University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of EngineeringOnline: Summer 2011
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Durham School student team wins 2011 ASHRAE competition

Students in UNL’s Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction won first place in the HVAC System Design category of the 2011 Student Design Project Competition conducted by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. The Nebraska team’s submission, a 25-page technical report, surpassed seven other teams competing at the national level in this ASHRAE event. The 2011 project involved designing an HVAC system focusing on energy efficiency for The Drake Well Museum: a 20,000-square-foot facility in Titusville, Pa., where Edwin L. Drake drilled the world's first oil well in 1859 and launched the modern petroleum industry. Entries were required to determine heating and cooling loads, and demonstrate compliance with relevant ASHRAE Standards.

The DSAEC team—architectural engineering students Holly Brink, Gina Halbom, Michael Crabb, Andrew Gilliam, and James Dougherty—was advised by Nebraska Engineering professor emeritus Gren Yuill and mentored by Omaha-based Nebraska Engineering alumnus Joe Hazel with Farris Engineering and Dan Karnes with HDR Inc. The award includes a $2,000 prize for the team and a trip for one team representative to be recognized at ASHRAE’s winter meeting in Chicago in January 2012.

Matthew Wold pic

Matthew Wold, an agricultural engineering graduate student in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, was the first North American student to receive one of four International Helmut Claas scholarships. Presented by The CLAAS Foundation, this scholarship is based on the student’s merit and capacity to enact the foundation’s goal: “to make a contribution to education and knowledge in agriculture … to show the grand possibilities and perspectives of modern agricultural engineering.” Wold, from Thief River Falls, Minn., was flown to the world headquarters of Claas in Harsewinkel, Germany, last fall to present his research on an electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission he designed as an undergraduate student at North Dakota State University. He received third place for his work and a scholarship of 3,000 Euros from The CLAAS Foundation.

George Morcous, associate professor with UNL’s Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction, will lead a team working with a nearly $450,000 grant over three years from the National Cooperative Highway Research Program. The project pursues "Self-Consolidating Concrete for Cast-in-Place Bridge Components." Morcous’ team includes faculty from Northwestern University and Iowa State University. Morcous will also work with a $216,000 grant from the Innovative Bridge Research and Development program of the Federal Highway Administration for a new design of Lincoln’s 14th Street Bridge over Interstate 80. With I-80 widening to six lanes, this four-lane 1959 bridge will be replaced with a new bridge featuring innovative construction materials researched and developed by UNL for the Nebraska Department of Roads.

Timothy G. Wentz, P.E., associate professor with The Durham School, was installed as a vice president of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers at its 2011 Annual Conference, June 25-29 in Montreal. In this role, Wentz is a member of ASHRAE’s Board of Directors and executive committee, and serves as vice chair of its Publishing and Education Council.

A paper by Yang Gao, electrical engineering graduate student working with Yongfeng Lu’s Laser-Assisted Nano Engineering (LANE) Lab, was featured in the June 10 edition of Nanotechnology. The work is titled “Fast growth of branched nickel monosilicide nanowires by laser-assisted chemical vapor deposition.”

Hamid Vakilzadian, associate professor of electrical engineering, earned the 2011 Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Modeling & Simulation International. The award was announced at the Summer Simulation Multi-Conference (SummerSim) in The Hague, Netherlands in July. He has been active for many years with SCS and has been a dynamic leader for their modeling and simulation activities, including this conference.

David Swanson, director of UNL’s Research Computing Facility and a research associate professor with the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, is a principal investigator (with Evgeny Y. Tsymbal, professor of Physics and director of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, MRSEC) for the collaborative three-year, $6 million Track 2 NSF grant to study nanomaterials for advanced energy technologies with scientists in Puerto Rico. Nebraska EPSCoR reported UNL’s share of the award is $3.3 million, and noted, “The research will have two aims: a) to create and explore nanomaterials that could be used by the electronics industry to improve energy efficiency; and b) to develop nanocatalysts for energy applications that could help key chemical reactions, namely those used in hydrogen fuel cells. Upgraded cyberconnectivity between the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Omaha, and the Puerto Rican Institute of Functional Nanomaterials (IFN) will enable the creation of an advanced web portal to facilitate project collaborations. A consortium of computational scientists from Nebraska and Puerto Rico will use the web portal to develop an open source code library for research on nanomaterials. The increased capacity created by this advanced computational environment will allow the consortium to bring the maximum talent to bear on the problems of energy efficiency.”


Christopher Lohmeier received the 2011 Brian L. Halla-National Semiconductor Fellowship. Lohmeier, a native of Pleasant Dale, Neb., is a graduate student studying with the Department of Electrical Engineering’s Wei Qiao. The fellowship was established by National Semiconductor Corporation in honor of Nebraska Engineering alumnus Brian L. Halla, former executive chairman of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company and its chief executive officer for 14 years before retiring from that position in 2009. Halla has maintained close ties to the college, having served on the Advisory Board and as keynote speaker at E-Week 2010.

A paper by Wenbo He, assistant professor of electrical engineering, and her team (including Fan Zhang, Xue Liu and Patrick Bridges) received first place in the Best Paper Award of the Fourth ACM Conference on Wireless Network Security (ACM WiSec '11). The paper was titled "Inferring Users' Online Activities Through Traffic Analysis"; the event's acceptance rate for long papers is roughly 11.5 percent.

Curt Weller, professor of Biological Systems Engineering, was chosen to be a Jefferson Science Fellow. The program places several experienced and tenured research-active scientists and engineers with the U.S. Department of State, in roles to advise and educate leaders regarding aspects of policy issues. Weller has a background to address food and water security issues, while he lives and works in Washington, D.C., for one year.

At the Institute of Industrial Engineers’ annual awards, two UNL students majoring in industrial and management systems engineering earned honors: Linday Stoll won the Lisa Zaken Award for Excellence, and Andrea Henery won the A.O. Putnam Memorial Scholarship.

Matthew Dwyer picMatthew Dwyer, Henson Professor of Software Engineering in UNL's Department of Computer Science and Engineering, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to perform research at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. Dwyer will study the application of mathematical analysis techniques developed to detect software errors to problems in ecological modeling.

UNL architectural engineering students Abby Breuer and Jordan Webb won first place, and Yulia Tyukhova and Roger Sandhoefner earned Honorable Mention, in 2011's prestigious Howard Brandston Awards, conferred by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES). Durham School students also won the competition in 2010 and 2009.

Electrical engineering faculty Mathias Schubert, Ming Han, Natale “Ned” Ianno, Yongfeng Lu and Eva Franke Schubert are part of the planned Nebraska Center for Nanohybrid Functional Materials, focusing on the interface between analytical/bioanalytical chemistry and nanomaterials. According to Nebraska EPSCoR’s annual report, the project was funded by a $20 million RII Track 1 Award from the National Science Foundation. Fred Choobineh, Nebraska EPSCoR director and professor with the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, said the award is “the largest research grant ever awarded in the state and includes support for 27 researchers at five Nebraska colleges and universities conducting transdisciplinary work in the fields of algal biology as well as nanohybrid materials."

Greg Bashford, associate professor of Biological Systems Engineering, is collaborating with Michael Furtaw of LICOR to improve early disease detection. Funded by a Nebraska EPSCoR R&D Partnership Award, they are investigating a method that uses a microfluidic device, a technology popularized by the inkjet printer, to add metallic nanoparticles to samples that have fluorescent-labeled biomarkers. Metallic nanoparticles amplify the signals from the fluorescent labels, reducing the concentrations at which the biomarkers can be detected. According to EPSCoR, this increased detection sensitivity could lead to earlier disease detection and treatment.

Matthew Dwyer picDavid Jones, professor of Biological Systems Engineering, was named the college's associate dean for Undergraduate Programs – Lincoln by Dean Tim Wei. Wei said Jones is an outstanding teacher who “has a strong reputation across campus as an individual who is passionate and committed to high quality undergraduate education.” Wei also cited Jones’ leadership roles in innovative engineering education and outreach activities, and his experience as an engineering accreditation reviewer, as valuable qualifications for the position. Jones has led UNL’s Strengthening Transitions to Engineering Programs (S.T.E.P.), funded by the National Science Foundation: working with community colleges to enhance pathways for students transferring to Nebraska Engineering. Jones begins the job with the 2011-12 academic year, succeeding Ray Moore who retired. Jones earned his Ph.D. in Agricultural Engineering from Oklahoma State University – Stillwater, and his M.S. and B.S. in Agricultural Engineering are from Texas A&M University.

Li and Lau earn FIRST awards from Nebraska EPSCoR

Nebraska EPSCoR announced 2011 FIRST Award recipients in the program to help early career faculty initiate their research programs and compete more effectively for NSF CAREER grants. This year’s honorees include: Yusong Li, Civil Engineering, and Siu-Kit Lau, The Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction. Previous Nebraska Engineering winners included Jinsong Huang, Mechanical Engineering; Shadi Othman, Biological Systems Engineering; and Yaoqing “Lamar” Yang, Computer & Electronics Engineering (2010); Ming Han and Senem Velipasalar, Electrical Engineering (2009); Angela Pannier, Biological Systems Engineering (2008); and Chunsheng Liu, Computer & Electronics Engineering (2007). Approximately six FIRST Award grants are awarded per year at $20,000 each with a one-for-one match. An assistant professor in a tenure-leading position at any Nebraska college or university is eligible to submit a pre-proposal.


NASA EPSCoR projects advance space and software research

Natale “Ned” Ianno, professor of electrical engineering, and Matthew Dwyer, Henson Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, are pursuing research to advance our nation’s space program. NASA EPSCoR funded Ianno for advanced instrumentation and student support in his work on thin film contaminant deposition and characterization. When sunlight fuses thin layers of contaminants over satellite solar cells through photochemical deposition, the cells darken and reduce the energy conversion efficiency, which leads to premature satellite malfunctions. Ianno’s research programs determine the optical properties and growth characteristics of these nano-scale thin films of contaminant polymers. Ianno’s facility is among a very few capable of directly measuring the optical constants of these contaminant polymers; results can be incorporated into the design and lifetime analysis of satellites. Building on success achieved from the NASA EPSCoR project, Ianno has forged research partnerships with companies including Eikos Inc., Ball Aerospace and Technology Corp., Northrup Grumman, and the Aerospace Corporation.

Matthew Dwyer’s NASA EPSCoR project focuses on developing an analytical tool for NASA to evaluate future changes in its software. The project is based on the premise that useful software systems remain in operation for a very long time and undergo changes during their lifetimes. Bugs are fixed, performance enhancements are made, and new features are added in response to user needs. Dwyer’s project leverages information about how the software has changed to calculate the influence that those changes would have on the behavior of the software. During the course of the research, Dwyer and his team have made a number of important conceptual and technical advances. Dwyer’s work was the first to introduce the concept of a “differential” program analysis that compares the operation of two programs or program versions. Work in these areas led Dwyer’s team to become experts in a research area that was an integral part of a proposal funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). This new $4 million grant covers a wide range of topics, but two key elements--reasoning about system evolution and performing analysis using constraint solving techniques--are directly attributable to work performed in his NASA EPSCoR project.


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