The University of Texas at Arlington | College of Engineering Dispatches from the Forefront of Discovery
How the college is creating an environment where good ideas transition into good products on the open market
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Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs College of Engineering Dean
fall 2013 Volume II, Number 1
Pursuing Imaginative Innovations Three faculty members are finding creative solutions to pressing issues in renewable energy and medical technology.
Associate Dean for Graduate Affairs
Interim Associate Dean for Research
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
J. Carter Tiernan
Director of Communications
Director of Marketing Services
University Communications Associate Vice President for Communications and Marketing
At the Forefront of
COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING
P. David Johnson
Innovation Inc. The College of Engineering is working to become a research incubator by increasing its focus on commercialization and collaboration.
Robert Crosby Beth McHenry
t UT Arlington we’re asking big questions and seeking innovative solutions. Our students and faculty tackle the pressing problems in today’s society, everything from clean energy to health care solutions to national security. With more than 4,800 students and 31 degree programs, the College of Engineering is one of the largest and most comprehensive engineering programs in the state, providing students the resources, support, and expert knowledge they need to succeed.
To learn more about the College of Engineering, including information on our graduate programs, many corporate outreach opportunities, and more, visit www.uta.edu/engineering.
UTA Engineer is published by University Communications. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. The comments and opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily represent those of The University of Texas at Arlington or the staff of UTA Engineer. Copyright 2013, The University of Texas at Arlington. An equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. College of Engineering UT Arlington Box 19019 Arlington, TX 76019 817-272-3682 [email protected]
Untangling Traffic Researchers in the college are developing an expansive computer data network to provide drivers with better information about their commutes.
2 Dispatch 3 Lab notes 4 Faculty
6 Research 8 Classroom
Bioengineer Honored Khosrow Behbehani’s sleep apnea research helped him earn a prestigious IEEE fellowship.
Power Up Pushing batteries to their limits is the goal of one UTA electrical engineer.
20 Beyond the Lab
21 Donor 22 Alumni
23 Class Notes 24 Re-Engineered
Focus on Innovation
In this second issue of UTAEngineer, you will read about the college building an “innovation ecosystem,” in which highly talented people from academia and industry collaborate on innovative ideas and share resources to create high-tech products and services. Our aim is to promote and grow collaborations between the College of Engineering and other educational and research entities within UT Arlington as well as industry and other institutions. In the College of Engineering, this innovation ecosystem will foster an active intellectual environment for students and faculty and will inspire them to pursue innovative ideas for improving the quality of life for all. The positive impact of such a system will create more high-tech job opportunities for the bright minds both in Texas and in the greater United States. The innovation ecosystem is evolving fast with the achievements of faculty and students. Three faculty won NSF CAREER Awards this year, four were elected to the National Academy of Inventors, and two Ph.D. students competed for investor money in entrepreneurial ventures started at the University. Our students are leading our progress. At the annual student awards banquet, seven students were recognized for winning national awards, including two Goldwater Scholarships, two Amelia Earhart Fellowships, a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, the first-ever undergraduate Boeing/Flightglobal Student of the Year Award, and a National Science Foundation East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes Fellowship. In all, 166 students earned scholarships and awards this year. Our new class of students exceeds all expectations. More than 400 students who won President’s Charter Scholarships, Outstanding Freshman Scholarships, and Outstanding Transfer Scholarships joined the college for the fall 2013 semester. Finally, we are thrilled to welcome Vistasp Karbhari as our new University president. We look forward to working with him to continue UT Arlington’s rise to Tier One status. We hope the stories on these pages will illustrate the transformation that is underway in the College of Engineering, and that you will visit the campus soon to see our faculty and students in action.
The latest developments from the college, its faculty, and its students
Leading the Way in Engineering Education
Engineering training and research is key to maintaining Texas’ national and global competitiveness. To this end, UT System Board of Regents Vice Chairman Gene Powell and Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa recently announced the creation of the Task Force on Engineering Education for Texas in the 21st Century. The goal of the task force is to determine the current state of engineering degree programs in Texas. To do so, members will study current and future demand for engineers and identify strategies for the Texas Legislature and higher education leaders that will foster student success while supporting economic growth across the state. “The field of engineering is incredibly important, both to our state and to our nation, and enhances the economic vibrancy in Texas,” Dr. Cigarroa says. “We need to determine if our higher education system has the capacity, including enough faculty, to prepare our engineering students and produce not only enough engineers but also the right types of engineers to support the state’s increased workforce demands.”
Dr. Khosrow Behbehani was named dean of the College of Engineering in spring 2013. The bioengineer is a progressive and innovative leader who is dedicated to aiding the University in its goal of attaining Tier One status.
Vistasp M. Karbhari
Committed to Excellence
Vistasp Karbhari believes UT Arlington possesses unique strengths that will provide opportunities to scale new heights. He began leading the climb in June when he became the University’s eighth president. “UT Arlington stands poised to take the next step toward Tier One status and, more importantly, toward being a model 21st-century urban university, a shining example for others to follow,” he says. “Together we will become a world-class institution, a preeminent place for intellectual pursuits, and a driver of positive change.” President Karbhari is committed to advancing UT Arlington’s national and international profile, strengthening excellence in research and teaching, and fostering the success of the University’s undergraduate and graduate students. Prior to joining UT Arlington, he was provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and a faculty member at the University of California, San Diego. A prolific researcher, President Karbhari has authored or co-authored more than 460 papers and edited or co-edited four books. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s in structures from the University of Poona in India, and a Ph.D. in composite materials from the University of Delaware. Over the years, he has received numerous awards for research, teaching, and innovation.
Dean, UT Arlington College of Engineering
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Lab Notes Faculty
Khosrow Behbehani, bioengineering professor and dean of engineering, was named a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for his contributions to the development of respiratory therapy devices in chronic pulmonary diseases. “I’m honored,” Dr. Behbehani says. “I hope that more of the devices and techniques I’ve helped develop that led to this award find their way to commercialization, where they can help many people.” The majority of Behbehani’s work has focused on inventing devices and methods for the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea. He and his colleagues hold nine U.S. patents and recently filed for another on an innovative, ultrasonic sensor system that can accurately detect whether a person suffers from sleep apnea without the inconvenience or cost associated with an overnight stay in a sleep center. IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership for the organization and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement.
Gold Star Teacher When it comes to teaching, K.J.
(Jamie) Rogers is one of the best. The industrial and manufacturing systems engineering associate professor was honored for excellence in the classroom by The University of Texas System Board of Regents. “I am humbled to have been selected for the Outstanding Teaching Award and I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to integrate my passion for learning, teaching, and engineering at UT Arlington,” Dr. Rogers says. “The importance of educating future engineers has never been more critical. It is my goal that students see learning can be a fun, lifelong endeavor to be approached with enthusiasm.”
K.J. Rogers received a top teaching honor from the UT System Board of Regents.
Whole Lotta Shakin’
Sensing Trouble in the Water Supply
Hyeok Choi and Sungyong Jung are researching ways to make water safe from biological toxins. Dr. Choi, an assistant professor of civil engineering, received a three-year grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation to identify harmful algal blooms in fresh and salt water, thus helping water providers contain and curb them. Dr. Jung, an associate professor of electrical engineering, is building sensors for the project. “The U.S. Geological Survey or Environmental Protection Agency will direct our research team to two or three sites with a high concentration of biological toxins,” Choi says. There, the engineers will deploy the sensors and collect samples, then measure the toxins in the water. The EPA also plans to test the water samples. “We hope that eventually water providers like cities and treatment centers will be able to use our information to make the water safer for everyone,” Choi says. He and his team are also collaborating with New Mexico State and Virginia Tech researchers on the project.
What’s the best way to test a building’s ability to withstand earthquakes? Create your own natural disaster. That’s what Andreas Stavridis is doing as part of his new National Science Foundation grant. The UT Arlington civil engineering assistant professor is developing numerical earthquake simulation tools to predict the performance and strength of buildings in future quakes. His research results could lead to changes in building codes so that structures will be able to withstand more severe earthquakes with less damage. “Predicting the strength of existing buildings and their performance in future earthquakes is crucial, as it will allow us to determine which buildings are safe and which need to be retrofitted or demolished,” Dr. Stavridis says. “We will develop new models and provide guidelines so that practicing engineers can apply them on any building of the same type.”
Professor Behbehani’s sensor system can help detect sleep apnea with less inconvenience to the patient.
The Society of Automotive Engineers International has honored UT Arlington Professor Bob Woods, the longtime adviser to the University’s Formula SAE racing team, with its annual Excellence in Engineering Education Award. The “Triple E” Award recognizes outstanding contributions made by an individual toward engi-
neering education. Dr. Woods joined the College of Engineering in 1974 and has developed one of the most successful student racing programs in the country. Each year, mechanical and aerospace engineering students build and compete against peers in a car of their design. The team is currently developing an all-electric model that
will be ready for competition in 2014. Earlier this year, the Formula SAE team held its first alumni/sponsor banquet to celebrate 30 years of Formula SAE at UTA. The banquet reunited teams dating to the Mini Baja days in 1978 and featured the debut of Woods’ book detailing the program’s history and innovations.
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Lab Notes research
Knowing that a product will work correctly once it is released to the public is vital to any industry, but especially in software engineering, where there can be an infinite number of ways for an application to be used. One solution for quality assurance in this field is combinatorial testing, which allows users to reduce those scenarios to a carefully selected few that can predict with a high level of certainty that the application will work in all scenarios. Jeff Lei of the Computer Science and Engineering Department and his colleagues have developed an algorithm and a tool to make combinatorial testing work in realworld applications such as health care, where software glitches can lead to equipment failure and other disastrous results.
Building A Better Test
Sahadat Hossain and Melanie Sattler
Landfill Gas May Power Homes
Associate Professors Sahadat Hossain and Melanie Sattler are on the hunt for a dangerous escapee— landfill gas. The civil engineers are monitoring “fugitive emissions” of landfill gas as part of their work to implement the first Enhanced Leachate Recirculation (ELR) landfill in Texas. Their goal is to increase the efficiency of the landfill gas collection system in Denton so the city can use it to power 3,000 households. ELR landfills add water to more rapidly decompose organic materials and produce methane. Drs. Hossain and Sattler used the resistivity imaging method to help landfill managers know how effectively the leachate recirculation system is working, and Hossain and his former student Huda Shihada developed a model to quantify the moisture content without using drilling or destructive sampling. (This is the first time a model like this has been developed in the world.) “When you drill holes to collect samples, some methane gas escapes into the atmosphere,” Sattler says. “Methane is a greenhouse gas. With the new system, you don’t need to drill holes.”
A team of researchers is developing a gaming program to help arthritis victims.
Rehabilitation Through Game Play
Fillia Makedon, Jenkins Garrett Distinguished Professor and chair of the Computer Science and Engineering Department, and her team of researchers are creating a gaming program that remotely monitors people with rheumatoid arthritis. The rehabilitation system collects and analyzes a person’s physiological and cognitive data while he or she is engaged in an interactive, game-like activity. The goal is to aid with diagnosis and progress assessment, and to encourage patients to follow their doctor’s prescribed regimen. Heng Huang, associate professor of computer science and engineering, and Vangelis Metsis, a research associate, are co-principal investigators on the project. The work is funded by a National Science Foundation grant.
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Imagine a human-like robot with sensors embedded in its skin and clothes to help it accurately perceive the environment and assist people in need. Such “smart” robots are at the heart of a new, $1.35 million National Science Foundation project led by Dan Popa, an associate professor of electrical engineering. “Our goal is to make robots and robotic technology more humanlike and more humanfriendly,” says Dr. Popa, who leads the College of Engineering’s Next Gen Systems group. “Robotic devices need to be safe and better able to detect human intent.”
Reducing the heat produced by integrated circuits is the goal of a new project in the college.
Creating a Chip Cool-Down
In an effort to pile more power atop silicon chips, engineers have developed the equivalent of mini-skyscrapers in 3-D integrated circuits. But with these advancements comes a new challenge: managing the heat created within the tiny devices. A team of UT Arlington researchers funded by the National Science Foundation is working to both minimize the heat generated and to develop nano-windows that will allow it to dissipate before it damages the chip. “These 3-D integrated circuits have led to significant performance improvements. However, when we stack these circuits on top of each other, heat starts to become a problem,” says Ankur Jain, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. “All the heat being generated in this multi-layer stack needs to be removed, otherwise it causes deterioration in performance.” Dr. Jain is working with colleague Dereje Agonafer, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Roger Schmidt, IBM fellow and chief engineer, on the project.
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Lab Notes Classroom
Exceptional Undergrad Named Goldwater Scholar
Elijah Stevens, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, was named a Goldwater Scholar, becoming the secondever student to earn the award in UT Arlington’s history. He received honorable mention honors last year. As he enters his final year of undergraduate study, Stevens is preparing to pursue a master’s degree and engage in rocket propulsion research. “Winning the Goldwater Scholarship will help me get through the rest of my undergraduate degree and compete for graduate scholarships that will get me into—and pay for—graduate school,” he says. “More importantly, it is recognition of the quality education and mentoring I am receiving here at UTA.” The Goldwater Scholarship is awarded based on merit; its goal is to encourage a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by offering financial support in those fields. In summer 2012, Stevens was also selected for the NASA Academy Program at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. The experience provided him with further motivation for research and focused his interest on the related fields of rocket nozzle structures and gas dynamics.
An Eye to the Sky Ever since she was a little girl, Ya-yu
“Monica” Hew dreamed of lifting off into space. Her mother, however, wanted her to be a medical doctor. Space won. The recently graduated aerospace engineering and physics major became the first-ever winner of the Boeing/ Flightglobal Undergraduate Student of the Year Award. In addition to her studies—in which she earned a 4.0 grade point average—Hew worked as an undergraduate researcher in Haiying Huang’s Advanced Sensor Technology Laboratory. “UTA’s strength is its faculty,” she says. “They inspire you to do things you never thought you could do.”
UT Arlington College of Engineering Enrollment
OVERALL International Students: 35%
Graduate International Students: 84.7%
Enabling Transfer Success for students
Each year, nearly half of the College of Engineering’s new students are transfers. Since many of them come from local community colleges, the University has close relationships with those institutions to provide clarity about what courses students should take prior to enrolling at UT Arlington to help ensure their successful transition. “While community college transfers are a very large group of incoming students, data shows that many struggle upon arrival,” says Senior Associate Engineering Dean Lynn Peterson. “We are working with our partners to support transfer student success.” Knowing early on that students are thinking about transferring to the University allows for planning on both sides, Dr. Peterson explains. “We encourage potential transfer students to contact an academic adviser early in the process and not wait until they get to campus. If the student is working with us early, we can help them make the right decisions to ultimately succeed here.” The College of Engineering has had transfer agreements in place for many years with Tarrant County College and Dallas County’s Richland College. This year, it added a formal agreement with McLennan Community College near Waco, Texas.
The College of Engineering’s graduate students have a distinctly international flair. That’s not surprising, considering it is one of the most diverse schools of its kind in the nation. According to information provided by U.S. News & World Report , the college enrolled the fifth-highest percentage of full-time international graduate students during fall 2011. At all of the top 11 schools, international students made up at least 81 percent of their full-time enrollees; for the College of Engineering, it was 84.7 percent. The college also enrolls the fifthhighest total number of full-time international students (985) among those schools. Overall, including undergraduate students, the college is composed of about 35 percent international students, compared to 9.3 percent for UT Arlington as a whole.
We Are The World
Goldwater Scholar Elijah Stevens hopes to pursue rocket propulsion research.
Ya-yu Hew won the first-ever Boeing/ Flightglobal Undergraduate Student of the Year Award.
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Commuters all over the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex may be singing UT Arlington’s praises in five years. That’s when the College of Engineering’s $8.3 million project to help motorists better navigate regional traffic is expected to conclude. Funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Dallas Area Rapid Transit, researchers are developing an expansive computer data network that will be the backbone of the larger Integrated Corridor Management project. The latter is a regional effort to fuse massive amounts of up-to-the-minute, live transportation data and provide drivers better real-time information about road congestion, accidents, and alternate routes. Its goal is to help motorists navigate U.S. 75 and its major neighboring arterials from downtown Dallas to Texas 121. “Mobility is one of the dominant issues in our region, and we have access to comprehensive data that can help motorists and traffic engineers improve the way we navigate major travel corridors,” says Sia Ardekani, the civil engineering professor who is spearheading the data collection network. Dr. Ardekani and Steve Mattingly, an associate professor of civil engineering, are leading UT Arlington’s involvement in the regional team, which includes Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University, and Texas Southern University. Additional partners are the North Central Texas Council of Governments; the North Texas Tollway Authority; the cities of Dallas, Richardson, Plano, Highland Park, and University Park; and Telvent, a designer of advanced intelligent infrastructure management tools. The team plans to develop a related cellphone application that will send text messages to warn motorists about traffic snarls. The comprehensive data also will be integrated into a 5-1-1 transportation and traffic information system similar to those in place elsewhere around the country. •
UT Arlington engineers are partnering with agencies across the region to help North Texas motorists get to their destinations more efficiently.
The goal of the Integrated Corridor Management project is to provide up-to-the-minute, live transportation data to motorists.
Professor Sia Ardekani hopes his research will help drivers get where they need to be quickly.
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Pursuing Imaginative Innovations
Three faculty members are proving their potential by using creative methods to help develop important technology. And thanks to their new CAREER Awards, they now have the support they need to let their imaginations loose.
Using sound to produce better sight. Mixing electronics with liquids to test drug treatments. Turning semiconductors into sunshine converters. Transformative innovations take many forms, but often the most important are also the most creative. Three UT Arlington engineers—Baohong Yuan from the Bioengineering Department, Fuqiang Liu from the Materials Science and Engineering Department, and Hyejin Moon from the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department—are proving just that with their imaginative solutions to pressing problems in renewable energy and medical technology. Their diligent efforts have already paid off, as the three assistant professors each recently earned a prestigious CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation.
Baohong Yuan, Hyejin Moon, and Fuqiang Liu recently received CAREER Awards.
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developing nanoparticles that use sound to help focus and localize the light. Essentially, these specially designed nanoparticles do not fluoresce when illuminated by a light source: When the mechanical energy of the sound waves hits the nanoparticles, it acts like a switch to enable them to glow when excited by the light source. Ideally, Yuan says, doctors could scan several spots and create a 3-D image of a tumor or of Using Sound to Control Light muscle damage. For doctors who want to get a good view of tissue “There are many potential applications for damage or tumors, there has always been a stubborn barrier blocking their pictures: skin. In order this technology if we are successful,” he explains. to see tumors lying deep inside the body, they are “In cancer diagnosis, the imaging will be clearer forced to either take a biopsy—an invasive proce- and deeper than we can see now, and it might be dure for the patient—or rely on expensive medical able to capture views of small tumors that other approaches can’t. It may also help monitor deep imaging such as an MRI or CT scan. tissue recovery after injury or surgery.” But bioengineer Baohong Yuan thinks he’s uncovered a better way to create high-resolution images of deep tissue damage. In several prelimi- Making Solar Energy Efficient Fuqiang Liu gave his class an assignment during nary studies, the assistant professor has shown the feasibility of using light, sound, and nanopar- the spring 2013 semester: Calculate how long it would take to deplete all of the fossil fuel ticles to produce the elusive pictures. “When you go deep inside the body, the resolu- resources on the planet. His students’ answer— less than 100 years—is a stark reminder of the tion of your image—the smallest thing you can urgent need to find and develop diverse, reliable see—suffers, so if you want to get a picture of alternative energy sources. very small things, you can’t go deep,” Dr. Yuan In his research, Dr. Liu, an assistant professor says. “We’re combining ultrasound and optical in the Materials Science and Engineering Departimaging to try to break this limit and see very ment, has focused on solar energy, which is the small things at a greater depth.” When doctors shine light into tissue it diffuses, most abundant type of energy on the planet. Yet because it is difficult to store, its use is not much as it does when you try to shine a light widespread. through your hand. Since the light waves are “The problem with solar power is that it is scattered, the image loses resolution. But Yuan is The CAREER Program supports promising tenure-track faculty who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization. The award helps them establish a solid foundation for further research over their career by offering them their first major grant.
(Left) Hyejin Moon’s microchips can test microscopic amounts of tissue material; (center) Baohong Yuan is using sound to help sharpen images of deep tissue damage; (right) Fuqiang Liu’s solution to solar energy storage involves using semiconductors to generate artificial photosynthesis.
erratic and it is impossible to predict its output,” Liu explains. “Thus, storage of the energy produced becomes an important factor in its use.” Liu, who has been at UT Arlington since 2009, is searching for a solution to the problem of storing solar energy by using semiconductors to generate what amounts to artificial photosynthesis. The semiconductor works by putting different ion species into an electrolyte and then shining light on it. Electrons in the semiconductor have two energy states: the valance band and the conduction band. The interaction between the sunlight and the semiconductor excites the electrons from the valence band to the conduction band. When an electron moves, it leaves a hole, which Liu uses to create photoelectrochemical reactions with redox ion species that will store energy. “Previously, people converted solar energy into hydrogen. Hydrogen is a gas, which means it has a low-energy density and must be compressed to optimize energy conversion. Transporting it also is an issue,” Liu says. “In contrast, with the redox process, the reaction rate at the surface of the semiconductor is several orders of magnitude higher, so it is faster and highly efficient.” In addition to providing greater efficiency and output, Liu’s semiconductor is less expensive than current technology, so the cost of producing and storing energy would decrease significantly. Liu envisions his convertor as primarily being used for stationary applications, like powering buildings. “So far, we have limited data, but it indicates potential success. There’s a long way
to go to get from the idea stage to success and broad application, but it’s very exciting,” he says. “We believe that our approach has the potential to transform solar energy storage as we know it, and the CAREER Award will boost our momentum.” Improving Tissue and Cell Sample Analysis Mechanical engineering Assistant Professor Hyejin Moon received her CAREER Award grant to support her efforts to improve 3-D tissue and cell sample analyses. Her approach to the issue is novel, as she is using microchips to test microscopic amounts of the materials. In her lab, Dr. Moon places small drops of liquid on a chip, controlling their position with electrical impulses. “It’s like a chessboard,” she explains. “You can control the motion of the drop in four directions by changing the voltage.” The innovative devices produce more accurate images and conditions of huge numbers of samples, which in turn allows doctors and scientists to more quickly identify disease biomarkers and test the efficiency of drug
We believe that our approach has the potential to transform solar energy storage as we know it.
cocktails. The latter could lead to speedier drug development. Moon says her microfluidic device technology is a faster and more reliable method of analyzing samples than traditional testing performed in petri dishes, a process that can take weeks or months to show results. In contrast, testing performed on the chips can be easily repeated, saving time and increasing accuracy. “For example, if you are testing cancer drugs, you could put several drugs on a chip and deliver drug combinations to cancer cells to see what is most effective,” she explains. “Doing that by hand would be very labor-intensive and time-consuming. What’s even better is that the device engineers the cell and tissue samples into a 3-D configuration. That’s closer to an accurate portrayal of our bodies.” The research is a collaborative effort involving bio-, chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineers. Ultimately, their work may lead to the development of devices that could be used by patients in their own homes—they would be able to monitor how their body is doing by
placing saliva or blood on a chip, which would be programmed to perform the proper tests. The technology could be paired with wireless technology that would send results directly to a doctor’s office. “Winning a CAREER Award makes me feel more secure because I know that it increases the chances of me finishing my research,” Moon says. “It opens doors with other funding sources and gives me the confidence to push harder in the long term.” She cites the involvement of several different departments at UT Arlington as a strength of her study that also benefits her students: “The University has a very good environment in which to perform multi-disciplinary research. I’m glad I’m here because of that. The National Science Foundation and other organizations are looking for that type of cooperation, and our students will be very versatile after working in my lab.” As Assistant Professors Yuan, Liu, and Moon are showing, to find new solutions to old problems, sometimes you must let your imagination run wild. The freedom UT Arlington’s College of Engineering grants to its faculty to go wherever their research takes them—however off the beaten path it may be—is a big reason why seven of its researchers have received CAREER Awards within the past few years. It’s just one more way the college is continuing to improve its standing among its peer institutions and further distinguish itself from the fold. •
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Doctoral student Ben Johnston embodies the College of Engineering’s entrepreneurial spirit.
By focusing on collaboration and commercialization, researchers in the College of Engineering are helping cultivate an innovation ecosystem on campus.
Within the walls of the Engineering Research Building, UT Arlington researchers are making incredible discoveries and amassing new knowledge on an array of topics. But if their research never travels beyond their offices and laboratories, what is its real value? As competition for research funding increases among universities and the focus shifts ever more to privatization and collaboration, it is becoming clear that research cannot exist in a vacuum. Results that show promise in a lab must be commercialized and put into society for the benefit of everyone. As a consequence, those entrepreneurs who are best able to capitalize on their inventions have the most to gain. Using this line of thinking, the National Academy of Engineering coined the term “innovation ecosystem” to describe research incubators that create an environment where good ideas transition into good products on the open market. And the College of Engineering believes it can become one such incubator, a place where researchers achieve results that both benefit society and provide a return on the University’s investment. An Institute of Inventors Luckily, the College of Engineering has no shortage of innovators. Ideas flow freely among colleagues here, and collaboration is common. Inventions and patents are, too, and many professors have gone on to form companies based on their research. So it’s no surprise that four engineering faculty were chosen as charter fellows of the National Academy of Inventors in 2012. Khosrow Behbehani, bioengineering professor and dean of engineering; Nai Yuen Chen, National Academy of Engineering member and distinguished research professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department; George Kondraske, electrical engineering professor; and Robert
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(Above) An example of the research being done at UTARI is this 3D pointof-gaze tracking headset; (right) Behbehani’s sleep apnea sensors
Magnusson, Texas Instruments Distinguished University Chair in Nanoelectronics and electrical engineering professor, were recognized for their highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society. Ron Elsenbaumer, UT Arlington provost and vice president for academic affairs, believes the new fellows are well deserving of such an honor. “These distinguished faculty members truly are leaders in their respective fields,” he says. “They are models of innovation and invention and have shared their passion for discovery with students and colleagues.” Dr. Behbehani, who was recently named a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, has developed sensor devices aimed at helping people who suffer from sleep apnea and related respiratory maladies. Dr. Chen worked at ExxonMobil for 33 years before joining the University in 2011. He is inventor or co-inventor of 126 U.S. patents on novel catalysts, oil refining, and petrochemical and biomass processes. Dr. Kondraske, meanwhile, teamed with a graduate student to develop a software feature for computers and phones that identifies text and suggests a word to be used. He also is founding director of the UT Arlington Human Performance Institute. Finally, Dr. Magnusson has focused his research on a diverse selection of topics, including drug discovery, diagnostics, medical devices, homeland security, and solar cells. These four UT Arlington professors are among 98 innovators elected to NAI fellow status this year. Together, the charter class represents 54 universities and nonprofit research institutes and holds more than 3,200 U.S. patents. It also includes eight Nobel Laureates, two fellows of the Royal Society, and many other prestigious award winners. The National Academy of Inventors was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with a patent issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It comprises more than 100 American and international universities and nonprofit research institutes, with more than 2,000 individual academic inventor members. The Future of Entrepreneurism If the four NAI fellows embody the College of Engineering’s passion for innovation, then Ben Johnston represents its entrepreneurial spirit. The bioengineering doctoral student worked as an entrepreneur at a tech company in Boston prior to returning to school and has continued to seek ways to commercialize his research. In 2012, he invented a microbial fuel cell that can create energy by harvesting and converting hydrogen from food waste. The invention won the Texas Greenovation contest and netted him cash and assistance from the Small Business Development Center for Enterprise Excellence. This spring, Johnston was selected by the National Center of Engineering Pathways to Innovation of Stanford University to attend the OPEN 2013 Conference in Washington, D.C., as part of the Student Ambassadors Program. OPEN is co-sponsored by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alli-
ance (NCIIA), which helps student and faculty innovators and entrepreneurs bring their concepts to commercialization. “I think it is a good thing to be accepted because of the people you get to meet and learn from. The NCIIA has a membership of nearly 200 colleges and universities across the United States. My student colleagues were all from Tier One universities, and the two program directors were very kind and talented. It was really inspiring and made me want to work even harder,” Johnston says. “I especially enjoyed talking with the other graduate students who had taken incredible steps to develop a technology into a product.” Johnston believes that learning from experienced people interested in helping students build technology companies is the best way to become an entrepreneur. So it makes sense that he is teaming with researchers in Bioengineering Associate Professor Mario Romero-Ortega’s Regenerative Neurobiology lab at UT Arlington to launch his new company, Applied Regenerative Techologies. The alliance is already off to a good start, as the group—which includes Rafael Granja-Vazquez, M.D., from UT Southwestern—was one of 10 winners of the 2013 Rice Alliance Most Promising Life Science Company Award.
“We are trying to connect the needs of our customers with the research that’s being done on campus. In five years, we will have 400 researchers employed here, but now we rely on our faculty partners. Our most critical relationship is the one we have with the College of Engineering,” Lynch says. Shortly after arriving on campus, Lynch convinced University administrators that an enterprise approach would be the best way to optimize facility usage. To achieve this, the director is giving faculty and their teams access to UTARI’s facilities and working to link that research with industry partners who are willing to take it to market. According to Lynch, it is critical to get the advanced technology produced by engineering research in the hands of users, and the way to do that is through commercialization. “We’re a business engine,” he explains. “To generate the money that the University wants us to, we have to focus on research that will be commercially viable in two years. We tell them what we’re working on, listen to what they’re working on, and try to find ways to connect. The key is strategic partnerships.” Collaboration within UT Arlington is also important to the success of the UTARI plan. Lynch has talked to College of Business Dean Rachel Croson to explore establishing ways that she and her colleagues can assist in the creation of busiPaving the Way to Commercialization ness plans and the marketing of products. He also envisions an Experienced people are a key ingredient of the UT Arlington Research Institute’s (UTARI) success. Formerly known as ARRI, environment where entrepreneurs who are on the engineering faculty will be available to mentor colleagues who are going the revamped institute is where the College of Engineering through the process of bringing a product to market for the turns to explore commercialization of the results of laboratory research. UTARI aims to become a global leader in the research first time to help them avoid common pitfalls. “Commercialization of research is really a combination of and development of advanced technology to help humanity and our laboratories and collaboration with industry,” Lynch says. to provide unique, affordable solutions to complex problems. “If there is a market for a product like Zeno, the robot who Led by retired Army Gen. Rick Lynch, the Research works with autistic children, it’s easy. If not, we must connect Institute has set a goal of producing $100 million annually in with industry partners who can help move our research into research expenditures in key areas such as advanced manuthe mainstream.” • facturing and applied robotics.
We are trying to connect the needs of our customers with the research that’s being done on campus.
Researchers are making important breakthroughs in non-invasive imaging (left) and wireless sensors.
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Beyond the Lab
Alum is Engineer of the Year
Civil engineering alumnus Faisal Syed, PE, PTOE, was recently named Engineer of the Year by the Dallas Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Syed is the principal of the Urban Engineers Group in Dallas, which specializes in municipal infrastructure engineering services. He earned a master’s degree in civil engineering (transportation) at UT Arlington in 1995. A member of several honor societies, he also actively participated in extra-curricular activities at UTA, including serving as president of the Institute of Traffic Engineers’ student chapter. He is the current student chapter liaison for the Dallas Branch of ASCE.
The latest developments from the college’s alumni and donors
Honoring a Young Alumnus
Hardik Shah (MS ’03, Biomedical Engineering) was passionate about learning, and he pursued his education with great determination. When he died in 2011 at age 31, his wife, Pooja Shah, wanted to make sure his passion lived on through the Hardik Shah Endowed Scholarship. Shah remembers her husband as an excellent, dedicated student who was driven to succeed. “His enthusiasm about education, life, and work ethic was an inspiration for family and friends,” she says. “I strongly believe that a sustainable education is like a loadbearing wall in a building. Without it, one cannot stay upright on their feet,” Shah continues. “It is crucial that we produce skilled engineering professionals, so I have chosen to remember Hardik with this scholarship.”
Robert Naini (BS ’02, MAE; MBA ’04) was named chief operating officer for Demilec (USA) LLC in December. He has worked for the company for more than eight years. “Through Robert’s efforts, the Engineering Department is a source of knowledge and support for our personnel, customers, and industry officials,” Demilec CEO Dave Lall says. “Robert is an asset to the company and a true leader who we will stand behind for years to come.” Demilec (USA) LLC is an industry-leading manufacturer of energy-efficient, environmentally friendly spray polyurethane foam insulation and coatings.
naini Named COO of Demilec
Arnold Petsche’s $1 million gift to the college will fund a prestigious new center for automotive engineering.
Yahoo! is contributing to Dereje Agonafer’s research on making servers more energy-efficient.
UTARI’s nursing assistant robot can perform a variety of helpful tasks.
Yahoo! Donation Fuels Research
Runner™ 20 model robot and funding to assist with research and development, for a total value of $200,000. The DR-20 is a small, portable device that can navigate various terrains and aid in reconnaissance or first-responder scenarios. “These technologies can be refined and adapted for myriad civilian uses and put to work to help us all live better lives,” says Rick Lynch, UT Arlington Research Institute executive director.
Robots to Enhance Lives
Fueled by gifts of high-tech robots from industry leaders, the UT Arlington Research Institute recently opened a new Assistive Robotics Lab aimed at advancing robotics for health care, firstresponder, and other applications. RE2 Inc. gave the University an $850,000 mobile robotic nursing assistant that can aid with physically intensive tasks, such as helping a patient sit up or transfer to a gurney. QinetiQ North America Inc. donated a Dragon
Yahoo! is the latest tech company to contribute to mechanical engineering Professor Dereje Agonafer’s research, with a donation of 250 servers to help continue work being done by the Industry/University Cooperative Research Center in Energy-Efficient Electronic Systems. Dr. Agonafer’s findings could help companies such as Yahoo! save millions of dollars on cooling their data centers. “This donation will enable us to maintain our cutting-edge research in thermal management of data centers and positively impact the education and training of our future workforce,” says Erian Armanios, chair of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department.
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Beyond the Lab Alumni
Mechanical engineering alumnus Emmanuel Fierro is finding success after graduation.
1961 1982 1990
Nasser Ghariban (MS, ’94 PhD, Mechanical Engineering) is associate professor of manufacturing engineering at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Va. C. Roland Haden (BS, Mike Guyton (BS, Electrical Engineering) Electrical Engineering) was named to a threewas elected secretary year term as president for the board of direcof the Wingfield Family tors of Leaders and Society in June. He also Executives Advocation will serve as the Lord Diversity, a nonprofit of the Manor of Wingorganization in Fort field, an official English Worth. He is vice title. Dr. Haden is a president of customer UT Arlington Distinrelations for Oncor guished Alumnus. Electric Delivery.
updates, news, and goings-on from engineering alumni
technology to help people give back to their communities. He previously worked at Nokia in Dallas. Hetal Bhatt (MS, Civil Engineering) is a traffic engineer for the City of Arlington.
an article in the Winter Haven Ledger, a newspaper in Florida.
Russell Ghorishy (BS, Mechanical Engineering) is vice president of Ryan Corp. in Newport Coast, Calif. Chuks Onwuneme (BS, Computer Science Engineering) launched Personify, a Seattle-based startup that uses mobile
Joel Ivy (BS, Electrical Engineering) is the general manager of Lakeland (Florida) Electric. He recently was featured in
Anthony Killoran (BS, Electrical Engineering) is an engineer with Oncor Electric Delivery in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Jerry Newell (BS, Mechanical Engineering) was named to the board of directors at Klotz Associates, an engineering, architectural, and environmental consulting firm based in Houston. He is vice president at Klotz and has been involved with water, wastewater, and transportation projects in Texas for nearly 40 years.
Don Taylor (BS, ’85 MS, Industrial Engineering) is department head of the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech.
Harlan Huffman (’65 BS, Industrial Engineering), 69, May 6, 2012, in McGregor, Texas. Mr. Huffman was an engineer for LTV Aerospace and Defense in Dallas. Marvin F. Shelley (’63 BS, Mechanical Engineering), 73, February 8, 2013, in Dallas. Mr. Shelley worked for LTV Electronics and Vought Aeronautics before moving into real estate. Robert Wayne McMillen (’65 BS, Mechanical Engineering), 72, January 17, 2013, in Celina, Texas. Mr. McMillen was an international mining salesman and, more recently, sold health and life insurance.
Dale N. Will (’91 BS, Computer Science Engineering), 54, March 1, 2013, in Arlington. Mr. Will worked as a director for Sandlot Solutions.
MOre Alumni/Giving info
Ken Hall (BS, Civil Engineering) was named Global Technology Leader of Water Supply Services at CH2M HILL, a global project delivery company that has more than 30,000 employees and $6.3 billion in annual gross revenue. He is based in Fort Worth.
Donald E. Horton (’82 BS, Electrical Engineering), 64, May 2, 2012, in Arlington. Mr. Horton was an embedded software engineer at Lockheed Martin.
Faculty and Staff
Kenneth Richard Halliday, 65, July 16, 2012, in Athens, Ohio. Dr. Halliday taught mechanical engineering at UT Arlington from 197779. Brenda Maler, 57, July 18, 2013, in Hutto,
Young Engineer on the Rise Emmanuel Fierro (BSME
’08) was named the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) North Texas Section 2013 Young Engineer of the Year in February. Fierro, who is currently completing his master’s degree at UT Arlington, is a production support, test, design, and analysis engineer for Raytheon. He has received several individual achievement awards while working there and was part of a group that received an Excellence in Quality Award. “My experience at UTA definitely has shaped my professional career,” he says. “The curriculum and professors have provided me with a great foundation, so I have confidence to take on challenging tasks in my profession.”
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Fred Buckingham (MS, ’93 PhD, Mechanical Engineering) is CEO and chairman of the board of directors for Alternative Petroleum Technologies, based in Reno, Nev. He has more than 35 years experience developing and deploying hybrid liquid fuel technology and was the keynote speaker at the college’s Fall 2012 Commencement ceremony.
Texas. Ms. Maler was an administrative services officer in the Dean’s Office from 2008-13. Clinton E. Parker, 77, December 14, 2012, in Arlington. Dr. Parker was the Civil Engineering Department chair from 198299. Harry Stephanou, 62, March 28, 2013, in Arlington. Dr. Stephanou was the director of the Automation and Robotics Research Institute (ARRI) and the Texas Microfactory from 2004-2012.
Teresa Finn (BS, Mechanical Engineering) was named vice president of new market development for IntelliCentrics in Dallas in December 2012.
Faculty member Soontorn Oraintara (Electrical Engineering) and several College of Engineering alumni gathered in Bangkok, Thailand, for the wedding of Att Kruafak (’06 PhD, Electrical Engineering) and Sothaya Rasmidatta (’06 MS, Electrical Engineering) in September. Dr. Att is the manager of the Voice Business Department for the Communication Authority of Thailand in Bangkok. Other alumni in attendance were:
Chivalai Temiyasathit (’03 MS, ’04 PhD, Industrial Engineering), an assistant professor in the International College at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang in Bangkok; Prattana (Sandy) Punnakitikashem (’03 MS, ’07 PhD, Industrial Engineering), a professor at Mahidol University in Bangkok; Yodchanan Wongsawat (MS ’03, PhD ’07, Electrical Engineering), an engineering professor at Mahidol University; and Punnapob Punnakitikasham (PhD ’11, Materials Science and Engineering), an engineer in Bangkok.
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A new way of looking at the objects of everyday life
SHAPE THE FUTURE. CHANGE A LIFE.
Students are UT Arlington’s most valuable resource. With your support, they can achieve great things. We’re preparing our engineering
students to become tomorrow’s leaders and to make a lasting impact on society. The College of Engineering provides abundant opportunities for students to work alongside world-class faculty, explore creative solutions to real-world problems, and transform ideas into viable products that drive economic development.
We all know the ability of batteries to power everything from children’s toys to automobiles. But what if that’s only the beginning of their functions? Electrical engineering Assistant Professor David Wetz’s research focuses on figuring out just that, and he is pushing batteries harder and farther than they’ve ever been pushed before. His goal is to make them store more energy in smaller packages for much larger applications. This is particularly important to the wind
Power Up Developing High-Energy, High-Power Batteries
and solar industries because they need ways to store energy when it is dark or when the wind isn’t blowing. “You don’t have a wall outlet everywhere, so sometimes you need batteries for power,” Dr. Wetz explains. “From an engineering perspective, the goal is to store more energy in smaller packages, design those packages so they can release that energy quickly at a higher power, and improve safety so they can be used anywhere. We’re looking at all different types and sizes, ranging from high-power to high-energy.” Wetz was awarded a Young Investigator Award in 2011 by the U.S. Office of Navy Research to study batteries that deliver an isolated power supply that can drive directed-energy weapons without affecting the rate at which a ship moves. Recently, he and electrical engineering Professor Wei-Jen Lee were named affiliate partners of Argonne National Laboratory’s
Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR). JCESR’s mission is to create batteries that are five times more powerful—and five times less expensive—than current ones within five years. As affiliate partners, they may be called upon to train and educate the next generation of energy researchers in the United States and contribute expertise in specialized areas of research using both the knowledge of the research staff and the current infrastructure. •
UT Arlington is committed to providing a first-rate, affordable education for as many students as possible. But we need your help to continue this mission. Your gift could fund a professorship, provide valuable equipment for research and teaching, or help a student fulfill his or her academic dreams. By investing in the Excellence Now annual giving program, you create a consistent stream of support that shapes the future of deserving Mavericks who, in turn, shape the future of our world. Make a gift online today at www.uta.edu/giving or call the Office of Development at 817-272-2584.
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The next time you enter the Nedderman Hall atrium, look up: An impressive sight awaits. A Schweizer 1-35 glider now hangs from the ceiling, restored by student design and race car engineering teams from the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department.
Restored Glider Takes Flight
The project began last year when Teresa Sykes, a Ph.D. candidate in the Geology Department, donated her father’s glider to the University. The teams restored the vehicle to FAA certification standards, with help from Dan Mockler (’12 MS) and Professor Bob Woods.