Engineering at Nebraska, Spring 2009
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From the Dean Front and Center Features Whole lotta shakin' goin' on NSF Career award aids Schubert's research Self-aligning carbon nanotubes: key to next-generation devices? E-Week Excites Best of both worlds Accomplishments Class Notes Alumni profiles After hours credits Donate Send Us News Archives blank
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Kevin Huddleston remembers his roots, and extends them. Huddleston plans to finish his master's degree in architectural engineering in December 2009 and while studying in The Durham School, he grows his leadership skills as vice president in UNO's student government. As an undergraduate, Huddleston served as a student senator as well as recruitment director, vicepresident and president of his fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha. In his current role with UNO student government, Huddleston helps appoint student leaders and backs up the student regent.

Ruqiang Feng, associate professor of engineering mechanics, was named a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. ASME Fellow status recognizes an individual's significant engineering achievements and contributions to the engineering profession.

Computer science and engineering junior Tim Echtenkamp of Cairo, Neb., is on a UNL team that surpassed 200 other teams of collegiate programmers in an IBM-sponsored regional competition by the Association for Computing Machinery. The Nebraskans advanced to the April 2009 World Finals in Stockholm, Sweden. All four UNL teams scored in the top 25 regionally in late 2008 and UNL teams have advanced to the World Finals in seven of the past 11 years.

Anuj Sharma, assistant professor of civil engineering, received the 2008 Milton Pikarsky Award for Outstanding Ph.D. Dissertation in Science and Technology. The award is conferred by the Council of University Transportation Centers, a national organization that promotes dialogue among its member institutions and provides a forum to interact collectively with government and industry. Sharma was honored for his doctoral thesis on integrated behavioral and economic framework for improving dilemma zone protection systems. He collected and analyzed a large set of real-time data (over 80,000 data points per day) from a signalized intersection to evaluate the performance of existing signal control logic. He developed and demonstrated methodology for searching optimal green-light thresholds to maximize driver satisfaction and driver safety at isolated high speed intersections.

P. Frazer Williams, UNL's Lott Distinguished Professor Emeritus with the Department of Electrical Engineering, is one of 360 journal reviewers receiving the American Physical Society's Outstanding Referee designation, a lifetime honor, in 2009. The APS has 47,000 physicist members worldwide.

AE student Steve Gollehon attended the Illuminating Engineering Society's annual conference, November 2009 in Savannah, Ga., and wrote about the experience for IES' Lighting Design and Application magazine. Gollehon reported on the student orientation's welcome with IES past presidents and attended sessions on circadian efficacy (the intended subject of his graduate work), as well as light pollution and exterior lighting with LEDs.

Mustafa "Cenk" Gursoy, assistant professor of electrical engineering, received "The 2004- 2007 Journal of Wireless Communications and Networking Best Paper Award" from the European Association for Signal Processing (EURASIP), founded in 1978. The award will be presented during the 17th EUSIPCO Conference in August 2009 in Glasgow, Scotland. Gursoy co-wrote the award-winning paper, "On-Off Frequency-Shift Keying for Wideband Fading Channels," published in 2006 with H. Vincent Poor and Sergio VerdĂș.

Architectural engineering students Cassandra Wiese and Zhao Xinzhi were selected as recipients of Graduate Student $10,000 Grants-In-Aid from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers. ASHRAE also chose AE student Dakota Kelley to receive its Henry Adams Scholarship for the 2009-10 academic year in the amount of $3,000.

Tim WentzTimothy G. Wentz, associate professor of construction management, received the Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor from the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, Inc. (MCAA). He "has played a major role in planning all of MCAA's student chapter summits and competitions," said MCAA President Jack Wilhelmi, who leads The Waldinger Corporation in Omaha. Wentz was a founding member and chair of the Mechanical- Electrical Academic Consortium, and served on the Board of Trustees of the Mechanical Contracting Education and Research Foundation. MCAA has also named Wentz Educator of the Year three times. He is a registered professional engineer, a licensed master plumber and contractor, and a LEED Accredited Professional. He is a recognized authority on green and sustainable construction practices and is also a fellow of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers. With the faculty of The Durham School, Wentz has been awarded numerous honors for teaching, advising and mentoring.

Song Ci, assistant professor, computer electronics and engineering, was recently appointed as Associated Editor of IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology, a journal in the field of mobile systems and wireless networks. In addition, Ci has been invited to deliver a spotlight talk at the NSF Workshop on the Science of Power Management, regarding his current NSF-funded research on battery-driven computing; and he has just coauthored a book with Haohong Wang, Lisimachos Kondi, and Ajay Luthra, entitled 4G Wireless Communications (John Wiley & Sons).

The College of Engineering is pleased to announce the following faculty who received tenure or promotions in 2008-09:

Promotion to associate professor and tenure
  • Song Ci, Computer and Electronics Engineering
  • Erick Jones, Industrial and Management Systems Engineering Promotion to Full Professor
  • Bruce Dvorak, Civil Engineering
  • Ashok Samal, Computer Science and Engineering


K.P. Rajurkar, professor of industrial and management systems engineering, was recognized by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers with the SME Gold Medal for his prolific contributions to technical communications through published literature, technical writings or lectures.

James D. Goedert, associate professor of construction systems engineering, was named a Fellow member of the National Society of Professional Engineers. NSPE has more than 45,000 licensed engineer members in 500-plus chapters in 53 states and territories; fewer than 500 of these members are Fellows. Goedert has been active in the Nebraska Society of Professional Engineers (NeSPE) and the NeSPE Eastern Chapter (Omaha area). In 2008, he was elected NSPE's Professional Engineer in Construction (PEC) Chairman; he has also been elected State Director of NeSPE in 2005-06 and was president of the NeSPE Eastern Chapter (Omaha area) in 2007-08.

New UNL Research Development Fellows include engineering faculty Four Nebraska Engineering faculty members are among the 12 inaugural Research Development Fellows Program, a UNL initiative to help pretenure faculty successfully compete for grants.

The Office of Research program, starting in 2009, provides practical information and experience pre-tenure faculty need to successfully compete for grants. The year-long opportunity helps fellows enhance their proposal development skills and prepare a complete proposal for submission.

The program's three main components are mentoring, learning sessions and consultations. Each participant is paired with a senior faculty mentor who has a strong track record of securing grants. Formal and informal learning sessions will help fellows plan and write effective grant proposals, build budgets and understand the proposal review process.

Individualized consultations with Office of Research staff will provide advice and expertise as fellows develop grant proposals. The Office of Research will provide an external consultant to review final proposals and will sponsor travel for fellows to visit federal program officers in Washington, D.C.

"Enabling cutting edge research by obtaining external funding is essential to faculty success. This program is designed to give our early career faculty a real leg up in this competitive area," said Kim Espy, UNL's associate vice chancellor for research, who leads the initiative.

Fellows from the College of Engineering and their senior faculty mentors are:

Xu Li, assistant professor, civil engineering, and Steven Comfort, professor, School of Natural Resources; Shadi Othman, assistant professor, biological systems engineering, and Joseph Turner, professor, engineering mechanics; Wei Qiao, assistant professor, and Jerry Hudgins, professor, electrical engineering; and Anuj Sharma, assistant professor, and Laurence Rilett, professor, civil engineering.

Durham School presents workshop integrating industry and education
April 2009 marked the first "Workshop to Integrate Industry into the Educational Setting" at The Durham School, with approximately 80 students and industry leaders participating. Mahmoud "Moe" Alahmad, assistant professor of architectural engineering, coordinated the event and plans to annually implement the workshop series. The purpose is to gather Durham School students, apprentice students, industry and faculty to work together in several topic areas. Apprentice students from Omaha Joint Electrical Apprenticeship and Training Center attended several sessions, and Durham students attended all sessions. This year's event drew industry representatives from DLR, the Electric Company of Omaha, HDR, Alvine Engineering, Leo A Daly, Miller Electric, Tier 4 Data Center Group, Cornhusker Energy, and leaders from local schools and the University of Kansas.

NAHBNAHB honors Nebraska Engineering
At the January 2009 International Builders' Show in Las Vegas, sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders, Nebraska Engineering's NAHB Student Chapter won third place in the Outstanding Student Chapter competition. UNL surpassed 175 other student chapters in the nation, according to Chuck Berryman, Ph.D., associate professor and program coordinator for UNL's Construction Management studies.

Zach NelsonZach Nelson, an Elkhorn senior majoring in construction engineering, won NAHB's prestigious Outstanding Student Award. Nelson is president of Nebraska Engineering's student chapter.


Civil engineering associate chair and associate professor Bruce Dvorak was one of three engineers selected by the Environmental Water Resources Institute to receive the 2009 Samuel Arnold Greeley Award. Dvorak was honored for his April 2008 paper, "Relative Impact on GAC Usage Rates of Operating Strategies for Treatment of Contaminated Groundwater," cited for its originality by EWRI's award committee.

Nebraska Engineering grad students earn Woollam Fellowships
Winners of the 2009 J.A. Woollam Graduate Fellowships are: Jonathan Hein, engineering mechanics; and Chad Kamler, Bahar Laderian and Craig Zulke, electrical engineering. Woollam Fellowships are funded through the generosity of John A. Woollam, the George Holmes Distinguished Professor in the UNL Department of Electrical Engineering. Woollam also founded Lincoln's J.A. Woollam Company, which specializes in spectroscopic ellipsometry. Nebraska Engineering professors nominate outstanding students for the Woollam Fellowship. This year's recipients gain $3,000 for UNL tuition in the coming academic year.

Terri Norton, assistant professor of construction systems, was named the 2009 NSBE National Alumni Extension Mentor of the Year at the recent National Society of Black Engineers conference. Norton and seven Nebraska Engineering students in The Durham School attended the conference, which also included other university representatives and more than 300 high school students from across the nation. Norton met with numerous prospective students and also co-presented (with her sister, Terita Norton) a workshop called "Freshman 101: License to Excel." The workshop provided information concerning making a smooth transition to college.

Allan Wickard, a UNL senior from Bridgeport, Neb., who majors in mechanical engineering, received a Citizen Meritorious Conduct Award in November 2008 from Chief Thomas K. Casady of the Lincoln Police Department and Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler. A presentation cited Wickard's "selfless acts" during an incident last spring.

In the early hours of April 13, 2008, Wickard was driving by a convenience store near East Campus when shots were fired in the store's parking lot with a crowd surrounding a fight. The first LPD officer on the scene faced resistance from the parties involved. Wickard stopped to assist the officer and, although the officer advised him to stay back and keep safe, Wickard ultimately served as "a very reliable witness," according to the police report. The documentation also noted that "(Wickard's) mere presence helped keep the hostile crowd at bay while the officer took the suspect into custody."

"I would want somebody to do the same for me if I were in that position," Wickard said.