigh of relief, signaling the end of years of hard work culminating in the presentation of a final project before graduation. For others, it’s a time to help others breathe a little easier. A group of seniors led by Quinn Jones, a computer science and engineering major from Fairchance, Pennsylvania, displayed their prototype for an aerosol dispersion spirometer, a device that measures how effectively air is brought into the lungs, at the semi-annual expo, which was held recently in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. The idea started when Michael McCawley, assistant professor in WVU’s School of Public Health, spoke to a class about his design for an at-home aerosol dispersion spirometer. McCawley’s design was nearly seven years old and did not take

advantage of recent state-of-the-art technology, leaving the device slow and with a major design error that allowed patients to see real-time results, a dangerous feature that could lead to patient self-diagnosis.

brought in has to displace the gas near the entry of the lung into deeper portions. By using aerosolized particles with a light-scattering photometer, the device can count air particles as they enter and exit, characterizing the entire function of the lungs.

McCawley, knowing of a company that was interested in the commercialization of the project if the flaws could be worked out, hoped that students would be interested in taking on the project and turning it into something that could be produced and distributed on a large scale.

The device communicates results to doctors through Wi-Fi or phone lines, a feature that gives patients even in the most rural areas access to physicians. The group also wrote software that doctors will use to access patient information in a secure database.

Knowing that West Virginians are particularly at risk for lung diseases due in part to high smoking rates and the low density of physicians throughout the Appalachian region, Jones and his group knew that if they succeeded they could change lives.

“Our device’s main advantage is two-fold. Over traditional spirometers that require a lot of effort, our device will cost a little more to produce, but is infinitely more comfortable to use because a patient must breathe slowly and deeply,” said Jones. “Compared to older models that use the same method, our device is significantly cheaper due to advances in computational technology.”

“When you look at where in the state these issues are happening, it’s mostly rural counties where there just isn’t easy access to healthcare,” said Quinn. “Having a debilitating disorder is hard enough, but when you factor in the time and money lost on hospital visits, you can see how this device could really help people.” The device works on observations that healthy lungs bring in gas molecules in, a “first in last out” method: during inhalation, the gas currently being

Jones will continue to test and perfect the device until the entire group is happy with the product’s performance. After that, a team of professional engineers specializing in prototype projects will design an efficient production workflow and mass production plan.

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


Student News

Chemical engineering students win awards at national conference Two students majoring in chemical engineering won top honors in poster competitions at the 15th annual meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Reem Eldawud, a doctoral student from Jordan, finished second in the Bionanotechnology Graduate Student Award Session. Andy Maloney, a senior from Morgantown, finished second in the Food, Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology category, which featured 93 entrants. Eldawud

Eldawud is working to develop new ways to analyze the toxicity of nanomaterials, which are 100,000 times smaller than a human hair and are used in consumer applications ranging from cosmetics to biomedical devices to electronics and food packaging. Understanding their toxicological profiles is key to prevent their harmful effects on human health and the environment. Using the intrinsic natural sensitivity of cells, Eldawud analyzed changes in cellular shape and morphology as a result of their exposure to nanomaterials of carbon. These changes are then correlated to changes in cellular function to derive nanomaterial-specific cellular effects. The changes are tracked in real time. “This research has opened great opportunities to meet and interact with other graduate students and professionals who are doing similar work,” explained Eldawud. “Being recognized by leaders in the bio-nano-technology field is very rewarding.” Maloney’s presentation, “Bionano-Enzyme Conjugates with Bacterial Decontamination Capabilities,” showed how environmentally friendly and self-sufficient bionano conjugates can be used for biological decontamination.




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By combining two enzymes – glucose oxidase and chloroperoxidase – Maloney noted that

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more than 99 percent of the E. Coli present was killed with 30 minutes of treatment. Further integration of such conjugates into fabrics, for instance, can produce the next generation of self-cleaning systems. E. Coli is a bacteria known to be responsible for infections resulting from contaminated water or person-to-person contact, “Outbreak of severe infections due to inefficient or unsuccessful decontamination of surfaces could impact civilians and infrastructures, leading to unfavorable socio-economic impacts,” Maloney noted in his presentation. The next generation of decontamination technologies needs to reduce the logistical burdens associated with infection prevention, preferably through use of green technologies.” Maloney, who is also a student in WVU’s Honors College, said attending the conference helped to solidify his future career plans, which include graduate school. “I met a lot of faculty at universities at which I am considering pursuing graduate studies,” he said. “Presenting my research is a great way to network with peers and see cuttingedge research that is being conducted at other institutions. It was an honor to be selected as one of the top competitors.” Both students are advised by Cerasela Zoica Dinu, associate professor of chemical engineering. “Seeing our students recognized in the scientific community is both an example of the quality education they receive at WVU and the importance of the problems they tackle,” said Dinu. Other WVU students in attendance at the conference included sophomores Anna Gilpin and Cassidy Bland, juniors Melanie Hott and Jordan Chapman, and seniors Matthew Sorrells and Matt Steinheimer. Gilpin, Bland, Hott, Chapman and Sorrells are also students in the Honors College.

WVU Engineers Without Borders begins development project in Dominican Republic By Bernadette Dombrowski

It’s difficult to realize how important clean water is in day-to-day life until it’s gone. West Virginia University’s Engineers Without Borders chapter spent a week of their summer planning how to give that valuable resource to a community in Caobete, Dominican Republic. Members of EWB used the knowledge gained through their classes to conduct research and resource analysis to find a dependable water source that could benefit from filtration and disinfection systems in a rural community that relies heavily on bottled water and rain collection for drinking, cooking and washing needs. Wells are limited, shallow and polluted in the area and are operated by pumps that run on electricity. “Caobete only has four to five hours of electricity on a good day, which strictly limits the amount of water that can be drawn from wells,” said Brian Donnelly, EWB project lead. “Our goal was to find a significant water source that we could then treat, giving the people of Caobete much more freedom to use water.” The group split into three task teams to fully assess the water supply issue. The first team tested 13 water sources for quality and safety. Rain water collection tanks, wells and an irrigation canal were among the water sources tested. The second group mapped the community by plotting the location of all water test sites, waste sources, community

meeting centers, businesses and farm perimeters on a Global Positioning System. The last group was responsible for determining the overall water demand per capita, which they achieved through interviewing more than 20 families. Back in Morgantown, the group will use the data to choose the best water source available and design a sustainable solution to provide an economical, safe and constant water supply. The students will return to Caobete next year to implement the design. “This experience taught each of us something new,” said Donnelly. “There was only so much that we could do before our trip to ensure we could achieve our goals. Once we got on site, we all worked together as a team to face each challenge which helped us excel at every task.” Students were selected for the trip based on their previous participation in EWB service projects and events, leadership and group work skills and aptitude for the tasks involved. The students were juniors Rebecca Cokeley (mechanical engineering, Harrisville), Elizabeth Dang (industrial engineering,

Morgantown), Michael Fouts (chemical engineering, Bridgeport), Katherine Warner (electrical engineering, Morgantown), Josh Watson (industrial engineering, Morgantown) and Donnelly (chemical engineering, Morgantown). Also selected were seniors Ryan Butler (civil engineering, Huntingtown, Maryland), Erika Allen (civil engineering, Wheeling) and sophomore Ahmed Haque (chemical engineering, Morgantown). The group partnered with Every Day Hope, a humanitarian organization focused on building self-sustainable communities to improve quality of life. Funds for the project were provided by the Statler College and the departments of chemical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, industrial and management systems engineering, computer science and electrical engineering and mechanical and aerospace engineering. Other organizations that supported the chapter’s efforts included WVU’s Student Government Association, Office of International Programs, NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium and the Statler College’s Office of Outreach and Recruitment.

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


Student News Maloney / Phipps / O’Connell

Grand Challenges Summit changes lives WVU students

By Bernadette Dombrowski

Two days at the Global Grand Challenges Summit in Beijing, China, changed the lives of West Virginia University seniors Andy Maloney, Katie O’Connell and Emily Phipps. Sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the Royal Academy of Engineering, the invitation-only event brought together a diverse mix of thought leaders and students who discussed opportunities believed to be achievable and sustainable to help people and the planet survive. The summit focused on the themes found in the NAE Grand Challenges report – sustainability, infrastructure, energy, health and joy of living – along with education and security/ resilience.

Maloney shared his experience with his classmates, but realized many of the themes discussed at the Summit were already in the minds of WVU students. “Upon my return, I discussed much of the information that was new and interesting to me with my classmates. When I learned they were already aware of many of the topics, it validated my thought that WVU is an institution that prepares its students to be competitive in multiple disciplines on a global scale.” Being in the presence of so many prestigious engineers and scientists had a lasting mark on O’Connell.

For Maloney, a chemical engineering major from Morgantown, the experience demonstrated how valuable his WVU education is.

“Seeing accomplished and renowned scientists and engineers share a common passion to bring together science, public policy and life value for the betterment of humankind sparked my own passion to do the same,” said O’Connell, a mechanical engineering major from Wellsburg. “Attendees brought their ideas, charisma and wonder, and left with a new perspective and insight on how science and engineering can change the future of our world. I left with a sense of hope and motivation for my future career as an engineer.”

“While at the Summit, I felt fully capable of understanding and discussing many of the challenges and ideas mentioned,” said Maloney. “I learned a great deal about topics outside my

As an industrial engineering major with an eye on a career in the health industry, Phipps was most struck by the session on health in the age of informatics.

The trio of students from the Statler College were selected to attend based on their outstanding academic and extracurricular achievements.


discipline as well that gave me a more wellrounded perspective on the problems we face.”


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“Hearing from an expert in this niche that I want to work in was the most impactful experience,” said Phipps, from Cornelius, North Carolina. “Attending this Summit was really motivating, in that it reaffirmed how many issues there are in the healthcare industry and how as engineers we have the ability to correct these problems, which can save millions of lives.” Phipps hopes to help other WVU students participate in future Global Grand Challenges experiences by supporting the Grand Global Challenges Scholars program. “The Scholars program, sponsored by NAE, gives participants the opportunity to do hands-on projects, service learning and research on a global scale. It would allow the University to expand its presence in the engineering community and help WVU students be among the best problem-solvers of our time.” While they will all change the world in different ways, Maloney, O’Connell and Phipps left the Summit with a sense of urgency to do just that. “A key point of the Summit was appreciating the trust the public gives engineers to develop innovations in technology and research that can change the world,” said O’Connell. “With this great power comes great responsibility and we left ready to use that power to contribute to the greater good of society.”

Photo: j.P. Nesbit

WVU-UTV Solar Decathlon team reflects on competition By Bernadette Dombrowski

While they didn’t come away with the win, West Virginia University and University of Rome Tor Vergata’s Solar Decathlon 2015 team did bring home first prize in two categories – and major lessons-learned. “Making the trip to California to compete in the Solar Decathlon was a valuable experience for all of us,” said Sharrafti Kuzmar, a senior computer science and electrical engineering major from Morgantown. “We’re proud we had the opportunity to represent our universities.” A two-time Solar Decathlon veteran, Kuzmar is proud of how far the team has come and the improvements they made compared to the last competition. “We improved in every single category compared to our last entry,” said Kuzmar. “There’s always room for improvement, but I would say we’ve come pretty far.” The team blew the competition away in the fan favorite contest, which culminated after a week of voting. With more than 150,000 votes, WVU and UTV’s house – named STILE – was chosen by a two-to-one margin over any other house. “We won fan favorite by a landslide, which was really exciting,” said Kuzmar. “It felt amazing to know we had so many supporters behind us from West Virginia, Rome and around the world. We couldn’t have done it without our great friends, family, sponsors and the university communities.”

system several times during the competition to simulate the driving patterns of a typical household. The team was supported by a large group that donated time, money and supplies to make their vision for STILE come to life. Those companies include Allegheny Design, ASKEEN, BestLaminate, Bison, Brewer Fire Protection, Cardello, Carrier, CSC, DB Com, the U.S. Department of Energy, Eaton, Elkay, Enetec, Florafelt, Huntington Steel, ISM, JPL Compressor Service, KeyLogic, Mills Group, MSA, MTV Solar, NREL, Plants on Walls, Qolsys, SnapNrack, SolarEdge, SolarWorld, Tekla, Triangle Sales, TTE, V&W Electric and Supply, Velux, Watek, Water Wise Group and Wood-Mode. With their eyes set on the next competition, Kuzmar is ready to hand off the Solar Decathlon baton to the next group of students that will represent their respective schools. “For the next competition, the challenge will be to design and build a house that excels in all the contests,” said Kuzmar. “My best advice for the next group is to celebrate the small successes but don’t lose sight of the big picture, and always remember that your team and your supporters are your biggest assets.”

The team was also awarded full points in the commuting contest, which challenged teams to drive an electric vehicle charged from the house’s electric WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


Student News

Mining students receive outstanding chapter award WVU’s Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration chapter received the 2014-15 outstanding student chapter award. of mining engineering. “I am proud of their accomplishments and excited to see this type of national recognition for their efforts.” One of the chapter’s favorite community outreach activities was giving presentations to elementary and high school students about mining to throughout West Virginia.

Selection was based on reports submitted by the chapter explaining the level and quality of chapter activities and operations. Michael Sustar, president of the chapter during 2014-15, believes members’ determination to become future leaders in the industry is what brought them the award. “We came together by participating in many community service activities, promoting a high emphasis on safety in the mining industry, attending numerous professional events and concentrating on cultivating expertise that will help us land internships and jobs in the industry,” Sustar said, who now works for Freeport McMoRan at their Henderson Mine in Colorado. Chapter members recorded more than 300 community service hours, attended major stateand industry-wide meetings and symposiums and participated in at least one on campus event every month, including high school visitation days, Engineerfest and Trunk-or-Treat. “The students have worked diligently to create an organization that fosters professional development and supports community outreach,” said Aaron Noble, chapter advisor and assistant professor



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“We shared how much of an impact mining has on the world because many people don’t realize how many everyday items are a product of mines,” said Sustar. “Many teachers emailed me after and mentioned how great our members did promoting the impact and influence of mining.” Sustar says that the chapter couldn’t have been so successful if not for the late Chris Bise, the chapter’s former advisor and past chair of the Department of Mining Engineering. “Dr. Bise always went out of his way to ensure that his students received the best education and experiences possible,” he said. “He helped mold every single one of us, and I know we will all keep his memory alive as we move from students to industry professionals.” The chapter received a $500 cash award, two tickets to the SME awards dinner during the organization’s annual conference and expo held in February and a feature article in Mining Engineer magazine. “I would like to thank my fellow student chapter officers for the time and dedication that they put into running this organization, our professors who have always encouraged us and our alumni and industry professionals who provide continued support and have contributed to the success of our student chapter over the years,” said Sustar.

Spring 2016


In Memoriam William Atwell, Jr., MSCE ’72, of Morgantown, passed away on October 23, 2015. A structural engineer he started his career with Alex B. Mahood Architects, in Bluefield, in 1959. After working in Virginia and South Carolina, in 1969 he became the co-founder and vice-president of Alpha Associates Inc., where he worked until his retirement, in 2009. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, and two children. James Blasingame of Fairmont passed away on May 28, 2015, after suffering complications from a fall. A native of Oklahoma, Blasingame, a 1976 graduate of WVU with a degree in civil engineering, spent nearly 40 years working in the natural gas industry, all with Consolidated Natural Gas/Dominion Resources. He retired as director of gas storage and was a licensed professional engineer. He is survived by his wife, Sandy, two sons and a daughter.

WVU faculty, students place in international competition A group of West Virginia University faculty and students led by Guodong Guo, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering, placed third in the world, first in the nation in ChaLearn’s apparent age challenge. The challenge was part of the 2015 Looking at People International Conference of Computer Vision. Guo was joined by Guowang Mu, a visiting professor from Hebei University of Technology in Tianjin, China. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources student Yu Zhu, a computer science graduate student, and Yan Li, a visiting student, also participated in the challenge. The team used two high-performance computers and worked for more than four months to complete the challenge, in which they performed apparent age estimations from 5,000 face still images. The challenge uses the first state-of-the-art database for apparent age recognition rather than real age recognition. The team accepted their award – a cash prize, travel stipend and a NVIDIA Tesla Accelerated-Computing Platform – at the ICCV workshop in December 12, in Santiago, Chile. “This is truly a significant achievement as there are many participants from worldwide institutions that participate,” said Guo. “Our students received great experience from this challenge and we are proud of the research we were able to accomplish.”

student news of note Modeled after the TV show “The Amazing Race,” teams were comprised of two supply chain and two engineering students. The WVU team, made up of two students each from the College of Business and Economics and the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, brought home a cash prize of $3,000.

Several mining engineering students from WVU earned top honors in mine design competitions held in the region. Recent graduates Jeffrey Stevens (Bergholz, Ohio), Michael Sustar (Independence, Ohio) and Rebecca Stas (Martinsburg) won first place in the Pennsylvania Coal Mining Institute of America/Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration Inc. Pittsburgh section Senior Design contest. Three seniors – James Bradshaw (Silver Spring, Maryland), Max Colton (Silver Spring, Maryland) and Christopher Sowers (Frostburg, Maryland) – finished second in the 2015 Carlson Mine Design Competition.

For more information: http://bit.ly/1LbNDWQ

For more information: http://bit.ly/20RwET5

A four-member team from West Virginia University captured first place in the Race to the Case Supply Chain Management competition at the University of Pittsburgh.

At a time when Greek organizations across the nation are taking a hit for bad behavior, a new fraternity at WVU is hoping to change that stigma. “One of our biggest goals is to work toward changing the current stigma of Greek life,” said Chris Yenchko, chief engineer for WVU’s Chapter of Sigma Phi Delta, an international professional fraternity of engineers. “We would like there to be a positive connotation when people think of fraternities and sororities.” For more information: http://bit.ly/1opxyIw

Alumni: GET INVOLVED! CONNECT • MEMBERSHIP • CAREERS • COMMUNITY Congratulations and welcome to your alumni family. The WVU Alumni Association is here to help strengthen your networks, enhance your experiences and allow you to stay connected and engaged in the life of your alma mater. If you are interested in joining our network, visit alumni.wvu.edu/new-grad

STAY CONNECTED... GET INVOLVED... and NETWORK! WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


alumni News

Campriani targets victory By Bernadette Dombrowski


When Nicco Campriani aims for success, he doesn’t miss. A 2011 industrial engineering graduate and Olympic medalist, Campriani has a resume full of success in the classroom, in competition and now in the workforce.

Having already competed in one Olympics, Campriani came to West Virginia University in 2009 to join the rifle team. After a successful run on the team and graduating as an Outstanding Senior, Campriani switched focus from schoolwork to shooting to prepare for the 2012 London Olympics. Campriani spent time in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with the United States team before returning home to Italy to finish technical preparations. His hard work paid off, earning him two medals, gold and silver. After the Olympics, Campriani went to work on completing a master’s degree in sport engineering at Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, England. At the same time, he was collaborating with Pardini, an Italian firearms manufacturer as a technical consultant. He graduated in 2013 and an innovative Pardini air rifle designed by Campriani was released on the market. His rifle claimed a World Championship in its first year of production under the expert handling of fellow WVU alumna Petra Zublasing. Campriani continued to find success on the range at the 2013 and 2014 World Cups and the 2015 European Games, enough to qualify him for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. In his “spare” time, Campriani has found a new role in the sport engineering industry at Ferrari.



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Campriani is the project leader for shooting sports at Ferrari, where he collaborates with a team of sport engineers that apply engineering expertise and Ferrari technology to a range of sports, including shooting, archery and winter sports. Currently, Campriani is working toward designing a device used to test the Italian National Shooting Team’s rifles and ammunition. “Looking at sports through the eyes of an engineer is fascinating and completely different than an athlete’s perspective. Knowing both sides allows me to study and unveil every detail of the discipline we’re working on,” said Campriani. “I love what I do here because it reflects who I am; it brings my passion for sport and engineering to life.” Campriani also spends a lot of his time at Ferrari working one-on-one with athletes and coaches, a task that comes with many challenges. “I enjoy working with athletes and coaches because of their need for perfection; it’s exciting and contagious,” said Campriani. “But like engineers, elite coaches and athletes have their own language that must be deciphered in order to help them. I work to translate the athlete’s feelings into objectives and measurable parameters to find the best solutions. Luckily, I’ve been in their shoes as an athlete, which I find helps me.”

Spring 2016


Finding the right balance of work, training and social life has been key to Campriani’s success. The shooter spends seven hours a day at Ferrari and four hours at the shooting range, while still finding time to hit the gym and see friends and family. “A lot of people ask how I can balance everything, but I simply don’t think there is another option,” said Campriani. “Trying to dedicate 100 percent of your time to any one thing will leave you burned out and frustrated. My secret to success in everything I do is keeping the right distance from it and always keeping involved in many different interests.” Campriani credits the great mentorship he found at West Virginia University for helping him become the successful person he is today. Among those mentors are Jon Hammond, coach of WVU’s Rifle Team; Edward Etzel, sports psychologist and professor of sport and exercise psychology; and Jack Byrd, professor of industrial and management systems engineering. “I really felt like part of a family at WVU, and this unique sense of belonging is something that is hard to explain to those that haven’t gone through the experience,” said Campriani. “Not only did WVU help me become a better shooter and engineer, but I became a better man because of my experiences, and I will always be extremely grateful for that.”

“Not only did WVU help me become a better shooter and engineer, but I became a better man because of my experiences, and I will always be extremely grateful for that.�

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


alumni News

Alumni come back to recruit at WVU engineering career fair By Bernadette Dombrowski

Photo: J.P. Nesbit



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Spring 2016


Career fairs can be nerve-wracking. For freshmen, sophomores and juniors, the future of their careers can ride on placement into a respected internship or co-op. For seniors about to graduate, the pressure to find a position in the real-world can add overwhelming anxiety to a year already filled with tough classes and rigorous schedules. When the doors opened at the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources’ two-day career fair last fall, nearly 80 percent of the 150 companies in attendance sought to ease the pressure by sending back employees who have stood in the shoes of these Statler College students, according to Sarah Glenn, assistant director of employer relations at West Virginia University’s Career Services Center. “Alumni are our greatest advocates when establishing recruiting relationships with new companies,” said Glenn. “The quality of their work provides the organization with an inside look at the talented, hardworking and intelligent graduates coming from WVU each year.” This inside look is what sends Braskem, an international petrochemical company, back to the Statler College career fair year after year. “I fully believe that my success at Braskem thus far comes from the preparation I received from my classes and professors at WVU,” said Riley Stevens, a May 2015 chemical engineering graduate. Stevens is in the associate program at Braskem, which is designed to give new employees a thorough understanding of the entire company. She will rotate through two, yearlong positions before receiving her final placement. Coming back to WVU to recruit fellow Mountaineers just seemed right. “The more gold and blue we get the better,” she said. “At Braskem, we believe you are the CEO of your career. WVU prepares its students to hit the ground running and fit into that company culture.” As a junior design engineer at Bohler Engineering, Greg Pais was happy to come back to WVU and help recruit for the company’s internships and full-time positions. A 2015 civil engineering alumnus, Pais knows just how vital the College’s career fairs can be to a student’s start in industry. “Attending the career fair as a student was a great way for me to learn more about the companies hiring with my degree and find out what they had to offer,” said Pais. “After talking with Bohler Engineering at the career fair last year, I received an interview a few weeks later. I’ve been with the company for four months now.”


Chris Del Checcolo, a DevOps engineer at Noblis, likes to come back to recruit at WVU to inspire students to take advantage of the opportunities he wasn’t aware existed when he was a student. “I really wasn’t aware of all the opportunities available to me that I really would have loved to take advantage of,” said Del Checcolo, who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science in 2003 and 2005, respectively. “It’s really nice to come back and talk to WVU students about it and encourage them to take advantage of these opportunities, especially since I know what it’s like.”


As a company overflowing with alumni, Del Checcolo and his colleagues at Noblis have found that WVU produces the right kind of well-rounded employee for the company’s culture. “Coming out of school, I was impressed with just how well the computer science program here prepared me to join the workforce,” he said. “We continue to get quality employees from recruiting at WVU.” An experienced Statler career fair recruiter, Randy Moulton, chief engineer at Triad Engineering, was looking to fill full-time positions and internships at this year’s event. For Moulton, whose father was one of the founders of Triad, summer and winter break internships were a staple during his collegiate career.

Del Checcolo

“While I was in school I worked through my breaks, evenings and weekends for Triad,” said Moulton, who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering in 1976 and 1980, respectively. “By 1978, I was working full-time for the company while finishing school. I’ve been here ever since.” Moulton believes that WVU offers him the best wellrounded, hard-working employees. “We don’t necessarily have to have the students with the highest grade point average; what we want are employees that have a passion to do good work and have good energy,” said Moulton. “We will train our employees from the ground up, but we like the solid foundation we find in employees that received their education at WVU. We try to be as faithful as possible when it comes to hiring WVU graduates.”


WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


alumni News

Statler alumni named to “Most Loyals” list Two alumni of the Statler College – Woody Thrasher and Melissa Morris – were honored as “Most Loyals” during the 68th annual Mountaineer Week. Thrasher, who was named “Most Loyal Alumni,” is president of the Thrasher Group, a leading mid-Atlantic civil and environmental consulting engineering firm. A highly successful engineer and businessman, Thrasher graduated from WVU in 1977 with a degree in civil engineering. He is a past president of the West Virginia American Council of Engineering Companies and the West Virginia Society of Professional Engineers. In 2000, Thrasher was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the national professional services firm of Ernst and Young. Thrasher remains very active with this alma mater. In 2012, he was elected to the WVU Alumni Association Board of Directors, and currently serves as its vice chairman. He is a distinguished alumnus of the Statler College and has been active on various committees within the College. He also has served as an officer or on the board of directors for numerous civic and charitable organizations. Thrasher, of Clarksburg, has three sons, Cody, Austin and Caelin. Named “Most Loyal Faculty/Professional Staff and Classified Staff Mountaineer,” Morris is a teaching assistant professor and academic advisor in the Statler College, where she works with freshmen students. Morris earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as her doctorate from WVU in mechanical engineering. She serves as chief advisor for WVU’s Chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the National Engineering Honorary. Morris also serves as the faculty advisor for the professional and social engineering society, Alpha Omega Epsilon, WVU Club Paintball and WVU eSports. Morris is a past recipient of the WVU Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Nicholas Evans Award for Advising Excellence. In 2012, she was named Statler College Teacher of the Year and John R. Williams Outstanding Teacher. In 2015, she was named as an outstanding advisor in the Statler College. Morris resides in Morgantown.



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PHoto: M.G. Ellis

Spring 2016


Corsi, Currie Inducted Into Academy of Industrial Engineers


Robert E. Corsi Jr., a 1975 graduate of West Virginia University with a master’s degree in industrial engineering, and Kenneth Currie, who earned all three of his degrees from the department he now chairs, were inducted in the Academy of

Industrial Engineers this past fall. Corsi’s professional career spans 45 years with the United States Air Force, both in an active duty and civilian capacity, where he is now a member of the Senior Executive Service. He currently is the assistant deputy chief of staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. He is responsible for comprehensive plans and policies covering all life cycles of military and civilian personnel management, including military and civilian end strength management; education and training; compensation and resource allocation; and the delivery of fully qualified airmen and airwomen for the Joint warfighter, while also meeting all the needs of their families. He oversees the execution and programming of the Manpower, Personnel and Services portfolio with an annual personnel budget of $40.9 billion for 660,000 military and civilian total force airmen and airwomen. Before returning to his alma mater, Currie served as a member of the industrial and systems engineering faculty at Tennessee Technological University and as director of its Center for Manufacturing currie Research. During that time, he was either principal or co-principal investigator on more than $9 million in externally funded research with a client list that included the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, Oak Ridge National Laboratories and the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing, among others. He also served as the associate director of the DOE-funded Industrial Assessment Center, which offered energy assessments to small and medium-sized industrial clients at no cost to the industry. He was named chair of the Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering at WVU in July 2014.

alumni news of note

WVU alumna Kimberly Ayers has been named to the Denver Business Journal’s Top Women in Energy list. Ayers is a reservoir engineer for Inflection Energy LLC.

Jason Davis isn’t an engineer but that doesn’t stop him from writing about it. The Fairmont native spent many years in the Statler College, first as a student, then as a student worker, before embarking on a career that would eventually lead him back to the engineering industry.

For more information: http://bit.ly/1Xe1SBJ

For more information: http://bit.ly/1o0Sky4

David Doman, a 1991 graduate of mechanical of aerospace engineering, been named a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for contributions to flight dynamics and control. IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement. Doman is a member of MAE’s advisory committee and its Academy of Distinguished Alumni.



Michael D. Flowers, president and chief executive officer of American Bridge Company, was inducted into the National Academy of Construction. The 2015 class included 26 new inductees. More than 250 industry leaders were considered for the rigorous nomination and election process. Flowers earned his civil engineering degree from WVU in 1974.

While three-time WVU alumna Kerri Phillips is busy with her own career, she’s never too busy to return to her alma mater to encourage future generations of girls interested in engineering. She did just that this summer, visiting the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources’ AllFemale Engineering Challenge Camp. phillips

For more information: http://bit.ly/1Q7mQMG

John P. “Jack” Dever was named executive vice president and chief technology officer of Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center in South Charleston. Dever joined MATRIC in 2011 as director of process development and process engineering. Prior to MATRIC, Dever held technology and management roles of increasing responsibility for more than 30 years at Union Carbide and Dow Chemical. Dever earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from WVU in 1979 and 1981, respectively. WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


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

West Virginia University Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources PO Box 6070, Morgantown, WV 26506-6070 Address correction requested

save the dates Statler College Commencement May 14, 2016

West Virginia State Fair August 12-21, 2016

Football Tents WVU vs. Kansas State October 1, 2016 WVU vs. Kansas November 5, 2016



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Faculty Hiring 2016-2017 The Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources is recruiting for open faculty positions in the 2016-2017 academic year. For more information visit: employmentservices.hr.wvu.edu/wvu_ jobs.

September 29, 2016 Location: West Virginia University / Erickson Alumni Center Ruby Grand Hall / One Alumni Drive Morgantown, WV 26504 Date: September 29, 2016 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Reception follows.


EngineeringWV Spring 2016  

West Virginia University's Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources 2016 spring magazine featuring the Center for Al...

EngineeringWV Spring 2016  

West Virginia University's Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources 2016 spring magazine featuring the Center for Al...

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