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Nebraska Honored for Undergraduate Education

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is one of 16 colleges and universities recognized by the Association of American Colleges and Universities for visionary campus-wide innovations in undergraduate education.

A team from the AAC&U visited campus for two days in November as part of its judging process of 73 campuses. The university was lauded for demonstrating “strong commitment to a liberal education relevant for the contemporary world,” said Andrea Leskes, AAC&U vice president, in a December announcement.

The 16 schools selected were characterized by extensive innovation in curriculum, pedagogy and organizational structure. At each of the institutions, the campus culture was deemed to support undergraduates within and outside the classroom, provide opportunities to “learn by doing,” emphasize critical thinking about complex problems, promote effective communication and the ability to contribute to a diverse society as an outcome of powerfully lasting undergraduate education.

Other schools recognized by AAC&U include Duke University, University of Michigan, University of Southern California, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Work Begins on Omaha Business Technology Facility

Work has begun on a university business research/tech transfer facility on the south campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

The facility will provide incubator space for start-up businesses developing and commercializing technology from The Peter Kiewit Institute and other units across all NU campuses.

The facility also will offer space for established firms as well as developing technology-based businesses that have a collaborative relationship with an academic or research unit of the university.

Each of the businesses housed in the facility will equip and furnish the space it occupies. A committee comprising representatives from NU and business and industry advisers will evaluate and prioritize potential users.

The Suzanne and Walter Scott Foundation is constructing the facility. The land was purchased by the NU Foundation and given to the university. The building is scheduled for completion in December 2001.

G’Day, Mates

Nebraska’s cold autumn weather didn’t dampen the spirits of two Australians who came to talk to engineers about implementing the Nebraska Inverted Tee bridge design in their country.

Ross Speers, principal of Tierney & Partners Ltd., and Tim Egger, project manager in the construction firm of LFC Contracting Pty. Ltd., left Sydney’s warm spring weather to travel to Omaha and Lincoln in early December.

Hosted by Maher Tadros and his colleagues, Speers and Egger met with personnel from the Nebraska Department of Roads, Kirkham Michael, Concrete Industries, Wilson Concrete and other firms.

One of the highlights was a meeting with NDOR Director James Craig and Materials and Research Engineer Moe Jamshidi, where discussion focused on the Olympics, contracting techniques and Nebraska’s reputation as an innovator in bridge design. A serious discussion was also held on the life of Paul Hogan from a steel bridge painter to a famous Hollywood personality.

The Aussies are under contract to design and construct nine Inverted Tee bridges in rural areas of Australia. They returned to the land Down Under with a lot of information and fond memories of Nebraska hospitality.

Bits -n- Bytes

• Ram Narayanan was elected Fellow in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He was recognized for his contributions to the development of coherent ultra-wideband random noise radar systems for high resolution imaging applications.

• John Reid was selected as one of 15 outstanding young educators in the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award program.

• Engineering Extension, in cooperation with Southeast Community College and the City of Lincoln, provided training on Web page development for 40 city and county departments. The training has reduced the number of technology requests made to the city’s Information Services Department.

Major Grant Awards

• Michael Meagher, “Fermentation and Purification Development and Manufacture of a Recombinant Protein from Pichia Pastoris,” Pepgen Corp., $420,420.

• Ronald Faller, John Reid, John Rohde, Dean Sicking, “Development of an Energy Absorbing Cushion Wall-Phase 2,” Indy Racing League, $253,454.

• William Weins, John Makinson, Richard Arnold, “Development of Improved Product Performance Through Optimization and Modeling of Engineering Materials, Processing and Function,” Brenco, Inc., $195,527.

• Michael Meagher, “Integration of Photonic Processing in Random Noise Radar Imaging,” Pepgen Corp., $124,000.

College Dedicates Student Resource Center

Luke Schreier, Patty Hecher and Roger Severin pose with the plaque that was given to Olsson Associates. The consulting firm helped fund the renovation of the student area in Nebraska Hall that includes a computer room and a study area.

Laura Simon

IE Grad Wins Entrepreneurship Competition

Like most other seniors, Laura Simon was assigned a senior design project. The May 2000 industrial and management systems engineering graduate, along with partner Rachel Marienau, was assigned to work on a project at Colby Ridge.

“Colby Ridge had launched an Internet site and was expecting to double their orders. Basically they wanted to double production without increasing their cost by a lot.” Simon said.

The two spent time at the plant, interviewed management and then came back with a presentation.

“They put together a very detailed work flow layout for us,” said Donn Steinbach, president of the company. The company implemented nearly all the suggested changes with positive results, Steinbach said. “Productivity has increased and things flow a lot better.”

Their design earned them first place in the E-Week departmental competition.

In February, Simon entered the project in the Productivity Improvement Competition sponsored by the Nebraska Center for Entrepreneurship. The Colby Ridge project took first place and earned Simon $2,000.

“I was very happy because it proves that industrial engineers can do more than just pure technical things,” Simon said. “And I think it meant the most because I was up against business people.”

Simon expects to earn a master’s degree in industrial engineering in August. Her thesis focuses on the performance of student teams in engineering education, because, she said, “everyone says engineering students can’t work together” and she’s not sure they’re right.

— Constance Walter

Comings and Goings

  • Florin Bobaru joined the faculty of the Dept. of Engineering Mechanics in January. He holds a doctorate in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from Cornell University.
  • Ron Haggin has been appointed interim chair of the Construction Systems Technology Department.
  • Sandor Bisztray-Balku from the Technical University of Budapest is lecturing in mechanical engineering through June. His visit is sponsored by the Fulbright Scholar Program.

Students Create Future Cities at National Engineers Week Competitions

A team of eighth-grade students from Omaha’s St. Wenceslaus Catholic School took fifth place at the National Engineers Week Future City Competition in Washington, D.C.

The team’s entry, “Gorvda Gorol,” also won the first-place people’s choice award at the student competition to design a future city. The entry featured domed living spaces and a winter sports recreation area.

The contest requires middle school students to create a future city on computer and in 3-D models. Students also must respond to an essay question and give an oral presentation on their project. The St. Wenceslaus team competed nationally after taking first place at an area regional competition held in January.

Members of this year’s team are Daniel Moylan, Robert Bowen, Mark Holmberg and Mitchell West. The team is coached by teacher Mary Stanton. David Meier from HDR Engineering is the engineering mentor.

Norris Junior High School placed second in the regional competition, and King Science Center won third place. A total of 23 schools statewide, from Omaha to Chadron, entered the regional competition.

For more information, contact Kirby Woods, Future City Regional Coordinator, at (402) 533-6550, e-mail <kdwoods@oppd.com>.