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Teach and be Taught: the Two Sides of

Undergraduate Research

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EWV | College News

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.






First-Ever Field Laboratory for the Long-Term Study of Shale Gas Resources


COVER FEATURE: Teach and be Taught: the Two Sides of Undergraduate Research Students Hope SecureSelfies App Equals Secure Future Alum Accepts Motor Trend Truck of the Year Award Watts’ Donate Time, Financial Resources to Museum’s Mission

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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 Contributing Writers / Bernadette Dombrowski / Bart Keeler / Deb Miller / Marissa Sura Nesbit

Photography / Greg Ellis / Bart Keeler / J. Paige Nesbit / Brian Persinger

Dean Gene Cilento

Address West Virginia University Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources PO Box 6070 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6070 www.statler.wvu.edu

Message from the Dean

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

It is no secret that faculty in the Statler College are some of the most prolific researchers at West Virginia University. And when most people think of students assisting them, they almost always think of graduate students. But one of the things that I am most proud of is the level and quality of research that is being conducted at the undergraduate level.

Engineering West Virginia is published twice each year, in spring and fall for the alumni, friends and other supporters of the WVU Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. Copyright ©2015 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 editor for permission to reprint entire articles.

In virtually every discipline, undergraduates have the opportunity to work side-by-side with faculty mentors on groundbreaking research. This type of hands-on learning is important for a number of reasons: it reinforces knowledge learned in the classroom and invariably leads to a better understanding of and a deeper appreciation for the discipline under investigation. It can also help to clarify a student’s career goals.

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.

Studies have shown that retention and graduation rates also increase when students have the opportunity to establish a mentoring relationship with a faculty member. And it’s a win-win situation: students benefit from the wisdom, knowledge and experience of a mentor, while faculty members benefit from the questions students ask, the discoveries they make and the energy and enthusiasm they bring to the project.

In addition to the students featured in our cover story, in this issue you will read

WVU was also the recipient of more than $1 million from the National Science Foundation to support its work in composite material research. Under the direction of Hota GangaRao, the Maurice A. and JoAnn Wadsworth Distinguished Professor of civil and environmental engineering, the grant will support work currently being done in the College’s Center for Integration of Composites into Infrastructure. It will also establish a joint research and development program with Nanjing Tech University in China, which will include academic programming for both WVU and Chinese students. A relatively new member of our faculty, John Christian, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, was also the recipient of a prestigious grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. He is among 57 scientists who will receive a portion of $16.6 million in total grants through the Air Force’s Young Investigator Research Program for work that can help model and classify distant objects and their features quicker than ever before. In every instance, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, our students will be involved in these efforts.

Eugene V. Cilento Glen H. Hiner Dean and Professor


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I am proud to say that in the Statler College, research is an important theme that threads its way through the undergraduate experience from the first year through to graduation. From Andy Maloney, who met his mentor, Cerasela Zoica Dinu, at a recruitment event, to Jordan Drew, who found his opportunity with help from the McNair Scholars program, the ways in which our students find their research niche is as varied as the students themselves.

about the creation of the first-ever longterm, comprehensive field study of shale gas resources. Researchers from civil and environmental engineering and petroleum and natural gas engineering will be participating in the study, which will allow the research team to create and manage the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory, a field site and dedicated model research laboratory at the Morgantown Industrial Park.


EWV | Research News

WVU Creates First-Ever Field Laboratory for the Long-Term Study of Shale Gas Resources By Marissa Sura

As the Appalachian Region feels the impact of the burgeoning shale-energy industry, a consortium of researchers and industrial partners led by West Virginia University, with the assistance of Ohio State University, will conduct the first-ever long-term, comprehensive field study of a natural resource that has changed the country’s – and the world’s – energy supply. The five-year, $11 million agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy will allow the research team to create and manage the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory, a field site and dedicated research laboratory at the Morgantown Industrial Park.

Spring 2015

Together with the DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory and Northeast Natural Energy, a Charlestonbased private oil and natural gas company that owns and operates the site, the lab will engage a unique and diverse team of geoscientists, hydrologists, engineers, ecologists, social scientists and public health professionals. The team will identify and demonstrate technologies required for best practices in environmentally responsible shale development, from drilling to completion through production.


Additionally, the lab will offer realworld education and training for undergraduate and graduate students to address the complex technical, environmental and social issues surrounding unconventional energy development and production. “To date, there has been no comprehensive long-term field study that addresses baseline measurements, subsurface development and


environmental monitoring with unconventional resource development,” said Timothy Carr, WVU’s Marshall Miller professor of geology, principal investigator of the award and director of the lab. “No other study can replicate and validate results with subsequent drilling and completion events. The only way to integrate the three is to conduct longterm research on a single site, which is what we are going to be able to do.” Ohio State will work with WVU to provide support of subsurface scientific investigations of the geology and microbiology from samples taken in the drill hole, along with guidance and support for the environmental work at the site. “This cooperative study will maximize the energy and environmental research strengths of both universities,” said Jeff Daniels, director of the Ohio State Subsurface Energy Resource Center and primary investigator for Ohio State. “And the study will form the foundation for a lasting partnership between WVU and Ohio State in energy and environmental research and education.” “The DOE/NETL is excited about this new partnership and the opportunity to demonstrate cutting-edge science and advanced technologies to ensure the

prudent development of the nation’s shale gas resources in an efficient and environmentally safe fashion,” said Jared Ciferno, director of NETL’s Strategic Center for Natural Gas and Oil. “It is envisioned that this partnership will be the first of many long-term, field-based opportunities that will bring science and technology to the forefront in shaping our nation’s energy future.” “We have deep roots in West Virginia and it is our goal to help any way we can,” said Mike John, chief executive officer of Northeast Natural Energy. “Our participation in this project is driven by our desire to help improve science, enhance technology and expand understanding of the natural gas industry. The Morgantown Industrial Park site offers a convenient location for researchers and students to conduct their studies, and we look forward to working together with them on this project.” “Northeast Natural Energy works to responsibly develop resources in an environmentally sensitive way, as evidenced by their operations in the Morgantown Industrial Park and elsewhere in Monongalia County,” Carr said. “This is a great partnership, and we look forward to getting the project under way.”

Morgantown Industrial Park (Photo courtesy of Northeast Natural Energy)

Shale gas is part of a new category of natural resources called “unconventional oil and gas.” As recently as 20 years ago these resources were thought to be unobtainable, but recent breakthroughs provided new technologies that allow them to be accessed. Shale gas is natural gas that is trapped inside formations of shale – sedimentary rock found deep underground. To release it, shale-gas producers drill a deep vertical well and then use a combination of technologies to target horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (or fracking), which uses pressurized water, sand and chemicals to crack subsurface rock and create fissures that release natural gas.

Additionally, recent news reports state that fracking and other unconventional techniques have already doubled North American natural gas reserves to three

“The economic, national security and environmental benefits to shale-gas development are significant,” Carr explains. “But that growth must be managed in a responsible manner, which will require comprehensive scientific data and measurement.” The Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory will allow the team to address critical gaps of knowledge of the characterization, basic subsurface science and completion and stimulation strategies that enable more efficient resource recovery from fewer wells with reduced environmental impact. The primary objectives of the project include providing a longterm research site with an existing well and documented production and environment baseline from two previously completed wells. A dedicated scientific-observation well will be used to collect detailed subsurface data and to monitor and test technologies in additional wells to be drilled periodically over the project lifetime.

The site also offers a unique opportunity to enable an open, collaborative and integrated program of science and technology development and testing to minimize environmental impacts while maximizing economic benefits. In addition to Carr, researchers from the following areas at WVU are participating in the study. • Civil and Environmental Engineering • Geology and Geography • Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering • Public Administration • Public Health • Regional Research Institute • Geographic Information Systems Tech Center • West Virginia Water Research Institute The project is operated under the purview of a 2013 memorandum of understanding between WVU and Ohio State. As part of the shale-energy partnership, the two institutions agreed to work collaboratively to develop a joint program of research in the Appalachian Region’s developing shale energy industry.

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Shale gas has been heralded as a “game changer” for energy markets, particularly in the United States, where energy resources have been in decline and where shale-gas reserves are plentiful. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2000, shale gas production represented only 1 percent of American natural gas production, but by 2035, shale gas will represent nearly half.

quadrillion cubic feet, which is nearly equal to 500 billion barrels of oil, or almost double the crude inventory of Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil producer.


EWV | Research News

WVU Receives More Than $1 Million from the National Science Foundation for Composite Material Research By Marissa Sura

With concern growing about the safety of the nation’s bridges and other infrastructure, West Virginia University researchers studying how composite materials can be used to address the issues have received two National Science Foundation grants totaling more than $1 million.

Spring 2015

Composites can enhance the service life of a structure and minimize the cost of field implementation both in terms of real dollars and disruptions to traffic.


The first award provides base funding of $484,999 over a five-year period to support phase-two activities at the Center for Integration of Composites into Infrastructure, which is headquartered in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. CICI’s mission is to accelerate the adoption of composites — carbon or glass fibers bonded with polymer resins


— into infrastructure systems such as bridges and buildings.

other structures age, they are rapidly deteriorating and in need of repair.

The second award, $600,000 over a three-year period, builds on the success of CICI. The center plans to hire an innovative managing director who will be charged with engaging additional government agencies and industry and university partners in its work, providing benefits to all participants.

One in nine of the nation’s bridges are rated as structurally deficient and their average age is 42 years. With more than 200 million trips taken daily across deficient bridges in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, there is significant need for technology that will ease the cost burden and extend the life of these necessary structures.

Concrete, steel and timber are the backbones of the physical infrastructure of our nation. But as public roads, bridges, railways, buildings and

Composite materials are noncorrosive, more durable and cheaper to install than more traditional methods, making

“We can create Band-Aid type applications of fabric dipped in resin that can be wrapped around a structure.” them ideal for not only the construction of new structures, but also for the repair of aging structures. Hota GangaRao, CICI director and director of WVU’s Constructed Facilities Center, said the material can be implemented in several ways. “We can manufacture these composite materials on a high-volume basis and assemble them in the field,” GangaRao said. “We can create Band-Aid type applications of fabric dipped in resin that can be wrapped around a structure. We can also pre-impregnate materials with resin so that they are easier to use in the field.”

Last year WVU worked with the United States Army Corps of Engineers to rehabilitate East Fork Lake Campground Bridge south of Huntington, at one-third of the replacement cost. The 40-yearold bridge had severely corroded piles — long columns driven deep in to the

“Using a combination of composite shells, wraps and self-consolidating concrete, we were able to encase the steel piles to prevent future corrosion while restoring the load-carrying capacity of the bridge,” GangaRao explained. The work won the USACE Great Lakes and Ohio River Division’s 2014 Engineering Excellence Award and the USACE National Innovation of the Year Award for 2014. “This is just a small but very significant example of how repairs can be made at a substantial cost savings while minimizing disruption to the community, improving durability and reducing the need for maintenance,” GangaRao said. WVU’s leadership in the field of composite materials is being recognized internationally. As part of phase two, CICI has established a joint research and development program with Nanjing Tech University in China, which will include academic programming for both WVU and Chinese students. Under GangaRao’s leadership, WVU is also

working on developing an international program for use of composites with partners in Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Japan. CICI was founded in 2009 at WVU with base funding from the NSF through its Industry/University Cooperative Research Center program. The program provides a base award for administration while university sites generate memberships to support research. CICI is a successful example of how the program can leverage research funding from government and private companies. WVU is the lead institution in CICI. North Carolina State University and the University of Miami are full U.S. site partners, and Nanjing Tech is an international partner. CICI is working on expanding to include the University of Texas at Arlington. Additionally, the Chinese National Natural Science Foundation is hoping to emulate the NSF I/UCRC model, with Nanjing Tech being the first Chinese university to join an I/UCRC. NSF has provided travel funding to WVU to help Nanjing Tech establish its site.

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GangaRao, the Maurice A. and JoAnn Wadsworth Distinguished Professor of civil and environmental engineering, said this technology is already making a difference in West Virginia.

ground — that had weakened the structure.


EWV | Research News

Van Scoy Conducts Wearable Technology Research By Bernadette Dombrowski

photography by J. Paige Nesbit

Students in West Virginia University’s Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering are conducting research using wearable technologies under the guidance of Frances Van Scoy.

EEG technologies were once so expensive that they could only be found in hospitals and medical centers, but the Emotiv neuroheadset is currently available to the public at the average price of a new gaming system.

Van Scoy, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering, was inspired to research the possible uses of wearable technologies after a friend suffered a traumatic brain injury. The injury resulted in aphasia, the impairment of language that affects the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write.

“The Emotiv neuroheadset can be a household technology,” said Baker, from Parkersburg. “The possibilities are endless.”

“Many victims of aphasia still have their intellect, personality and vocabulary,” explained Van Scoy. “But they have difficulty communicating it to others, which is where this technology could help.” The Emotiv neuroheadset is a high-resolution, multichannel, portable electroencephalography system that connects wirelessly to most computer systems. The headset has 14 EEG readers that are placed around the head. A group of students are using the Emotiv neuroheadset to create a thought-to-speech program that can be used for victims of stroke, aphasia or others maladies that affect speech. So far, the group has been able to recognize five words through the program. “We predefine words then train the user on the word and see if they can repeat it back,” explained Kathleen Baker, a senior computer science and women’s and gender studies dual major working on the project. “Currently we are using words that identify basic needs that if able to be communicated, could enhance the user’s quality of life.”

Spring 2015

The project builds on software that Van Scoy previously developed with students that could distinguish between 40 pizza toppings. Baker’s group has simplified the system and made it easier to use.


Van Scoy is also leading research on the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality head-mounted display that uses custom tracking technology to integrate movement into a natural experience in a game. Both projects are currently being funded by the Lane Department. “Fifteen years ago, the way to display 3-D data was in a cave automatic virtual environment, which costs more than $1 million,” noted Van Scoy. “The Oculus Rift creates the same data with much more functionality at a fraction of the cost.” Students are currently building a gaming chair and software program to accompany the Oculus Rift that allows users to sit in the chair and move with the game. Van Scoy foresees the use of this technology being applicable for more than gaming in the future. “Students could use the Oculus Rift to virtually walk down the street or tour a historical building that they’re learning about,” said Van Scoy. “It can change learning from something you’re told to something you experience. “For rehabilitation purposes, this 3-D visualization could help repair the executive function of the brain that is damaged in victims of stroke and traumatic brain injury. We can help get people out of nursing homes and rehabilitation centers and improve quality of life, [which is] reason enough to continue our research.”

Kathleen Baker


Francis Van Scoy

“Many victims of aphasia still have their intellect, personality and vocabulary,” explained Van Scoy. “But they have difficulty communicating it to others, which is where this technology could help.” volume 11 issue 1

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


EWV | Research News

Research News in Brief

Every Face Tells a Story It’s been said that every face tells a story. But can a face also predict a person’s build or risk for acquiring certain obesityrelated diseases? According to Guodong Guo, an assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering, the answer is yes. Guo and his team have developed an algorithm that can analyze a photo and predict a person’s body mass index. BMI is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify underweight, overweight and obesity in adults. Since it was first announced in 2013, Guo’s work has received accolades from academia, industry and government agencies. Thanks to a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Guo is now working to refine the technology in an effort to make it more robust by using more sources of information, such as the visual information from both human face and body.

Studying Thermal Cracking of Concrete in Bridges Roger Chen, professor of civil and environmental engineering, recently received a research grant from the West Virginia Department of Transportation for the second phase of a project studying thermal cracking of concrete in bridges. Chen is analyzing temperature differential in the concrete bridge caps and piers. These structures undergo a great deal of stress, but the greatest source of stress comes from temperature differential. In the first phase of the project, Chen tested the thermal behaviors of concrete structures that use class B concrete, which is commonly used in highway construction in West Virginia. It uses large amounts of cement and produces a lot of internal heat. Chen, in phase two, is studying thermal-friendly mixes that reduce the internal thermal temperature and the cracking potential. These mixtures substitute fly ash, the residue left from burning coal, or slag, the waste left over from creating steel, into the mixture. These additives give off less heat during the chemical reaction. For more information: http://bit.ly/13w7UXQ

Site Director of CITeR Named Matthew Valenti, professor of computer science and electrical engineering, has been named site director for the Center for Identification Technology Research. CITeR is a National Science Foundation Industry/ University Cooperative Research Center focused in the areas of biometric systems, security and credibility assessment.

For more information: http://bit.ly/11w4WC0

Spring 2015

CITeR is comprised of four universities — WVU, the University of Arizona, University at Buffalo and Clarkson University — with each focusing on a different area of expertise within biometrics. Most of WVU’s work is in the areas of biometrics, identification technology and systems, but Valenti sees these expanding in the years to come.




“We certainly have a lot of strengths in biometrics, most notably in face, iris and fingerprint recognition,” said Valenti. “I think these strengths can play a role as we expand our expertise into such emerging use areas as consumer electronics and cyber security.” For more information: http://bit.ly/11e5UCp

Advancing SOFC Technology

Highway safety David Martinelli, professor of civil and environmental engineering, has secured research grants from the West Virginia Division of Highways and the U.S. Department of Transportation to continue into the second phase of two projects dealing with highway safety.

Whether it’s the result of a snowstorm, a hurricane or an earthquake, virtually everyone has experienced the inconveniences of a power outage. But some countries, most notably Japan, have begun to use residential-scale power generation units that run off of solid Liu oxide fuel cells. A team of researchers, led by Xingbo Liu, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at West Virginia University, is working to advance SOFC technology in hopes of the trend catching on in America. SOFCs are electrochemical devices that use hydrogen, coal syngas or abandoned natural gas to power the cell. They offer significant advantages in terms of efficiency, fuel flexibility and impurity tolerance when compared to internal combustion engines, turbines or other types of fuel cell.

The first project deals with the evaluation of school zone traffic control strategies, while the second focuses on the state’s graduated driver’s license program.

According to Liu, who is partnering with researchers at Northwestern University and Fuel Cell Energy, the biggest detriment to its implementation is in two areas: cost and stability.

“Highway safety is one of the top priorities of West Virginia and the federal government,” explained Martinelli. “It’s a good sign that the WVDOH and USDOT turned to us at WVU for expertise in these areas of research.”

“Solid oxide fuel cells are expensive and degrade much too quickly to make them viable for the average homeowner,” said Liu. “Our goal is to provide solutions that help to extend the target life of the cell to about 40,000 hours of operation while bringing costs lower.”

For more information: http://bit.ly/1IHY3gV

For more information: http://bit.ly/1sZAt69

engineers and Asteroids Thomas Evans, research assistant professor of aerospace engineering, and Aaron Noble and Brijes Mishra, assistant professors of mining engineering, will create a robotic system for NASA that measures the strength, density and structure of asteroids. These measurements can then be used to design systems for asteroid capture, excavation and redirection, all of which are goals of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission.




For more information: http://bit.ly/1yg7rHe

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One has experience working with robots in space. The other two have experience in areas associated with mining, including mineral processing and rock mechanics. Together, these three researchers from West Virginia University will work to create a system that will provide data to NASA on asteroids.


EWV | Cover Feature

Teach and be Taught: the Two Sides of

Spring 2015

photography by J. Paige Nesbit





developing encouraging helping engaging successful predicting

simulating challenges learning

opportunities organizing

— Cerasela Zoica Dinu

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources

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“We grow up learning how to balance the things we get exposed to and their impacts on our personal life. We take those experiences and we apply them in our careers and in our interactions; we use them to define success.�


EWV | Cover Feature

A Challenge By Cerasela Zoica Dinu, Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering

“Becoming a Mountaineer has turned out to be one of my best life experiences to date.” Cerasela Zoica Dinu

I learned early on that success goes hand-in-hand with appreciation. Becoming a Mountaineer has turned out to be one of my best life experiences to date. I joined WVU in November 2009 after completing my postdoctoral tenure at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. WVU has helped me build my own identity as a researcher, teacher and mentor. I have become a contributor to the University’s mission to deliver highquality education; excel in discovery and innovation; model a culture of diversity and inclusion; promote health and vitality; and build pathways for the exchange of knowledge and opportunity between the state, the nation and the world. Through the sustained University-wide commitments to our state, I got involved with recruiting collegeready students. One of them was Andy Maloney, who I met in the fall of 2010 at an event at the president’s on-campus home Blaney House. Andy was a National Merit Scholar interested in attending WVU. I was representing my department, and I was delighted to share my excitement for WVU and chemical engineering with him. Andy’s passion for learning was obvious; most of his questions would start out with “Why” when I discussed my research in nanotechnology. His inquisitive mind got me excited about the potential to have him as a student if he decided to attend WVU. Andy’s experience at WVU is a perfect blend of student dedication, success and opportunities. Through my National Science Foundation grant, I’ve exposed Andy to fundamental science in the area of green-based technologies relying on enzymes for decontamination of biological agents.

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Andy realized early on that keeping his studies and research experience in balance is a learning process. He was committed to finding the time and to being an active contributor. I am appreciative that through the financial support of my NSF grant, and the support of our department chair, Rakesh Gupta; the Statler College dean, Gene Cilento; and our University, Andy got the chance to experience firsthand the metrics of his success.


Andy is knowledgeable, has a positive attitude and is motivated to make the extra effort; these are the types of leadership qualities that WVU is cultivating. This University — through its outreach and recruitment programs and with the teaching and mentorship of its students — not only allows us to keep talented students like Andy but also to reward them.


An Opportunity By Andy Maloney, Junior, Chemical Engineering

After meeting Dr. Dinu at the recruiting event, I was in contact with her over email. I spent a lot of time making sure that I would be a good fit in her lab; I visited her office on multiple occasions to talk more in depth about research before starting. After multiple meetings, I started working with her in the fall of my freshman year. Working in the lab was a tough balance between schoolwork and coordinating schedules with Dr. Dinu and Alan Campbell, a graduate student who was helping me in the beginning, but it ended up working out. Undergraduate research is incredibly important to me because it provides a way for me to challenge myself outside of the classroom. Not that my curriculum is easy by any means, but it is a great hands-on experience to learn about the scientific method and the importance of being meticulous and not getting discouraged when setbacks occur. It also has given me an incredible mentor in Dr. Dinu as she constantly challenges me to think about my research and the implications of what I am doing. It also gives me a good handle on what I like to do, and has helped me to decide if graduate school would be a good decision for me. From all of my experience, I have been able to decide to pursue my Ph.D. The opportunities have been endless! I have been able to travel to China with WVU through the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience program. I traveled to San Francisco and Atlanta to present my research at national conferences. And I spent the summer of 2014 working on my research project in Germany through the German Academic Exchange Service Research Internships in Science and Engineering. I’ve also co-authored a peer-reviewed publication in NanoLife, and I recently submitted another paper for review where I am the first author. Additionally, I have been fortunate enough to receive the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship because of these opportunities.

“Undergraduate research is incredibly important to me because it provides a way for me to challenge myself outside of the classroom.”

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Andy Maloney

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources


EWV | Cover Feature

Crossing the Intersection of Student and Professional By Bernadette Dombrowski

As West Virginia University’s campus and student body continue to grow, so does the amount of traffic congestion surrounding downtown Morgantown. The congestion, which comes to a complete standstill at Grumbein’s Island in front of the WVU Mountainlair when classes are changing, is a major challenge that affects commute time and pedestrian safety. When WVU’s Student Government Association resolved to fix the congestion, they looked to Colin Frosch, a senior civil engineering major focusing in transportation. Under the guidance of civil engineering faculty members Avinash Unnikrishnan and David Martinelli, Frosch set out to build a study of the traffic patterns surrounding the Mountainlair and downtown Morgantown. Frosch was joined by Elijah Meyer, a senior civil engineering major from Beverly, to assist in his research. “SGA had originally suggested simulating the rerouting of traffic behind the Mountainlair as an acceptable way to ease congestion,” explained Frosch, a Fairmont, native. “But I wanted to take that one step further and look at other alternatives.” Frosch gathered more than 40 student volunteers to collect data. Using equipment loaned by the West Virginia Local Technical Assistance Program, volunteers documented the number of vehicles that used each intersection surrounding the Mountainlair, the number of cars that passed Grumbein’s Island, the speed of each vehicle and the turns they took. “Organizing a massive data collection effort with a purely volunteer effort is a very difficult task,” said Unnikrishnan. “It is a testament to Colin’s leadership ability that he was able to pull it off successfully.” With this data, Frosch simulated current traffic situations and alternatives. The first alternative was to reroute all traffic behind the Mountainlair onto Maiden Lane, where traffic could then reconnect with North High Street. Another alternative was to separate vehicle and pedestrian traffic with a bridge or tunnel in front of the Mountainlair. Neither of these options worked well in simulation.

Spring 2015

“Redirecting traffic behind the Mountainlair would actually increase travel time, so that wasn’t a good option,” said Frosch. “The problem with a bridge or tunnel infrastructure, which has been proposed many times in the past, is that it has a much higher cost.”


After brainstorming with his research team, Frosch proposed the idea of shared space. Invented in the late 20th century by Hans Monderman, shared space joins pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular traffic in a design that eliminates traffic signals, curbs and crosswalks. By eliminating all traffic demarcation, user awareness increases and creates a space of equal opportunity and efficiency for all traffic.


“Shared space will create an open market feel in the middle of the downtown campus,” said Frosch. “Using brick or stamped concrete, it will enhance the aesthetics of the campus and create a community atmosphere.” Simulations of shared space in front of the Mountainlair estimate a 30 to 40 percent decrease in travel time for vehicular traffic. After meeting with WVU President E. Gordon Gee and members of the WVU Board of Governors, Frosch was given the green light to proceed with the shared space concept. Frosch created conceptual designs showcasing how shared space would complement the downtown campus. The next steps in the project will include consulting with a professional engineering firm, creating financial statements and conducting public opinion surveys. “This has been the project I’ve been most excited about. It would be great to see one of my designs chosen and for the project to come full circle before my time at WVU comes to an end,” Frosch added, explaining his plans to pursue his master’s degree after graduation in May and apply the project to his thesis. “Colin took the lead on every task from the start,” said Unnikrishnan, who praised Frosch’s dedication to the project. “He is an extremely talented student, and the technical skills and proficiency he has learned during his research will benefit his career.” Frosch has also played an integral role in other projects during his college career. As a freshman, Frosch traveled to Fiji with Engineers Without Borders to help implement a water filtration system. Now, as president of the WVU chapter, Frosch plans community and international projects for the chapter to better lives through engineering. As a sophomore, Frosch collaborated with Unnikrishnan; Martinelli; Andrew Nichols from Marshall University; David Palley, a civil engineering major from Walnut Creek, California; and Rachel James, BSCE ’14, who is currently a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, on the evaluation of roundabouts constructed as a part of the Gateway Connector in Fairmont. The project, funded by the West Virginia Department of Highways, examined public knowledge of how to correctly use the roundabouts and opinions on safety and comfort levels. “Everyone interacts with transportation in some way, so everyone in the community has a story,” said Frosch. “I’m glad I’ve been able to use my knowledge and apply it to help my community.”

Colin Frosch

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources

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“It would be great to see one of my designs chosen and for the project to come full circle before my time at WVU comes to an end.�


EWV | Cover Feature

Producing Engaging, Groundbreaking Research by Bart Keeler

As the natural gas industry booms in the region surrounding West Virginia University, many people are concerned about the environmental impact associated with drilling for shale gas. One concern centers on the plugging and abandonment of wells that are no longer considered profitable. Jessica Spears, a junior petroleum and natural gas engineering student, is working to find a way to makes these wells profitable again by turning them into a source of geothermal energy. Geothermal energy comes from the steam produced by circulating a fluid from beneath the earth to its surface. While most geothermal projects are centered in the western part of the country, Spears thinks this region could also be rich in geothermal energy. By comparing the costs of these methods to the costs associated with plugging and abandoning wells, she hopes to show an alternative way to invest in energy production. Born and raised in southern West Virginia, Spears understands how important the energy industry is to the state, but also understands the advantages of searching for new energy sources. “I was raised in Sylvester, a small town in Boone County, which is one of the top coal-producing counties in the state,” she said. “With the coal mining industry on the decline, I hope geothermal energy could potentially pick up some of the slack from the coal industry.” Spears wants to find “environmentally friendly methods within the energy industry that may potentially create jobs in West Virginia.”

Spring 2015

As part of her research, she is gathering information on the plugging and abandoning practices currently used by the industry. She is then analyzing the costs associated with this practice, which is usually conducted by service companies, rather than an operator.


Spears is studying wells in West Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and California to ensure all industry centers are being covered. However, she says that acquiring this data is more difficult than she expected because it is proprietary information. To her, this is all part of the learning process. “I’m confident that I’ll figure out a way to model the costs,” she said. “This is definitely a flaw in my research, but I believe I will be able to find a solution to it.”


Her adviser, Sam Ameri, chairman of the Department of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, believes her research has the potential to “produce engaging and groundbreaking research” for the industry. “I hope to show that if we take the cost invested into plugging and abandoning procedures, we can produce geothermal energy through a plant or sell the well to a nearby homeowner for residential energy production,” Spears explained. Ameri lauds Spears’ growth and insatiable desire to learn through her coursework and current research. “Jessica is an excellent student with tremendous potential. She is a fast learner and holds herself to a high standard of ethics,” said Ameri. “As a young student, Jessica already has shown substantial growth. She is bright, inquisitive and likes to be well-versed and knowledgeable about a variety of subject matter.” Spears said she’s learned “how tedious details are” and that she has to be thorough with her research. “I have to be patient because there are weeks where all I do is read and although I have learned a lot, I won’t have a lot to show for it,” she said. Spears has also discovered a lot about herself during this research process, calling herself stubborn. However, she’s also learned how to turn this into a positive. “My stubbornness is actually why I ended up with my topic,” she said. “Chairman Ameri suggested other research topics, but I wanted a bigger project that I felt could one day change this industry. In a way, being stubborn works to my advantage because I keep working on something until I get it right.” Spears hopes to one day implement this research in the natural gas industry and help create a new energy industry in her home state. “I want to help solve the problems that arise with recycling wells for geothermal energy extraction. I can’t think of a more exciting alternative,” she said. “If I ever end up with my dream job, I’d be creating jobs and helping the environment.”

“If I ever end up with my dream job, I’d be creating jobs and helping the environment.” Jessica Spears

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EWV | Cover Feature

Brandon Johnston

Spring 2015

“UAVs can fly longer and farther; there are so many more capabilities with them. You’re only limited by your imagination.”



Navigating the World of Autonomous Vehicles By Bart Keeler

For most people, flying a remote-controlled quadcopter or airplane or driving a rover would be a lot of fun. But for Brandon Johnston, a senior mechanical and aerospace engineering student, it’s work. The Buckhannon native is part of a research team working to better locate unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. “We’ve come from the Wright Brothers to where we can fly stuff with nobody in it,” Johnston said. “UAVs can fly longer and farther; there are so many more capabilities with them. You’re only limited by your imagination.” When classes ended in May 2014, Johnston began his research work with Jason Gross, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. He designed, built and tested a small rover that was designed to give Gross a database of initial results for his navigation research. The rover included GPS and inertial measurement units, which work together to locate the rover. Gross, a WVU alum who formerly worked in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California, heads up WVU’s Precision Navigation Group, which is researching the use of kinematic precise point positioning through a high-tech GPS processing software owned by NASA. The goal is to find the best ways to support GPS systems on aircraft. “Brandon’s work has provided our team with a testbed for experimental research,” said Gross. “Because of his initial successful prototype, we decided to expand upon his design and build a more advanced rover for navigation research.” Johnston has been awarded a NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium scholarship to continue to work with Gross on this research.

Johnston is working on another project that is trying to track rockets as they take off. The challenge the team is trying to overcome is speed. Rockets travel at high speeds and are virtually undetectable for the first part of their journey because they are in a metal shell that blocks the signal from the receiver. The team is trying to figure out how to track them quickly after the receiver emerges from the shell. The GPS and IMUs take time, albeit short, to send the signal to the receiver. Though these signals are fine for cars or airplanes, when an object is moving at the speeds of a rocket, the time lapse is exacerbated. Johnston was the mechanical lead on the WVU Mars Rover Team that won the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts-Academic Linkage Exploration Robo-Ops Competition sponsored by NASA in Houston, Texas, this past summer. “That sparked my interest in robotics,” he explained, “but I’ve always been interested in navigation in general.” Through this research, Johnston has not only discovered what he wants to do with his career, but has also learned the trials that may come with this path. “I’ve learned that you can’t give up, that you will have issues and setbacks, but that you have to keep trying,” Johnston said. “I’ve also learned a lot about electronics and other things I didn’t learn in class.” “Brandon is hard-working and diligent,” said Gross. “I’ve witnessed his confidence level increase significantly whenever I ask him to do something that he has little past experience or background with, and this is probably the most important thing he has gained as an undergraduate research assistant.”

This research is vital as aircraft continue to move toward autonomous navigation. This is what fascinates Johnston about the mechanical and aerospace field. WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources

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Johnston drives to Jackson’s Mill, which is just south of Clarksburg, to fly the copter and to gather location data. The GPS and IMUs are attached to the airplanes and send location data to a computer. This data is then analyzed by Gross’ team.

“Everything is moving toward being autonomous,” he said. “UAVs are great for testing the atmosphere and predicting weather, and especially for getting into the places we don’t want to send humans.”


EWV | Cover Feature

Breaking Down Barriers in STEM Education By Bernadette Dombrowski

Spring 2015

Kathleen Baker



“I was never told as a child that because I’m a girl, I can’t do something.”

As a West Virginia University STEM ambassador, Kathleen Baker, a senior computer science and women’s and gender studies dual major from Parkersburg, provided youth across West Virginia the opportunity to engage in hands-on science, technology, engineering and math projects at 4-H camps throughout the summer. After her first summer in the program, Baker’s interest was piqued. She found an overwhelming number of young girls who believed they could not, or should not, join STEM classes because of their gender. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Baker fielded questions from young boys on how she qualified to teach STEM classes because she was a woman. “I was never told as a child that because I am a girl, I can’t do something,” said Baker. “It bothered me so much and I realized just how big of a problem gender roles play in youth education.” Under the guidance of women’s and gender studies faculty member Kasi Jackson, Baker began her research in 2013 during her second summer as a STEM ambassador. She conducted field observations at five 4-H camps in counties throughout West Virginia. After each observation, Baker categorized each interaction as friendly, traditional or uncomfortable. Friendly interactions were defined as informal, casual interactions outside of STEM classes; traditional interactions demonstrated implied and perceived gender roles about girls; and uncomfortable interactions involved youth appearing to feel insecure or unsure of the topic of women in science.

But Baker knew youth weren’t born with gender stereotypes in their minds and realized that they had to be learned somewhere. “I looked back at my observations and realized in many cases, the attitudes and behaviors of adults were actually discouraging girls from participating in science,” said Baker. “When adults encourage these typical gender roles, girls do not feel confident enough to break the mold.” Baker presented her findings to Jennifer RobertsonHonecker, assistant professor and WVU Extension STEM specialist. Robertson-Honecker acknowledged the need for inclusive approaches when teaching STEM education. “For many campers, especially in rural counties, the STEM ambassador is their first encounter with a scientist or engineer,” said Robertson-Honecker. “We need to encourage and support young females so we can provide the most profound impact in breaking down these mental barriers and stereotypes.” Baker recommended that adults employed in influential positions to youth complete gender role courses to complement their training within these programs. “It would be beneficial to have a discussion about gender and how we, as mentors, counselors and advisers, should not limit girls’ interests based on perceived gender roles, and we should give them the confidence to get involved in STEM activities,” said Baker. Baker’s research gained national attention at the National Women’s Studies Association Annual Conference held November 8-11, 2013, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Baker was featured as a speaker on the panel, Still Falling Short: Current Issues in STEM Fields. The panel focused on problems currently plaguing women in STEM fields.

“Kathleen is an excellent example of how providing training in the humanities to students in technical fields can provide them with a unique perspective,” said Jackson. “She is well positioned to address this critical issue and get more students interested in STEM fields.”

“This is Kathleen’s passion, and she loved challenging and encouraging students to think differently about their futures,” said Jackson. “Her idea to link her outreach work to a research project is something that I would love to see more WVU students and faculty doing.”

Baker’s research suggested that peer support was a major factor when it came to girls getting involved in STEM activities. Boys, on the other hand, were more likely to be involved in STEM activities with or without peer support.

Baker wants to continue researching the impact of STEM outreach programs on a state and national level in graduate school. By learning how to break down the barriers for young girls to participate in STEM fields, Baker hopes to increase the overall brainpower being used to solve global issues.

“More often than not, girls would try to convince a friend to get involved in a STEM activity and these girls were more likely to participate as a group,” said Baker. “This shows that socialization may be hindering young girls’ participation in STEM activities.”

“Not every woman has to go into a STEM field, but it’s about knowing these opportunities exist,” said Baker. “If we can break down the barriers for women in science, I can only imagine the positive impact it would have on WVU and the state of West Virginia.”

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At the conclusion of the study, Baker found that traditional interactions happened five times more than uncomfortable interactions. The reappearance of so many traditional interactions solidified that youth at these camps had a defined concept of gender roles and accepted them.


EWV | Cover Feature

Going Beyond Normal Biometric Collection By Bart Keeler

Jordan Drew seems to have mapped out his academic career quite well. The 2014 McNair Scholar from Laurel, Maryland, sees for himself a future in biomedical engineering research that will link the body and mind in a biometric application. “The body is a really awesome computer, and I want to integrate biology and technology,” said Drew, a senior majoring in biometric systems engineering. “DNA is the software to the body’s hardware.” To prepare for his future in academia, Drew is using his senior year at WVU to work under the guidance of Jeremy Dawson, research assistant professor in the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, on a project that goes beyond normal biometric systems collection. Dawson is leading a research project to study the degradation of the DNA structure from samples that come from non-ideal sites, such as crime scenes. The goal is to develop a software tool that will be able to read signals from DNA samples that have been degraded and create a better DNA profile through mathematical predictions. “This is taking molecular signatures instead of physical signatures,” explained Drew. “DNA analyzer tools are very sensitive, unlike a fingerprint or retina scan, but biometric systems are all about rapid response. “Because there is a low chance for a good profile from a crime scene, we’re trying to construct a profile of what the DNA molecules should look like,” said Drew. “We are trying to understand how degradation affects the signals the DNA puts off,” said Dawson. “We will then develop algorithms to interpret and predict degradation from future DNA samples.”

Spring 2015

This research project is the perfect way for Drew to prepare himself for graduate studies in biomedical engineering research. DNA research is the new frontier for biometrics researchers. To tackle this interdisciplinary project, Dawson and Drew teamed up with Tina Moroose, teaching assistant professor of forensic and investigative science in the Eberly College.


Drew is collecting the DNA data in the forensics lab under Moroose’s supervision. To do this, he is collecting the original DNA samples from himself and other research team members and exposing those samples to UV light. This mimics the degradation it would experience in the field. The DNA is tracked and degradation recorded via the signals it sends off. The research team is currently compiling the data, and an algorithm will be developed and tested.


“Engineers can bridge disciplines,” said Dawson. “Sometimes, we don’t have a problem thinking outside the box, but it’s the box outside the box we have a problem thinking in. “DNA is my life,” explained the effervescent Drew. “There are 13 genetic locations, and 13 is my favorite number. It just makes sense.” Drew has been an undergraduate research assistant in the biometric collections lab at WVU through the Center for Identification Technology Research. However, he credits the McNair Scholars program as really focusing him in on this and future research. The McNair Scholars program is a Department of Educationfunded grant competition that recognizes standout students and helps them to achieve academic success. The program not only provides financial assistance, but also guides them in their research endeavors. “The McNair Scholars program is probably my favorite part of this whole experience because it’s like a grad school prep course,” he said. “Dr. Dawson taught me how to do doctoratelevel writing, and he and the program were really on top of me to be organized.” Dawson describes Drew as a very confident, but humble, student who is hungry for responsibility and knowledge. “I’ve seen him mature a lot, especially though the McNair program,” said Dawson. “It opened his eyes to research and allowed him to move outside of the classroom to application. He’s creative, committed, curious and hard-working.” Since coming to WVU in 2006, Dawson has employed many biometric systems students in the CITeR lab to help them gain real-world experience. Not all of his students want to pursue graduate studies like Drew, but the time spent in the lab is still valuable. “It introduces them to system integration and programming, independent thinking and responsibility. Those aren’t always things you can learn in a classroom, and the lab helps them practice what they’ve learned,” explained Dawson. Drew strongly encourages his peers to look into research projects as undergraduate students. He especially points out the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience program he participated in after his sophomore year. “I tell them research is where it’s at. It takes you to the edge of your comfort zone,” said Drew. “It’s a great way to find out what you want to do and to start networking with professors.”

Jordan Drew

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“The body is a really awesome computer, and I want to integrate biology and technology.�


EWV | College News

National Privacy Experts Participate in Seminar Series By Mary C. Dillon

They know your favorite movie. They know the temperature of your home. They know you visit your mother every Sunday. But how is that information being used? And is it being protected? persinger

Many West Virginia University students got the opportunity to find out the answers to these questions and more during the Privacy and Technology graduate seminar series this spring. The series features weekly appearances by a nationally recognized roster of privacy experts. In the fall of 2014, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft faced attacks from everyone from journalists to the U.S. Senate over concerns for a perceived disrespect for user privacy and data. Around that same time, Pedro Espina, a member of WVU’s Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources Visiting Committee, approached Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the College, with what he termed a “blind spot” in the College’s curriculum.

Spring 2015

“Science and technology students seldom take into account the privacy implications of their research and of the products they design,” said Espina, senior science and technology advisor at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


Together, Espina and Cilento approached Brian Woerner, chair of the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, about the possibility of creating a seminar series on the topic. For assistance, Espina reached out to Sarah Soliman, a 2007 biometrics and computer engineering graduate of WVU. statler.wvu.edu

“Sarah and I met at the Global Identity Summit,” said Espina. “Together, we approached prospective speakers for the series. Sarah and I, along with Roy Nutter, professor of computer science and electrical engineering, from the Lane Department, split the teaching responsibilities.” Soliman, an emerging technology trends project associate at RAND Corporation, earned her master’s degree at the University of Cambridge in England. She is currently working on her doctorate in war studies at King’s College London. Highlights of the series included a March 4 lecture on the right to privacy by Dorothy Glancy. A professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law and one of the principal drafters of the Privacy Act of 1974, Glancy is a Certified Information Privacy Professional who writes about legal issues related to law and technology, particularly how privacy interacts with intelligent transportation systems. She is the privacy auditor of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Bay Area network of toll tag readers known as Traffic Watch, a real-time traffic surveillance system, and serves on the Court Technology Advisory Committee to the State of California Judicial Council. She co-chaired the 2010 Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference, served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Transportation with regard to privacy policy issues and directed a 1995 study of interactions

between privacy and intelligent transportation systems under a grant from the Federal Highway Administration. On April 15, Aneesh Chopra, the former and first chief technology officer of the United States, will address privacy challenges in government. Chopra, who is the co-founder and executive vice president of Hunch Analytics, a technology firm focused on improving the productivity of public and regulated sectors of the economy through data analytics, is the author of “Innovative State: How New Technologies Can Transform Government.” Other speakers included Lisa Nelson, associate professor of legal studies at the University of Pittsburgh; Paige Lavender, senior politics editor with the Huffington Post; Chris Greer, director of Cyber Physical Systems and Smart Grid Program Office Engineering Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology; and Jason Thomas, with Thomson Reuters. “I am delighted to welcome such an esteemed panel of visitors to the Statler College and WVU,” said Cilento. “Each week, our students, faculty, staff and guests are hearing their perspectives on what the future holds in the area of privacy and technology. We could not have done this without the hard work of Pedro and Sarah. They are to be applauded for their efforts.”

Christian Wins Air Force Young Investigator Award

By Marissa Sura

John Christian, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, has won a prestigious grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research for work that can help model and classify distant objects and their features quicker than ever before.

Christian is among 57 scientists who will receive a portion of $16.6 million in total grants through the Air Force’s Young Investigator Research Program. The funding will be awarded over a three-year period. Whether it is spacecraft attempting to rendezvous and dock with another spacecraft or a ground telescope tracking an asteroid far away from Earth, the cameras that gather information about these objects have limitations. At long ranges, cameras can have a difficult time picking up details about objects or their features. These low-resolution images show partially resolved objects, which Christian likens to blurry objects that you would see in your home if you removed your glasses.

The tricky part is teaching a computer to do the same thing.

“By doing this, we will improve the amount of information that we can gather about a distant object and we can do it much faster,” Christian said. “We don’t have to wait for the object to get closer in order to identify it or to understand its shape.” He went on to say that the idea is quite general, and many of the same ideas that work on entire objects are also likely to work on individual features on an object. Christian also said that this concept could be applied in any vision-based navigation application such as robots, aerial vehicles and self-driving cars. The AFOSR Young Investigator Program is open to scientists and engineers at research institutions across the United States who received Ph.D. or equivalent degrees in the past five years and who show exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research.

“We are delighted with this prestigious Air Force Office of Scientific Research award to Dr. Christian,” said Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College. “He has demonstrated significant potential for impressive career development. I also believe his enthusiasm and entrepreneurialism will greatly benefit the growth and recognition of our Statler College educational and research programs for many years to come.” Christian’s proposal, “Estimation of Shape and Relative Motion for Partially Resolved Objects in Optically Acquired Imagery,” was one of more than 200 proposals submitted this year. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and his doctoral degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining the faculty at WVU, Christian was an engineer in the Guidance, Navigation and Control Autonomous Flight Systems Branch at the NASA Johnson Space Center where he worked on algorithms, sensors and flight software for spacecraft relative navigation.

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“Humans have trained themselves to identify partially resolved objects based on very little data,” Christian explained. “For instance, even if your vision was blurry you could distinguish your cat from your dog based on the general shape and size. You can’t pick out all of the detail, but based on information that you do have your brain eliminates categories of objects that don’t fit the parameters and deduces what the object is.”

Through applied mathematics, Christian is developing computer software that can make guesses about what a partially resolved object actually is. His research group will then go one step further. Using a lot of images taken over time, they hope to be able to produce threedimensional models of the object at a much higher resolution than what the camera provides by itself.



EWV | College News

Retired USG Corporation Chairman, CEO Delivered 2014 Hiner Lecture William C. Foote, retired chairman and chief executive officer of USG Corporation, delivered the Statler College’s 2014 Glen H. Hiner Distinguished Lecture on September 23. Foote’s lecture was entitled, “Leadership in Uncertain Times.”

Spring 2015

Under Foote’s leadership from 1996 through 2011, USG, the largest manufacturer of gypsum products in North America and the largest distributor of wallboard in the United States, achieved success in diverse and changing markets. The youngest chairman in USG’s 107-year history, Foote refocused the company on its core businesses. He re-energized USG’s innovation efforts in product development, customer service and information technology. Foote launched a large-scale expansion of its manufacturing operations that added more than five billion square feet of new, low-cost wallboard manufacturing capacity. And he also directed the expansion of USG’s specialty distribution business, L&W Supply Corporation, into a nationwide presence and guided the successful growth and development of USG ceilings worldwide business, USG Interiors.


Foote successfully tackled the company’s legacy asbestos liabilities and led the company through a Chapter 11 restructuring to protect shareholders from a wave of lawsuits. In 2006, USG announced an unprecedented agreement that settled all asbestos personal injury claims against the company, preserved shareholder value and repaid creditors in full, which was a first in any major asbestos agreement. statler.wvu.edu

Hiner, Foote and Cilento

Foote began his career at USG as vice president of strategic planning and served in a variety of increasingly responsible operating roles culminating in being named CEO in 1996. Prior to joining USG, Foote was a senior engagement manager at McKinsey & Company in Chicago, Illinois, and assistant treasurer at Chase Manhattan Bank in New York. A member of the board of Walgreen Co., Kohler Co. and a trustee of Williams College, Foote is a member of the Business Council and the Greater Milwaukee Committee. He is former chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, a life trustee of Northwestern Memorial Hospital and a former trustee of the Museum of Science and Industry. In recognition of his civic leadership in Chicago, he received honors from several organizations, including the Heritage Award from the American Red Cross, Spirit of Life Award from the City of Hope, the Leadership Award from the Lakefront SRO, the Humanitarian Services Award from the Chicago Architecture Foundation and the Children’s Advocate Award from the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation. Foote graduated cum laude from Williams College with a bachelor’s degree in economics and holds a master’s degree from Harvard Business School. The Glen H. Hiner Distinguished Lecture Series is named in honor of the outstanding alumnus who, in 2005, established an endowment to support

Faculty News in Brief Fathi Wins AIME award Ebrahim Fathi, assistant professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering, received the 2014 American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers Rossiter W. Raymond Memorial Award. The award was established in 1945 in honor of one of the Institute’s founders and honorary members. It recognizes the best paper published by AIME societies’ members where the lead author is under 35 years of age. Fathi’s paper, “Multiscale Gas Transport in Shales with Local Kerogen Heterogeneities,” was published in the Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal and introduces a new mathematical formulation to model and history match gas-permeation measurements in the laboratory using organic-rich shale core plugs.


For more information: http://bit.ly/1vj3lg3

professor of the year Finalist


the deanship of the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at WVU.

For more information: http://bit.ly/1HqWYb5

Aaron Noble, assistant professor of mining engineering, has been awarded the Stefanko Best Paper Award by the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration. The award, established in 1983, recognizes authors presenting papers in the Coal and Energy Noble Division technical sessions, at SME Annual Meetings, for their contributions to the body of knowledge. Noble’s paper, “Micro-Price Optimization of Coal Processing Operations,” describes a novel approach to coal supply chain optimization and provides coal operators with practical strategies to improve day-to-day operations. For more information: http://bit.ly/1sZBScX

Unnikrishnan receives Burggraf award Avinash Unnikrishnan, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, is the recipient of the 2014 Transportation Research Board’s Fred Burggraf Award. The award was established in 1966 to encourage young researchers to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the field of transportation. It recognizes the best published paper where the lead author is under 35 years of age. Unnikrishnan’s paper, “Modeling Parking Search on Network Using Stochastic Shortest Paths with History Dependence,” develops a mathematical model for capturing the parking search for drivers. Unnikrishnan

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

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Glen H. Hiner graduated from WVU’s Department of Electrical Engineering in 1957, and then embarked on an outstanding 35-year career with General Electric. In 1992, he became chief executive officer of Owens Corning. He has served on several Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources’ advisory committees, as a visiting professor in the WVU College of Business and Economics and as a member of the WVU Foundation Board of Directors.

Powsiri Klinkhachorn, professor of computer science and electrical engineering, has been chosen as a finalist for 2014 Professor of the Year by the Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia. This is the second-straight year he was nominated for the Klinkhachorn award, which was created to recognize and reward innovation and creativity among faculty at West Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities.

Noble earns SME award


EWV | Student News

It was the beginning of May. West Virginia University’s spring 2014 semester was coming to a close as finals week quickly approached. Three friends had just moved in together, ready to spend their last summer in Morgantown, before the next school year began. Then, they received an assignment that changed their lives. Alex Dunn, Steven Amerman and Walter Ferrell, computer science majors, had been working in the Multispectral Imaging Lab directed by Thirimachos Bourlai, assistant professor in WVU’s Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. Bourlai approached the students with a project about which they had very little knowledge. The assignment was to develop a prototype of an Android phone application that was the earliest version of what is now known as SecureSelfies. The app is used to lock a phone using a “selfie,” a picture of the user taken by the user, as a security measure. The selfie is then

used to verify the user when they want to access the various services on their phone. “He came to us and said, ‘You have a week to finish this prototype,’” said Ferrell, a junior from Elkview. “We were working until the morning of the presentation to finish it.” The technology developed by Bourlai, Dunn, Amerman and Ferrell is now being licensed through WVU to software security company Confirmix. “Many of the most innovative technological advances come from sharp university students,” said Patrick Esposito, chairman and co-founder of Confirmix. “When you combine high energy and new thoughts with a dynamic research program like the one Dr. Bourlai leads, great things can happen.” That energy was packed into a week’s time as the three students rushed to develop the prototype before the initial meeting with Esposito and potential investors. Dunn said he worked on the algorithms up until 7 a.m. the morning of the meeting.

Spring 2015

l-r, Walter Ferrell, Steven Amerman and Alex Dunn



By Bart Keeler

“I enjoy doing all of my work in a deadline-induced panic,” said Dunn, a senior from Scott Depot.

Now, several months later, the SecureSelfies app, and its parent company Confirmix, announced that they had raised $1.25 million in angel investment to support the commercialization of their product.


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Bourlai selected the three students because they showed a passion and “It all evolved pretty fast,” explained Bourlai. “We have an excellent desire to work and learn. In the fall 2013 semester, Ferrell was enrolled team environment and continue to grow. We value communication in Bourlai’s Human and Computer Interaction course because he and trust and I am proud to be a part needed elective hours for his computer science of this team.” degree. He was in need of a ride home and bribed Amerman to stay in the class with him Living together helped Dunn, Amerman and with the promise of a free lunch. West Virginia University Ferrell push through the intense pressure they were under during the week they had “I thought the class was really interesting,” said and Confirmix have to create the prototype. Amerman, a senior who from North Berwick, announced that Maine. “So after the first day, I registered for it.” On their kitchen wall, they posted a product the cybersecurity backlog, a chart of all the mini-projects Ferrell and Amerman successfully navigated the company has raised needed to make the big project happen. course, and then were hired to work in Bourlai’s Each job had a notecard with the person’s lab. The next semester, Dunn was also looking $1.25 million in angel name who claimed it. for a job when he ran into Bourlai while walking investment to support to class with his two friends. Bourlai said he “I think having that up in the kitchen, could have the job after programming a set of the commercialization where we couldn’t avoid it, helped us work code to verify his skills. harder,” said Amerman. “It’s hard to keep of innovative biometric looking at your roommates knowing you Dunn, Amerman and Ferrell had no real technologies originally haven’t completed a job, especially when experience with biometrics and image developed in the WVU it’s right there for everyone to see!” processing outside the lab environment and were not familiar with the programming Multispectral Imaging Now, as they continue to work on the languages needed to create the app. project, they are more confident with their Laboratory. skills and their roles in the company. “We had no idea how to set most of this up going into it,” explained Ferrell, who worked to “We’re learning how to be speak the make sure everything connected with the server language of business. We can’t use the that kept the selfie on file functioned properly. tech words we would among ourselves when talking to potential investors,” said Amerman. “The communication skills are key. We Amerman was in charge of programming the technology, and Dunn only have one shot to get it right with an investor.” was responsible for writing the software code that matched the algorithms for facial recognition. “We’ve gone from trying to figure out how to program this app to trying to find investors,” said Ferrell. “In the last six months, I’ve learned more “I had no clue what it meant,” said Dunn. “I was in my room all night than I think I’ve learned in my entire life.” stumbling through and came out and said to the guys, ‘I don’t know what is happening, but I think it’s working!’”


EWV | College StudentNews News

Engineers Without Borders Selects International Delegacy By Bernadette Dombrowski

Nine members of Engineers Without Borders at West Virginia University have been selected to participate in a community development project in Caobete, Dominican Republic, August 1-8, 2015. “The program provides our engineering students with the opportunity to engage in international community development projects, which broaden their horizons,” said Lian-Shin Lin, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and faculty adviser to EWB. Students were selected based on their previous participation in EWB service projects and events, leadership and group work skills and aptitude for the tasks involved with the trip. The selected students are sophomores 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 Brian Donnelly (chemical engineering, Morgantown). Also selected were juniors Ryan Butler (civil engineering, Huntingtown, Maryland), Sean Cottrill (civil engineering, Parkersburg), and freshman Ahmed Haque (chemical engineering, Morgantown). EWB will cooperate with Penn State University at Harrisburg’s EWB chapter to build water filtration systems for the poverty-stricken communities in Caobete. The systems help curb disease and virus outbreaks by draining out particles and pathogens.

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“By participating in the planning and implementation of real-world projects and applying what they learned in the classroom, students become a catalyst for broader impact,” said Lin. “Working with communities in poverty is a lifechanging experience and makes our students better engineers.”


statler.wvu.edu statler.wvu.edu

Student News in Brief

Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society, recently inducted 28 new members into the West Virginia University chapter. “Our fall initiation class more than doubled from fall 2013, when 11 were inducted,” said Melissa Morris, teaching assistant professor and adviser for the chapter. “It’s amazing to see the sense of pride and accomplishment our students feel when they lined up, wearing their polished bents around their necks.” In order to be inducted, juniors must rank in the top eighth of their class and seniors must rank in the top fifth of their class. Graduate students who have completed at least 50 percent of their degree requirements and who rank in the top fifth of their class are also eligible to become candidates for membership. All initiates were required to complete five hours of community service this semester prior to initiation. The 14 seniors selected for induction, with their majors and hometowns, include Mark Swisher, computer engineering and electrical engineering, from Parkersburg Eric Roger, civil engineering, from Morgantown; Daniel Ridenour, mining engineering, Smithsburg, Maryland; Thomas Smith, computer engineering and electrical engineering, Parkersburg; Erika Allen, chemical engineering, Wheeling; David Billups, mechanical and aerospace engineering, Mechanicsville, Virginia; Justin Schrout, mechanical and aerospace engineering, Westover; Quinn Jones, computer engineering and computer science, Fairchance, Pennsylvania; Charles Gray, mechanical and aerospace engineering, Sissonville; Cuong Vo, mechanical engineering, Mason; Dylan Curtis, mechanical and aerospace engineering, Wheeling; Matthew Floyd, industrial engineering, Buckhannon; Michael Forester, mechanical engineering and mathematics, Wheeling; and Raymond Nevling, mechanical and aerospace engineering, Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Founded in 1885, Tau Beta Pi is the second oldest Greek-letter honor society in America. The society was founded when the nation’s oldest honor society, Phi Beta Kappa, sought to restrict its membership to students in the liberal arts.

Braden Repeats as Champion Going into the final race of the season, the Winchester 400 in Indiana, Travis Braden, a junior dual major in mechanical and aerospace engineering at West Virginia University, led the ARCA/CRA Super Series standings by just 25 points. A top-10 finish would secure the Wheeling native his second-straight series points championship driving the no. 1 Flying WV Chevrolet. But for Braden, who has spent time on both the president’s and dean’s lists at WVU, passing tests has become something he is all too familiar with. He finished second, securing the title and his 10th top-five finish this season to go along with two wins. For more information: http://bit.ly/1uzCSJj


Claassen Wins Scholarship

Alexis Claassen of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, was awarded the Harold M. Gordon Hazard Control Management Scholarship from the International Board for the Certification of Safety Managers. The scholarship recognizes students studying in the safety management program at West Virginia University who have exemplified academic success throughout the program. Claassen expects to complete her master’s degree in May 2015. For more information: http://bit.ly/1nXr1xE

Tau Beta Pi Scholar Joseph Feeney, a senior mechanical and aerospace engineering student at WVU, has been named a 2014-2015 Tau Beta Pi scholar. The award comes in the form of a $1,000 scholarship. For more information: http://bit.ly/1G7sPi4 WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources

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Juniors selected for induction were Drew Michael, mechanical engineering, Martinsburg; Molly Carr, mechanical and aerospace engineering, Midlothian, Virginia; Blake Lillard, mechanical and aerospace engineering, Morgantown; Cody Lester, mechanical and aerospace engineering, Charleston; Seth Theeke, computer engineering, Morgantown; Brek Jeffrey, mechanical engineering, Parkersburg; Connor Anderson, computer science, Inwood; Ryan Beske, electrical engineering, South Charleston; Taylor Gosnell, mechanical and aerospace engineering, Oakland, Maryland; Ryan Hughes, chemical engineering, Moundsville; Jamin Jones, chemical engineering, Kenna; Keenan Kocan, mechanical and aerospace engineering, Morgantown; Austin Shahan, computer science, Kingwood; and Perry Shumate, industrial engineering, Mount Hope.


Twenty-eight Inducted into Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honorary



EWV | Student News

MAE Students Visit Aircraft Overhaul Facility By Bernadette Dombrowski

Students in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering recently had the unique opportunity to tour a US Airways and American Airlines aircraft overhaul facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

A US Airways pilot for 18 years, Gall captained many aircraft, including the Airbus A319 the students examined. Gall taught each student how to power the aircraft and how the pilot performs takeoffs and landings.

“Most visits to these sites were restricted after September 11, 2001,” explained Peter Gall, an aerospace engineer at WVU who planned the trip. “Our visit was made possible by alumnus Norm White, a supervising engineer at the facility.”

“Being able to travel to an airline maintenance facility and view all of the topics that we cover in class was an experience many do not get,” said Christ Nestor, a senior aerospace engineering major from Fairmont. “Opportunities such as this have reaffirmed my decision to study aerospace engineering.”

Gall took 26 students from his flight vehicle design capstone course. Students were given freedom to explore the facilities and an Airbus A319 being overhauled.

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“The experience of walking in, around and all over the aircraft allowed us to make the connection between our studies and the real world,” said Sam Ayers, a senior aerospace engineering major from Canandaigua, New York. “It is not often that we are able to get hands-on experience like this with such an amazing aircraft.”


The facility is responsible for the regular maintenance and major overhauls of aircraft for the airlines. Engineers and mechanics were on-hand to discuss the process. “It was a great way for students to get perspectives from both the people who design and maintain these aircrafts,” said Gall. “Everything we talk about in class was experienced firsthand on this trip.”


Student News in Brief

Student Innovative Paper Award Amanda Holbert, who graduated in December with a master’s in electrical engineering, recently presented a paper outlining her research exploring the use of hand bacteria as a biometric identifier at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers 14th International Conference on Bioinformatics and BioEngineering. Holbert, from Philippi, was awarded the Student Innovative Paper Award. A total of 67 papers were accepted to be presented at this year’s conference. West Virginia University’s student chapter of the Institute of Industrial Engineers received the Gold Award for their performance in planning and administration, programs, outreach and activities, member

recruitment and regional participation. WVU’s IIE chapter gives members the opportunity to network with faculty and industry professionals; obtain training and certifications; complete community service; and attend industry events, including the annual Mid-Atlantic Regional IIE Conference. For more information: http://bit.ly/1uzDhv9

NSCAA Scholar All-East Region Honors


Jamie Merriam, a junior biometric systems major, was one of three student-athletes from the West Virginia University men’s soccer team to earn NSCAA Scholar All-East Region honors. Merriam, from Gaithersburg, Maryland, was named to the second team with a 3.32 GPA. He also earned All-MAC First Team honors after scoring nine goals and adding five assists for 23 points.

Ryan Otroba treats drumming like a science. The senior civil engineering student from Centreville, Virginia, can even compare his lab assignments to his practices with the WVU Marching Band.

Like a Science


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

Otroba Otroba has been a member of the “Pride of West Virginia” throughout his career at the University, playing the tenor drums in the drum line.

STEM Mountains of Excellence Awards

“But then you play it with the band, and you understand it much better,” he said. “It’s the same thing as learning in class — when you’re professor is drawing diagrams on the board and you really don’t understand it, but then you go and see it visually in person, you get it.”

Three doctoral students in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources have earned STEM Mountains of Excellence awards for their research in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

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

Stephen Itschner and Jarrett Riley received fellowships, which provide an annual stipend of $27,000, a waiver of University tuition, a tuition scholarship for college tuition and $1,500 toward research-related travel expenses. Ross Ryskamp received a STEM Mountains of Excellence scholarship, which provides a one-year award of $5,000. For more information: http://bit.ly/1vj4pQU

27th Annual Pumpkin Drop On Friday, October 24, 327 pumpkins fell from West Virginia University’s 11-story Engineering Sciences Building for the 27th Annual Pumpkin Drop. Sponsored by the WVU Chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Pumpkin Drop invites student teams from across West Virginia and nearby states to design and build an enclosure or an apparatus that will protect a pumpkin when it is launched from the roof. Pumpkins were packaged in cardboard, marshmallows, blankets, pillows and other materials to prevent them from splattering on the ground below. After the pumpkins fell, the WVU Chapter of Tau Beta Pi was responsible for separating the remains of the pumpkins’ safeguards into four piles. The group donated 16 large trash bags of bedding and clothes to Goodwill, delivered two dump trucks of compostable material to the WVU Farm, filled an entire compacting recycling truck with cardboard and disposed of two dump trucks of garbage an hour. For more information: http://bit.ly/1AHizLp

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources

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WVU’s STEM Mountains of Excellence awards are given to doctoral students conducting research in areas of emphasis including achieving international leadership in radio astronomy, utilizing shale gas, promoting stewardship of water resources, improving STEM education and scientific literacy and eliminating health disparities in Appalachia.


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EWV | Alumni News

Young Alumni Return to Share Experiences at Engineering Visitation Day By Mary C. Dillon

The Statler College’s annual High School Visitation Day is an opportunity for prospective students and their families to meet with current students and faculty and tour labs all in an effort to see if West Virginia University is the right fit for them. More than 230 people, including 89 students from eight states, attended the event, which was held on December 6, 2014.

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Joining them for the first time as part of the program was a group of young alumni, all of whom are successfully employed in their chosen career fields.


“Prospective students want to hear about outcomes after graduation,” said Cate Schlobohm, outreach coordinator in the Statler College. “That led us to incorporate the alumni panel into the program. Students want to know where they can work, what kind of career paths they will start on and what a typical day in the life of an engineer is actually like.


“We chose this specific group of alumni because they had all graduated within the past three years, so they still clearly remember what being a student was like, and they only recently made the transition to industry,” she added. “They were able to offer a fresh, candid view of how their transition from WVU to industry went. Also, these alumni represented various sectors of industry including public utilities, energy, manufacturing and information technology.” The “elder statesman” of the group was Morgantown native Justin Heydon, who graduated from WVU in 2011 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He currently works for Swanson Industries designing underground coal mining equipment. Heydon interned for the company as a student. “I did a research project with Swanson that helped me apply school to a real-life situation,” Heydon said. “My favorite

part of earning my degree from WVU was the group projects. It really helped to prepare me for working with all different types of people.” He is working toward his professional engineer licensure. Kylea DeMarco and Kyle Swisher represented the class of 2012. DeMarco, a civil engineer from Shinnston, accepted a position with The Thrasher Group in its Public Utility Division, while Swisher, an electrical engineer from Monaca, Pennsylvania, is a software analyst for Mylan Pharmaceuticals. Like Heydon, the pair credit internships they conducted at their respective companies with helping them to land their current positions. “I was fortunate to get an internship in the Clarksburg office of The Thrasher Group after my sophomore year of college,” DeMarco said. “I was invited back to intern throughout my junior and senior year of college, and was

Young alumni from left to right Justin Heydon, Kyle Swisher, Brandon Kania, Kylea DeMarco and Meghan Mills.

hired full time during my senior year at WVU.” She currently manages projects associated with public water and sewer service throughout the state.

Swisher did a summer internship at Mylan in their Laboratory Informatics Division, and then was offered a fulltime job in quality management systems. “The very best part of getting my degree from WVU was the people,” he said. “I learned a lot from class, but I learned just as much from the professors oneon-one and from my fellow students.”

“My position is a supervisory and engineering job where I have to run a multimillion dollar project with on average 60 people working for me,” Mills said. “I work with many different people around heavy machinery in a potentially dangerous environment every day. “The best part about gaining my degree from WVU was the broad amount of skills I gained. Not only did I learn valuable problem-solving and leadership abilities, but I gained positive social skills that exceed many counterparts from other institutions,” she said. “My ability to speak to a variety of people and present my ideas to an audience has been invaluable in my career.”

A native of Wellington, Ohio, Kania, a petroleum and natural gas engineer, was on a mission at the 2013 Engineering and Computer Science Career Fair: to land an interview and, hopefully, a job offer. “I interviewed with Halliburton after the career fair at the beginning of the year and it turned out to be the first job offer I received,” he said. Kania currently works in Pennsylvania as a field professional for Halliburton’s cased hole wireline. According to the surveys of students and parents, the addition of the young alumni panel was a success. “Students were excited to see the successful outcomes and opportunities available to our students,” Schlobohm said. “Parents loved hearing about what our alumni currently do and how their education from WVU got them to where they are today.”

WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources

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“When it came time for me to start applying to college, I did not apply to anywhere but WVU,” DeMarco said. “The best part about having a degree from WVU was being a West Virginian, getting my degree from West Virginia and being able to work in and give back to my home state. My field of study has allowed me to be involved in the betterment of my fellow West Virginians’ quality of life.”

2013 graduates Meghan Mills and Brandon Kania are taking advantage of the growing need for engineers working in industries related to shale gas drilling and utilization. Mills, a chemical engineer from Fairmont, works for CONSOL Energy as a field engineer on hydraulic fracturing jobs.


EWV | Alumni News

Alumni with Halliburton Return to Teach Short Course By Bart Keeler

A group from Halliburton recently came to West Virginia University to present a short course on directional drilling and concreting to students in the Department of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering. Leading the group was Len Fry, a 1995 graduate of the petroleum and natural gas engineering program at WVU, and district technology manager for Halliburton. Fellow WVU alumnus, Marlon McKoy, a 2006 graduate of electrical engineering, joined him. “We always like to visit with students and keep them abreast of what technology we have and what we’re doing in the industry,” said Fry.


“Interaction between our students and leaders in the oil and natural gas industry is extremely valuable, and the Department’s faculty remains committed to continue hosting such events,” said Ameri. “Short courses like this one presented by Halliburton provide a blended learning experience to our students beyond formal degree requirements. Networking with successful alumni like Len and Marlon helps to reinforce their dedication and commitment to hard work.” The short course consisted of three individual lectures on directional drilling, cementing best practices and well stimulation. “With the new technology in directional drilling and cementing practices, we like to show the students what is being utilized and how it can be applied so they can use it in their schoolwork,” said Fry. “Then, they have an idea of how to use it in the industry.”

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Cody Hall, a junior petroleum and natural gas engineering student from Wheeling, appreciated the real-life perspectives offered by the Halliburton employees and how it augmented his class material.


“It makes what we’ve learned in class more relatable,” he said. “It’s interesting to see the company’s perspectives and how they operate.” Amanda Parrish, a senior from Fairmont, is grateful that companies like Halliburton come to WVU because she is looking for career opportunities.


McKoy said he is pleased to have the opportunity to come back to his alma mater. “After leaving here, I never thought I’d be in a position where I would be able to give something to back the University,” he said. “Ever since I graduated, I’ve been back annually for recruiting or for things like this. It’s big to come back and to provide Mountaineers with some type of knowledge and opportunity to make their lives their own.” After graduating with a degree in electrical engineering, McKoy McCoy headed to East Texas with Halliburton in the petroleum industry. His experiences have led him to push WVU students to expand their boundaries. KEELER

Sam Ameri, department chairman, noted that students gain valuable knowledge by interacting with industry leaders, especially when they are WVU engineering alumni.

“I think we are very fortunate to be with these companies and see how they do it in the industry,” she said. “Not just with Halliburton, but with the other companies as well.”

“After completing the electrical engineering program, I knew I could tackle anything. Going to Halliburton after graduation was just another challenge,” he said. “I do push it a lot; to take that opportunity when you get out of college to travel. Never only know one thing or area and risk becoming typecast as a one-trick pony. Every time I come here, I tell students to look for work outside their comfort zone.” Parrish said that seeing WVU alumni being successful in the industry gives her hope that she can also succeed. “It’s wonderful to see our alumni come back to our school,” she said. “They went out there and did what they wanted and still come back to promote and encourage us.” Fry, who has been with Halliburton for 20 years, says he likes to recruit at WVU because the company has had very good luck hiring students, adding, “We want to make sure we can keep tapping this incredible pool of talent.” McKoy said that his WVU education prepared him to tackle the challenges of the industry, despite not having a petroleum engineering degree. “I learned to be open-minded and I use that every day,” he said. “I encourage students to take advantage of people who are willing to share knowledge and experiences with them. That’s one of the things WVU engineering has taught me.”

Alum Accepts 2015 Motor Trend Truck of the Year Award By Bart Keeler

In October 2010, Brian Long was told to start a journey that would prove most rewarding for the automotive engineer. Long, who graduated from West Virginia University with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, was sent to Brazil to work on General Motor’s new Chevrolet Colorado truck. After being unveiled on November 20, 2014, at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the Colorado was named the 2015 Motor Trend Truck of the Year. “I have a great sense of accomplishment for everyone who had a hand in this,” said Long. “I could not feel more proud.” Long was chosen by General Motors’ executives to help develop a midsize truck that would be a better fit for customer needs. He was sent to work at GM’s Technical Center Long in São Paulo, Brazil, for a year to start the process and then returned to the company’s North American headquarters in 2012. The Colorado was first manufactured in 2004 and discontinued in 2012. It was re-introduced in 2014 with a new mindset: to win over the consumer. “The old model wasn’t the market leader,” explained Long, “so our goal from the beginning was to win the customer over. We had a good check and balance system in place to make sure that the team was building a quality vehicle that would appeal to buyers.”

“We didn’t sacrifice fuel economy over tow capacity or the capability over the driving experience,” he said.

In 2008, Long moved into GM’s central office, at the Vehicle Engineering Center in Warren, Michigan, and was in charge of program quality for trucks and future product development. It was in this position that he was asked to start the Colorado project. Long says that he is proud of the way his team worked together to connect with the customer. Their work produced a unanimous vote for the award. “There has been a big change in the industry. Everything is more integrated, and we are more connected to the customer and each other,” he said. “This helps us design and build a better product.” Long said that the education he received at WVU is unique because it trained him to be a professional team member. “For a large university, WVU’s engineering college made you feel like you were at a small college. The professors gave good, close attention to their students,” said Long. “I gained a lot of experience working on project teams at WVU. “On an academic group project, you learn what it takes to get something done as a team. That one-on-one touch-point with other human beings was priceless for me.” Long will continue to practice these skills in his new role as the quality manager of the GM Powertrain Test Fleets.

Chehovin Inducted into Academy of Industrial Engineers Chris Chehovin, a 1988 graduate from West Virginia University with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, was inducted into the Academy of Industrial Engineers this past fall. Chehovin oversees global manufacturing engineering and supplier development for TE Connectivity’s aerospace connector facilities in Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania. He has spent 24 years working for TE Connectivity (formerly Tyco and Tyco Electronics) in a variety of positions including product engineer, quality engineer, manufacturing engineer, manufacturing supervisor and plant manager. Chehovin often represents the company at WVU’s Engineering and Computer Science Career Fair and is an active member of the Department’s Visiting Committee. He spent the early part of his career with Texas Instruments in Dallas, Texas, working as a manufacturing engineer in defense systems.

Long has spent his entire career working on GM trucks, giving him a broad WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources

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As the program’s quality manager, Long’s job was to ensure that the vehicle was designed to exceed industry tests while balancing performance, fuel economy and the driving experience.

understanding of industry tests and the customer base. He began as a student interning with the company. He was hired upon graduating in 2001 and began working in Flint, Michigan. Quickly, he became a plant supervisor and then a reliability manager four years later.


EWV | Alumni News

Alumni News in Brief Mary Ackenhusen was named president and chief executive office of Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, the largest academic and tertiary health authority in British Columbia, serving a population of 1 million with a budget of $3 billion. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree in industrial engineering from WVU.

Jeff Gray was recently named a Distinguished Educator by the Association for Computing Machinery. Gray, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree in computer science from WVU in 1991 and 1993, respectively, is a professor of computer science at the University of Alabama. The Distinguished Member Grade honors ACM members with at least 15 years of professional experience and five years of continuous membership who have achieved significant accomplishments or have made a significant impact on the computing field.

John K. Reinhart, a 1994 mechanical engineering graduate, has been named chief operating office of American Energy Partners, LP. Reinhart previously worked for Chesapeake Energy Corporation for eight years in increasing roles of importance. Prior to Chesapeake, Reinhart worked for Schlumberger Limited for 11 years in various engineering and operational leadership roles.

Doug Smith, a 1995 civil engineering graduate, has been named transportation planning director for the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, which is responsible for planning and prioritizing the use of all state and federal transportation funds allocated to the region. Smith has been with the SPC since 2002, and has been recognized for his innovative work in a variety of areas, including regional systems operations planning, coordination of the region’s traffic incident management program and incorporation of advanced wireless technology in travel time and congestion analysis.

Scott Swann was recently named senior director of innovation for the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Business Unit of MorphoTrak. Swann is responsible for identifying, researching and developing customer solutions and leveraging Morpho’s industry leading biometric and security technologies. He most recently served as special assistant to the FBI executive assistant director of the Science and Technology Branch. He earned his master’s degree in software engineering from WVU.

Andy Peters, a 1976 graduate of West Virginia University, has been named the chairman of WVU’s Safety Management Visiting Committee. Peters is the senior vice president and chief safety office of AECOM Technology Corporation. He hopes his 20 years of experience in the field, along with his industry connections, can benefit the program.

Bennett Inducted into West Virginia Business Hall of Fame George Bennett, who earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from WVU in 1967, was one of three people inducted into the West Virginia Business Hall of Fame in November. Bennett, from Brookline, Massachusetts, has been a successful “serial entrepreneur” for more than 40 years. In 1973, he co-founded Bain and Company and in 1976 co-founded Braxton Associates, both highly regarded international consulting firms. He later co-founded Symmetrix, a management consulting firm that specialized in helping large firms, and Health Dialog, an international healthcare services company. He currently serves as co-founder and CEO of Good Measures LLC, which combines the expertise of a registered dietitian with state-ofthe-art technology to motivate and support behavior change related to eating and exercise.



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Bennett earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Carnegie Mellon University. In 2010 the West Virginia University Alumni Association inducted Bennett into its Academy of Distinguished Alumni, and in 2011 he received an honorary Doctorate of Science from the Statler College.

Support News in Brief “Scientists dream about doing great things. Engineers do them.”

James “Jim” Heavner has pledged $100,000 to his alma mater to establish a scholarship for undergraduate students from Braxton County. The Jeanie and James Heavner Endowed Scholarship will be available for students attending WVU who are graduates of Braxton County High School. Heavner’s donation to the WVU Foundation was a hybrid gift consisting of the endowed scholarship and a charitable remainder unitrust. The remainder unitrust is an income-producing gift that, over time, will grow larger. After graduating from WVU in 1955 with a degree in aerospace engineering, Heavner, of Burnsville, went on to a very successful engineering career spanning more than 30 years with the U.S. Air Force as a civil service engineer. For more information: http://bit.ly/1sdoWA1

—James Michener Engineers can’t do those great things without a great education. At WVU, that’s the motivation for enhancing and improving the educational programs within the Benjamin Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. To assure future growth, your support is very important. Whether that happens now or through a gift included in your estate plan, you can be a part of the team that helps make more happen for WVU’s engineering students. A gift provision included in a will or revocable trust is a smart option. While carrying out your estate planning to benefit your family’s future, have your attorney include a provision “… to the West Virginia University Foundation, Inc. (FEIN 55-6017181) for the benefit of the Benjamin Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.” You can also include specific instructions on the gift’s use that can benefit students, faculty, a department or program. Another support option is to name the Foundation the beneficiary of a retirement account, life insurance or annuity policy or other financial account. The choice of how those future funds will benefit the College or a department is up to you.

These gifts count in “A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University” to help the College meet its sizable goal. Some gifts have age requirements. Please let us know if you have already made such gift plans or would like assistance with any of them by contacting Robert Bragg, director of development, at 304-293-4157 or robert.bragg@mail.wvu.edu.

Christopher J. Bise, professor and Robert E. Murray Chairman of Mining Engineering, died unexpectedly on February 13, in Denver, Colorado. A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bise earned his undergraduate degree in mining engineering from Virginia Tech and went to work for Consolidation Coal Company as a resident engineer for two underground mines in eastern Ohio. He began his graduate studies Bise at Penn State and joined its mining engineering faculty in 1976, rising from instructor and through the professorial ranks to the George H. and Anne B. Deike Chair. He also created and chaired Penn State’s industrial health and safety program. Bise joined the faculty at WVU in 2006 as department chair and the Charles T. Holland Distinguished Professor of Mining Engineering. Under his leadership, the mining engineering program grew from 40 majors in 2006 to 101 in 2014. J.H. Kelley, WVU emeritus professor and former dean of West Virginia University’s School of Mines, passed away November 21, 2014. A native of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Kelley served in the U.S. Army during World War II and was part of the invasion force at Omaha Beach. In 1961, he was invited by newly elected President John F. Kennedy to join his staff as a science adviser. He served in both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations before accepting an executive position at Rutgers University. Kelley also worked as an executive at Ford and taught at Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania before being appointed a dean at WVU. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Catherine; a brother and two sisters; seven children; 17 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. James A. Kent, who received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from West Virginia University, passed away on January 6, 2015. A member of the Academy of Chemical Engineers, Kent spent the early part of his career as a project engineer and research group leader with Dow Chemical and Monsanto. He returned to WVU in 1954 as an assistant professor of chemical engineering. He was later promoted to professor and in 1962 was named associate dean and associate director of WVU’s Engineering Experiment Station. He went on to serve as dean of engineering at Michigan Technology University and the University of Detroit. WVU Statler College of Engineering and mineral resources

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For retirement income needs, a gift that pays income to you is also a worthwhile direction, yielding a current income tax deduction as well.

In Memoriam


EWV | Support News

Watts’ Donate Time, Financial Resources to Museum’s Mission By Mary C. Dillon

Royce Watts is a firm believer in the adage, “You will never know where you are going unless you know where you have been.” For Watts, associate dean for administration in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University, the journey began with his birth in 1929. The first child of a coal miner, Watts was born in a coal company house in the coal mining community of Cassity. His father died in a roof fall accident at a mine in Boone County in 1942. What followed has served as the impetus for the establishment of a museum at WVU dedicated to the history of the state’s mining and petroleum industries. “I was employed by the former WVU College of Mineral and Energy Resources in 1979,” said Watts. “In carrying out my duties as associate dean for administration, I discovered a treasure of mining and oil and gas artifacts scattered around White Hall. These artifacts were not protected, and many came up missing. My initial response was to collect them and store them in a secure place.” This collection, originally known as the COMER Museum, was renamed the Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum in 2005 at the request of the West Virginia Coal Mining Institute in honor of “two individuals who have tirelessly supported its mission through both financial support and other resources.” In total, the pair have donated $1 million in support of that mission. “Caroline and I have devoted considerable time and financial resources to support the Museum since its inception,” Watts said. “After the naming in 2005, it became clear to us that a formal museum was now a reality, and we began to plan for its operational and financial future. Our current commitment was just the next step in our plans to achieve this goal.”

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Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College, praised the Watts’ for their tireless commitment to the University and the Museum.


“Royce and Caroline have consistently shown their interest and enthusiasm for sharing these artifacts, which capture the history of the mining and oil and gas industries in this state, through their generous support of the museum,” he said. “As dean, I would like to personally commend Royce for his many years of service and loyalty to our College and University.” Danielle Petrak, curator for the Museum, echoed Cilento’s comments, adding, “The Watts Museum plays an important part in helping us, as West Virginians, learn, enjoy and


appreciate our industrial history and heritage. The Museum would not have grown to what it is today without the support of Royce and Caroline. With this gift, the Museum can keep expanding and developing for decades to come by creating more exhibits and programs, reaching larger audiences and continuing to safeguard the thousands of historical artifacts in its collection.” Watts, who earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from WVU, has received many awards for his service to WVU, the Mineral Resources Alumni Chapter of WVU and the West Virginia coal industry. In 1997, he was recognized as a Distinguished West Virginian by then-Gov. Cecil Underwood for his contributions to the continuing education of mining professionals. In 2007, he received the Erskine Ramsey Gold Medal by the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers and was named the Most Loyal Faculty Mountaineer during WVU’s Homecoming celebrations. In 2008, he was inducted into the West Virginia Coal Hall of Fame. Watts served in the U.S. Army for several years, both in World War II and the Korean War and received numerous awards and decorations, including the Silver Star. After leaving active duty, he served in the Army Reserve for many years, retiring as a full colonel in 1989. He has been on the staff in the Statler College for nearly 60 years. His wife, the former Caroline I. Baker of St. George, also earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from WVU, and is a retired high school teacher who taught in Monongalia County schools. “Royce and Caroline have been very generous with their support of the Museum with an eye toward ensuring this valuable resource is available for years to come,” said Robert Bragg, director of development with the Statler College. “Additional support is needed to ensure their vision lives on.” For more information on how you can make your gift to the Watts Museum, contact Bragg at 304-293-4036 or via email at robert.bragg@mail.wvu.edu. The gift was made in conjunction with “A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University.” The $1 billion comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2017. For more information on “A State of Minds” visit http://www.astateofminds.com.

volume 11 issue 1


Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts

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 16, 2015

Statler College Visiting Committee October 1-2, 2015

Graduate Emeritus Weekend June 4-6, 2015

Football Tent / WVU vs. Oklahoma State October 10, 2015

West Virginia State Fair August 14-25, 2015

Football Tent / WVU vs. Texas Tech November 07, 2015

Engineering and Computer Science Career Fair September 23-24, 2015

Faculty Hiring 2015–2016

The Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources is recruiting for open faculty positions in the 2015-2016 academic year. For more information visit: www.statler.wvu.edu/news/jobs.php.

EngineeringWV Spring 2015  

The Benjamin M. Statler College's bi-annual magazine featuring undergraduate research, awarding winning faculty, research, alumni and studen...

EngineeringWV Spring 2015  

The Benjamin M. Statler College's bi-annual magazine featuring undergraduate research, awarding winning faculty, research, alumni and studen...

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