Renewing the Future

Renewing the Future
Nevada Engineering
We pursue excellence
the Future
University of Nevada, Reno
A magazine from the College of Engineering • Winter 2010 • Vol. 2 No.1
Discover Nevada at
College of ng ideas into realit y
from the dean
A year of establishing vision,
working toward goals
Dear Friends,
On Feb. 13, 2009, following a national search, I accepted the great
responsibility and honor that comes with the position of Dean of
the College of Engineering at the University
of Nevada, Reno. It has been almost two full
semesters since that time, and I am still quite
humbled by my position. The work that the
students, staff and faculty accomplish on a
daily basis in our college is simply astounding. I am truly heartened, as well, by the
support alumni, friends and partners in our
community consistently show the College of
We have needed this strong sense of esprit
de corps. We continue to live in extraordinarily complex and sometimes confounding times as the state and
country continue to pull themselves from recessionary economic
times. Our University has absorbed an unprecedented number of
budget reductions over the past 18 months. None of the colleges
on our campus have been immune from these budget reductions,
including the College of Engineering. However, with the help of our
faculty, staff, students, alumni, advisory board, colleagues across
the campus and the University’s central leadership, the College of
Engineering has preserved its strategic positions and is looking with
optimism and enthusiasm toward the future.
In fact, difficult times have helped us clarify what we hope to accomplish in the not-so-distant future. Working cooperatively with all
of the departmental, faculty, student, staff and professional advisory
leaders of our college, we have formulated several key goals as we
view our future critically, strategically, and opportunistically.
Our vision revolves around the central goal that over the next five
years to 10 years, we hope to reach measurable national recognition
– ranking among the top 100 engineering schools in the country –
and, as well, to increase the number of programs and activities with
international recognition.
To turn these words into reality, the College of Engineering has
first to achieve the following goals:
n Position ourselves as a leading college for the growth and devel-
opment of the University of Nevada, Reno and the educational
system of the State of Nevada;
n Become a state and regional leader of engineering education;
n Become an important factor for the State of Nevada’s economic
We have identified four major objectives that go hand-in-hand with
the achievement of our underlying vision. They are:
n Develop state-of-the-art educational programs that serve the
needs of the state and nation and prepare our students to become
national and world leaders in their fields;
n Enhance the quantity and quality of our undergraduate and graduate students, with particular emphasis on increasing the numbers
of top quality doctoral students;
n Increase the number of nationally and internationally recognized
research programs by developing carefully designed, realistic and
focused efforts, considering the strengths of our faculty and our
resources, and by pursuing multidisciplinary and multi-institutional efforts;
n Develop outreach programs serving the needs of the state and the
nation by capitalizing on our educational and research strengths.
This is certainly an ambitious agenda for the next five years. As
you will note as you read the pages of this publication, however, our
faculty, students and staff are dedicated, have high morale and are
working hard to achieve these goals.
A prime example of one of the strategic focus areas we are currently involved in is Renewable Energy. Some of our efforts and
accomplishments in this area are featured in this issue of the College
magazine. The University is making a concerted effort to become
a national leader on this front, and I am pleased to report that the
College of Engineering is one of the prime engines in this effort. As
you will discover, the Center for Renewable Energy is a product of
my belief that we can all achieve great things if we all work together,
focused on a common goal.
It is a way of doing business and pursuing excellence that I see each
and every day in our College and University.
Manos Maragakis
Dean, College of Engineering
With an unprecedented effort to marshal the University’s many scientific
and teaching resources, renewable energy is poised to move to the front
of the campus’ research portfolio.
By Mike Wolterbeek and John Trent
Nevada has all of the resources — sun,
wind, geothermal, biomass — to become
one of the nation’s leaders in renewable
But before the state’s great natural resource gifts can be realized, however, someone must take the lead in organizing this
vast array of natural resource riches.
The University of Nevada, Reno, is
quickly filling this leadership role with a
number of initiatives that promise to transform not only the economy of the state of
Nevada but to revitalize and revamp the
national economy with the creation of new
companies, new jobs and an entirely new
emphasis on renewable energy and a muchneeded investment in the rebuilding of the
nation’s infrastructure.
Recently, the University formalized its
renewable energy research efforts in a new
collaborative, the Renewable Energy Center, that will focus efforts and coordinate
programs for competitive research with
plans to increase Nevada’s national stature
in the renewable energy field.
“The University is a leader in renewable
energy research education in Nevada, and
through this collaborative we can work to
make Nevada a powerhouse in renewable
energy in the entire country,” Professor Mano Misra, the director of the new
Center, said.
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
“We have research on hydrogen fuels,
bio-diesel, wind power, plants to biofuel,
geothermal, and the many subcategories
and components of these types of renewable power, and our work is not just be for
the sake of research,” Misra said. “We will
continue to work to bring together education and industry to develop these systems
here in Nevada, boosting the economy
with jobs as well as sales of products and
The University has conducted renewable energy research for more than 10
years, including geothermal, biomass,
hydrogen energy and solar. The University
has pioneered new curriculum with its
Renewable Energy Minor that began in
2007. The collaboration primarily focuses
on the work of four colleges within the
university: Agriculture, Biotechnology and
Natural Resources; Business; Engineering;
and Science.
The activities of the collaborative will be
overlooked by a council of the deans of the
four colleges: Greg Mosier, Business; Manos Maragakis, Engineering; Ron Pardini,
interim dean, CABNR; and Jeff Thompson,
Coordinators for the five working groups
in the collaborative are: Kwang Kim,
hydrogen energy and storage; John Cushman, biomass; Lisa Shevenell, geothermal;
Ravi Subramanian, solar energy; Mehdi
Etezadi, power grid; and Ted Batchman,
Coordinating business, public policy,
outreach and education for the collaborative is Ron Tibben-Lembke, a professor of
supply chain management in the College of
Business who has a master’s and doctorate degrees in Industrial Engineering and
Management Science.
“We will be working together in a much
more coordinated manner,” said Misra,
“opening better lines of communication
and cooperation. This gives us even more
efficiency and effectiveness to go after
grants and ensure we have complementary
projects working together.”
He said the new Renewable Energy Center will encourage the independent voice
of the researcher, department or college as
well as help them if a broader approach is
“It will help us become less competitive
among ourselves and more competitive in
the world with renewable energy,” he said.
The Business College is a part of the
collaborative to help build efforts to bring
the research to the community through the
building of new industry and workforce.
“Ultimately, we can become more
community-driven and can use our science
Continues on page 3
Jeff Ceccarelli, NVEnergy corporate vice president
(center in brown jacket), gathers with members of
the Renewable Energy Center.
to help our community,” Provost Marc
Johnson said. “We want to make the University easier to work with for industry and
the business community. We want to train
students for the increasingly technological workforce and build our capacity for
research at the same time.”
While the majority of research activities
are housed at the main campus, the Redfield Campus off the Mt. Rose Highway in
south Reno provides unique opportunities
to be a test-bed area for big-scale renewable
energy research, and may accommodate research projects which are typically housed
at the main campus.
“This new collaborative is more a ‘center’
of people, than a place,” Maragakis said.
“This brings together a coordination
with equal participation. It helps us to let
each other know of opportunities for the
University, if we should go as a group after
grants or funding, or as an individual proposal. With the collaborative we can build
on our past successes in this arena.”
“We can make an important contribution to the economy of the state,” Maragakis said. The collaborative will work with
DRI and UNLV to make Nevada a leader in
the renewable energy industry.
Misra said an early task for the renewable energy collaborative is building a
one-stop renewable energy web presence
so grant-giving agencies, students, faculty
and the public can find information fast. A
national-scale renewable energy conference
is being organized for the fall.
The Renewable Energy Center is a
collaborative that fits well with Provost
Johnson’s vision for entrepreneurial, community-driven research at the University of
Nevada, Reno.
“The complementary expertise among
these four colleges is an ideal example for
how we can coordinate research efforts,
and not just for renewable energy,” Johnson
He presented a strategic plan for research
and graduate education at the University
in April at the Center for Advanced Studies
spring meeting. One aspect of the plan is to
tie the extensive University research in all
disciplines to the community, business and
The University has had several successes
in providing research and development of
new products and technologies to industry through patent agreements and other
avenues that have had economic benefit to
“What is important to remember is that
for many areas of the country, these ideas
are in their infancy or have many years of
creating a solid research foundation before
they are ever even realized,” Maragakis
said. “At Nevada, we are unique in that we
have already started much of this work.
All of these things are happening on our
campus, right now — this is not only in research and development, but in education,
with a number of new majors and minors
that the University offers in these highly
strategic areas.”
All Misra has to do to reinforce this
point is to simply look out the window of
his office in the Laxalt Mineral Engineering
Building on the University campus.
Northern Nevada’s uncommonly sunny
skies are easy to see.
“Talk about the perfect natural resource,” Misra, one the campus’ most gifted
researchers, says. “The sun is almost always
Due to recent advances in low-power
portable electronics and the fact that
batteries provide a finite amount of
power, attention has focused on innovative methods to harvest or scavenge
energy from the environment for
practical applications. Energy can be
recovered from mechanical vibration,
light, and temperature variations. Dr.
Leang in the UNR Mechanical Engineering Department and his colleague
Dr. Mossi at Virginia Commonwealth
University are exploring the potential
of thin-film pyroelectric materials,
such as lead zirconate titanate and lead
scandium tantalite, for converting
temperature changes in the environment into usable amounts of power for
small portable electronics and sensors.
Their recent findings have shown
that ample amounts of power can be
generated with heating rates as low as
ten degrees per one second. The team
plans to use their energy harvesting
devices to replace standard batteries in
wireless sensor networks for monitoring the structural health of bridges,
roadways, and even aerospace systems
and components.
Continues on page 4
The complementary expertise among these four colleges is an
ideal example of how we can coordinate research efforts, and
not just for renewable energy.
– Marc Johnson, provost.
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
ME professor takes energy
harvesting to new level
A photograph of a thin-film lead
zirconate titanate material bonded
to a small electric heating element
for evaluation. The heating element
heats the pyroelectric material and the
generated power can either be used
directly or stored for later use.
Micro-porous coatings enhance boiling heat transfer
A most important source of irreversibility of any thermal process is heat transfer
across a finite temperature difference.
This is especially true for high flux applications such as boiling and evaporation.
Porous metallic coatings are known to
improve boiling performance because the
pores provide a high area-density of vaporbubble nucleation sites; and, the media
can have a very high specific surface area.
Richard Wirtz, Foundation Professor
Emeritus in the Mechanical Engineering
Department, and his Boiling Research
Group (Bharath Ganja, Paul Laca, Sean
Richard Wirtz, Foundation Professor Emeritus in Mechanical Engineering, center, and
Penley and Zenghui Zhao) are developing
his Boiling Research Group are developing structured micro-porous coatings, consisting of
structured micro-porous coatings, consist- laminations of very fine-filament metallic weaves.
ing of laminations of very fine-filament
in plant efficiency. Very high performance electronic systems
metallic weaves, that show promise of
(microprocessors, radar systems, directed energy devices) are
achieving the target: 5 MW/m2 with a 10 K superheat (surface
projected to dissipate in excess of 500 W/cm2 (5 MW/m2). The
temperature relative to boiling point). So far they have demonBoiling Research Group’s structured micro-porous coatings,
strated heat flux in excess of 2.7 MW/m2 @ 10 K superheat.
boiling either a refrigerant or water at sub-atmospheric pressure,
This technology has many areas of application. For example,
show promise of effectively cooling these systems.
existing geothermal power plants achieve only about 30% of their
The Boiling Research Group’s work is supported by the Deideal efficiency. Improving the efficiency of the reboiler/evaporapartment of Energy, Intel Corporation and the Office of Naval
tor of the power cycle, by reducing the operating superheat at
fixed heat load, would contribute to a significant improvement
shining in northern Nevada.”
Misra, working with a $3 million
research grant from the U.S. Department
of Energy, has found a groundbreaking,
highly effective way of harnessing photoactive material from the sun to generate
hydrogen. The catalytic process produces
inexpensive hydrogen from geothermal
water and takes advantage of a plentiful
northern Nevada resource. Misra’s renewable energy research portfolio is extensive,
with more than $10 million in funding for
various renewable projects.
Hydrogen, one of the cleanest forms of
energy, is more efficient than liquid fuels,
and could hold one of the keys to Nevada’s
future in becoming a national leader in
renewable energy.
Misra envisions a day in the not-so-
distant future when Nevada — with more
than 300 days of sunny weather per year
— will become the perfect hub to generate
hydrogen energy, producing low-cost, noimpact fuel for automobiles and energy for
homes and businesses.
“We can utilize this great energy
resource from the sun to our advantage to
produce hydrogen,” Misra says. “We are
uniquely positioned in Nevada because
of this. Given the weather in northern
Nevada, where on most days we have 10
to 15 percent more sunlight than in other
areas of the country, the future of this type
of energy is limitless.”
Misra’s work is just one of many examples of cutting-edge research and education being conducted on the campus of the
University of Nevada.
Nevada’s expertise stretches to many
areas, including:
Nevada researchers in the College of Engineering, led by Amy Childress, professor
and chair of the Department of Civil and
Environmental Engineering, have created
novel methods using osmosis and forward
osmosis to treat wastewater for potable reuse or for power regeneration. The method
not only reduces the footprint of current
power regimes, it could also revolutionize
how large municipalities in the country
effectively optimize their use of water as a
power source.
The Center for Civil Engineering Earthquake Research is home to some of the nation’s most important large-scale structures
laboratory and a unique world-renowned
earthquake simulation facility. Using the
College of Engineering
largest earthquake shake tables in the
nation, numerous earthquake simulations
on the bi-axial shake tables have helped
improve the design and structural stability
of large-scale structures throughout the
country. The structures group, led by Ian
Buckle, is already leading infrastructure
and earthquake mitigation research across
the nation. Their efforts are complemented
by a cadre of talented seismology scientists
in the College of Science that specializes in
the study of earthquakes.
Misra, of the Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering Department, has developed a novel process — believed to be the
first of its kind in the country — to extract
biodiesel from spent coffee grounds. The
process has important implications in the
world’s efforts to combat global warming through the creation of alternative
fuels such as biodiesel while utilizing an
inexpensive waste product. Misra’s work
on coffee biodiesel has received world-wide
attention. Misra and his group are working
on a novel process to convert carbon dioxide to gasoline. In the not-so-distant future
Misra envisions a day where the United
States will run cars with fuels from carbon
The Western Regional Superpave Center,
under the direction of Peter Sabaaly of
the Civil and Environmental Engineering
Department, is one of the nation’s leaders
in promoting the implementation of pavement and asphalt technologies. Researchers
have evaluated the tolerance of different
Creating the next generation
of hydrogen compressor
A research team led by Kwang Kim, professor and chairperson of the Department of
Mechanical Engineering, is developing a
“thermally driven metal hydride hydrogen
compressor.” The hydrogen is often generated using electrolysis. Once the hydrogen is
generated, it needs to be stored and pressurized to increase the energy density to allow
for economical transportation and use. The
traditional gas compressors used to raise the
pressure of hydrogen gases are expensive.
Moreover, the energy required for compression
is significant. The conversion from thermal to
potential energy is accomplished through the
manipulation of a metal hydride bed, which
absorbs hydrogen with an exothermic response Professor Kwang Kim’s work is focused
and desorbs hydrogen gas at a high pressure
on developing a thermally driven metal
with an endothermic reaction. The low-grade
hydride hydrogen compressor, which is
shown here.
“waste” heat or low temperature geothermal
sources can be used to compress hydrogen. The
research team is developing a working prototype which can produce 5,000 psi compressed hydrogen gas through the manipulation of a unique metal hydride bed, called
porous metal hydride (PMH) compact.
Additional applications of the technology include thermomechanical artificial
muscles, environmentally friendly heat pumps and hydrogen storages.
paving materials for roads in areas that
are prone to extremes in temperature, and
provide high-tech, low-cost solutions to
paving projects throughout the state and
the nation.
Kwang Kim, professor and chair of the
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
has pioneered heat transfer enhancement
techniques in condensers for use in geothermal power plants, as well as thermal
compression of hydrogen utilizing geothermal energy. Kim’s research is helping close
the gap between the possibility and the
reality of making geothermal energy less
costly and more viable for the nation.
At the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy, led by Lisa Shevenell, Nevada
researchers are collecting and synthesizing
key data through GIS technology in an
effort to produce favorability maps of the
state’s geothermal potential.
At the Redfield Renewable Energy Center on the University’s Redfield Campus,
classrooms and research space are being
utilized in teaching undergraduate and
graduate students about renewable energy
through the University’s new renewable
energy minor.
Researchers in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources
are at the forefront in the next key evolution in biofuels and their use in Nevada. In
the laboratory of John Cushman, professor
of biochemistry, microalgae has been developed for biodiesel feedstock, as a sequester
of carbon dioxide from coal and gas-fired
power plants, and as a way to produce biomass, which can be used for heating pellets.
In addition to these projects, Nevada
researchers continue to work closely with
the faculty of its Nevada System of Higher
Education partners, the Desert Research
Institute (DRI), and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). DRI has national
and worldwide expertise in such key areas
as hydrology, atmospheric science and
renewable energy. Of particular note, DRI’s
Renewable Energy Center has ongoing
projects focused on wind energy, hydrogen
application and bioenergy.
“These are the tips of the iceberg,”
Continues on page 6
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
Maragakis said. “It’s not just the College of
Engineering … or the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources
… or the College of Science … or the
College of Business. It really is the whole
University uniting in this effort.”
Taken together, the work is creating a
critical mass of knowledge in the energy
and infrastructure economies of the nation
that could give the state a strategic edge in
the competition for jobs and businesses.
Lawrence Lieberman, a former Dean
of Admissions for the Stanford Business
School and a member of the Advisory
Board for the College of Engineering, said
he believes that the University’s “core competencies” in these areas can create “unfair
advantages” for the institution.
They are “unfair advantages” that could
catapult University to the forefront of a new
“The state desperately needs to diversify its economic base, and we have the
potential to be a leader in renewable energy,
and in rebuilding our nation’s bridges
and roads,” he said. “There is such great
stuff that is going on at the University. The
University has extraordinary expertise and
in some areas has core competencies that
few other areas in the country can claim.
The focus of the research and development
efforts are directly in line with what President Obama is trying to accomplish with
the stimulus plan.
“Right now there seems to be a real increase in demand for expertise, and this in
turn can create more jobs — white-collar,
clean jobs that basically bring money back
into our state.”
Misra, who has spent a distinguished
career spanning more than 25 years in
developing alternative fuel source technologies, said it’s an exciting time to be a
researcher at the University.
“We can lead the nation,” he said. “People often say, ‘Why Nevada?’ Well, ‘why not
Nevada.’ The timing to become the nation’s
leader in finding alternative ways of fueling
our cars or heating our homes or powering
our computers has never been any better
than right now.”
Research team produces sustainable
freshwater using membrane distillation
College of Engineering researchers
in the Department of
Civil and Environmental Engineering
are collaborating with
researchers in the Department of Geological
Sciences and Engineering to investigate the
use of solar ponds as
a renewable energy
source for treatment of
water using membrane
The use of solar ponds as a renewable energy source for
distillation. This comtreatment of water using membrane distillation is a groundbined system represents
breaking effort led by Amy Childress, professor of Civil
a decentralized, standEngineering, Scott Tyler, professor of Geological Sciences, and
alone unit capable of
student Francisco Suarez, shown here.
collecting and storing
use of low-grade or waste heat sources.
solar energy as well
One method for providing a renewas purifying water. The team includes
able, sustainable source of heat for the
Amy Childress, professor of Civil and
membrane distillation system is a salinity
Environmental Engineering, Scott Tyler,
gradient solar pond. A salinity gradient
professor of Geological Sciences, and
solar pond is a saline water body which
student Francisco Suarez.
is heated by absorption of solar radiation
The exponential population growth
and which can provide long-term therand increase in standard of living are
mal storage and recovery for collected
inherently tied to an increase in water
energy. The solar radiation that penand energy use. Using fossil fuels to meet
etrates the pond’s upper layers reaches
this massive need for water and energy is
the pond’s lower layers and heats a highly
not sustainable due to the negative enviconcentrated brine. This results in temronmental impacts of combustion and its
peratures greater than 90 ºC, which may
effect on climate change. Current desalithen be used directly for heating, thermal
nation systems are unlikely to be able to
desalination, or for other low-temperaproduce freshwater in a sustainable way
ture thermal applications.
unless they use renewable energy sources
This research investigates the coupling
instead of carbon-emitting fuels.
of the salinity gradient solar pond with
In membrane distillation, warmer feed
the membrane distillation system for
solution is in contact with one side of a
sustainable production of freshwater. The
microporous, hydrophobic membrane
major advantage of this system is that reand colder water is in direct contact with
newable energy is used so that little to no
the opposite side of the membrane. Temelectrical energy is required. This system
perature differences of 20 °C or less result
may be a promising solution to decrease
in the transport of pure water through
salinity in terminal lakes or to treat conthe membrane. Such low temperature
centrate from membrane processes.
differences can be achieved through the
College of Engineering
Faculty using algae to clean up water, produce biofuels
Researchers in the Department of Civil
and Environmental Engineering (CEE) are
collaborating with scientists in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Natural Resources (CABNR) to
study the potential of using algae to produce
a valuable biofuel while simultaneously
treating wastewater. Undergraduate Civil
Engineering student Kim Rafter worked
this summer with CEE Associate Professor
Eric Marchand and Biochemistry Professor
John Cushman on a research project funded
by the Office of Undergraduate Research to
identify whether nutrient-rich water from a
regional wastewater treatment plant could
be used to grow algae that could later be
processed for biofuel. Results of the project
verified that algae could be grown using
wastewater as the source of nutrients and
the researchers found that high yields of
algae were possible using wastewater as the
nutrient source.
While algae in river or lake systems are
typically viewed by environmental engineers
and scientists as a sure sign of pollution,
certain types of microalgae can produce
oils as they grow. Once the algae are grown
to a high concentration, these oils can be
extracted, processed, and refined for use as
transportation fuel. Algal based biofuels
are expected to play an increased role in
the future of renewable energy for several
reasons: (1) algae have a relatively fast growth
rate compared to crop-based fuel sources; (2)
they can be produced on non-arable land using non-potable or low quality water sources;
(3) they can be harvested daily throughout
the season; (4) they require much lower land
requirements than most other crops; and (5)
they do not displace food crops and adversely
affect the food market.
One of the main limitations for using algae as a biofuel source is the large amount of
nutrients that are required to grow the algae
(for every 100 pounds of algae produced,
about 6 pounds of nitrogen and 1 pound of
phosphorus are required). In most cases,
this would require a large amount of fertil-
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty have partnered with Biochemistry faculty to study
the potential of using algae to produce biofuels.
One of the clear byproducts of strong
collaboration across disciplines is the sharing
of information and learning, which benefits
all departments and colleges involved with
the biofuels effort.
izer to be added to water to support algal
growth. However, the nutrients required to
grow algae are plentiful in domestic wastewater and many municipalities – including
those in the Truckee Meadows – spend a lot
of money to remove these from the water.
The largest wastewater treatment plant in the
Reno-Sparks area is the Truckee Meadows
Water Reclamation Facility (TMWRF),
which treats about 25-30 million gallons
per day. TMWRF has an internal, nutrientrich liquid stream called centrate which the
plant produces about 250,000 gallon per day.
Nitrogen and phosphorus in the centrate
may be an ideal source of nutrients for algal
growth and the researchers studied how well
centrate works compared to fertilizer for
growing algae. Using centrate as a nutrient
source on an “algae farm” could save the
treatment plant money since it would lower
the amount of waste treated. According
to 2008 audit data for the plant, utilizing
centrate as a nutrient source for algae growth
would save the treatment facility about
$7,300/day. Over the course of a year, this
savings would equal approximately $2.7 million for the treatment plant. Thus, the ability
to use this nitrogen- and phosphorus-rich
stream as a feed stock to support an algal
biofuel processing facility would constitute
significant community savings without even
considering the biofuel component.
In light of the favorable results to date,
research is continuing to identify if there is
an optimum amount of centrate to use and
how the oil content of the algae varies under
different treatment conditions. If successful,
this line of research can result in the beneficial use of wastewater in energy production.
Furthermore, nitrogen and phosphorus are
two of the primary water pollutants regulated in the treatment plant effluent and being
able to reuse centrate for algae would have
the added benefit of decreasing nutrients in
the effluent that flows into the Truckee River
and eventually into Pyramid Lake.
Electrical and Biomedical Engineering helps create a
smarter electric power grid
Have you ever worried about not having electricity to turn on appliances or cook
at home after a day of work? Do you worry about spoiled food in the refrigerator or
freezer due to lack of electrical power?
out contingency studies to figure
out what switching sequences are
needed to restore power in case
of an outage due to events such as
equipment failure, weather and accidents. Also, we often forget that
the type of electric energy that we
use cannot be stored and generators must stand by to provide what
we need as soon as we ask for it.
Unfortunately, the actual electric
Dr. Mehdi Etezadi-Amoli, professor of Electrical and
grid is a much more complicated
Biomedical Engineering, is the coordinator of the
large-scale system that is reaching
Smart Grid Cluster at the University’s Renewable
its upper capacity limit. Economic,
Energy Center.
political and environmental rules
systems for bringing the generated power to
and regulations at the state and
the load center. To sustain reliable operation
national levels influence and control the
of the system, we also need new infrastrucaddition of major electric utility equipment.
tures and smarter control paradigms. In
Due to the limits of the current infrastrucaddition, the recent proliferation of renewture, we have recently been pushing the
able energy applications is only sustainable
use of renewable energy. Fortunately, our
through incorporation of advanced techcountry receives abundant solar energy and
nologies which will increase the efficiency
is referred to as the “Saudi
of systems monitoring and control.
Arabia” of wind. This
The term “smart grid” evolved from the
means that solar and wind
proposed Electrical Power Research Instigenerators run on free
tute’s “Intelligrid” of the early 2000s. Smart
fuel and air pollution will
grid means different things to different
not increase due to these
people. The power engineering communew “green” generators.
nity tends to classify smart grid applicaFurthermore, the use of
tions into three subtopics of transmission,
electric vehicles could
distribution and electrical machines/power
reduce our $700 billion
electronic systems, and strives to make the
per year dependence on
operation, monitoring and control of each
foreign oil.
“smarter” than it is now.
The major obstacle for
The power transmission system, which
the development of reFigure 1. The essential functions of an electrical power grid
is the backbone of the entire electrical
newable energy resources
(courtesy of DOE).
system, is a large-scale interconnected
is the lack of transmission
The fact is, we have a reliable electrical
power system in this country; this allows us
the luxury of using huge amounts of electric
power each day to run our computers and
household appliances. The energy control
centers at electric utility companies are
manned by three groups of operators on
a continuous basis to manage the operation and delivery of this power. Running
these control centers is similar to flying an
airplane: the exact state of the system at
any given time must be known for smooth
operation. These control centers have access to the major equipment of the system
through a two-way communication scheme
for remote monitoring and control. For
example, the operators can increase or decrease a generator output, change the power
flow over a transmission line, change the
tap setting on a transformer, or drop a load
under an abnormal operating condition.
The planning engineers constantly carry
College of Engineering
Comparison of today’s grid and the smart grid (courtesy of DOE).
Figure 2. A simple power system
(courtesy of
network spanning Mexico,
the United States and
Canada. This network
is governed by regional
transmission organizations
and independent system
operators and also involves
electrical energy wholesale
markets. Under the smart
grid umbrella, advanced
technologies are currently
being researched and
applied for faster and better
monitoring and control of
Figure 3. The components of a smart grid (courtesy of DOE).
the large interconnections,
as well as reliable
smarter metering technologies for efficient
integration of large-scale —
integration of distributed small-scale — tens
hundreds of megawatts — renewable power
of kilowatts to hundreds of kilowatts —
renewable power generation applications,
Power distribution systems can be
fair pricing mechanisms and remote
considered as pockets in the transmission
monitoring and control of electrical power
system serving industrial, governmental
and residential customers. These are
Smart grid applications for electrical
governed by local utilities. Smart grid
machinery consist of smarter interfacing
applications in distribution systems include
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
and control schemes for
electrical machines by
using advanced power
electronics circuits and
microelectronics. The
increased integration of
large- and small-scale
wind farms require
research on advanced
energy conversion,
monitoring, and control
units as well as invention
of new efficient storage
systems that compensate
for the intermittency of
photovoltaic and wind
The 2009 American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act stimulus bill allocates
$4.4 billion toward the development of the
smart grid.
This provides a great opportunity in all
three abovementioned aspects of smart
grid enhancement and renewable energy
research and development.
Raw power comes clean
NSF, NREL and private industry partner for Clean Energy with EBME
Electrical and Biomedical Engineering
(EBME) Professor Andy Trzynadlowski,
a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and
Electronic Engineers and an expert in power
electronics, has long enjoyed steady support
of the National Science Foundation (NSF),
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
(NREL), and private industry in the area of
clean energy.
Back in 1999, Andy received NSF funding
for an international collaborative project
“Control Techniques for EnvironmentalFriendly and Energy-Efficient Power
Electronic Converters,” carried out with the
Warsaw University of Technology in Poland.
Power electronic converters constitute an
indispensable part of renewable energy
systems based on solar, wind, and small hydro power sources. They condition the raw
power generated by these sources to transfer
it to the electrical grid or to off-grid users.
The objective of the project was to increase
the efficiency and power factor of pulsewidth modulated rectifiers. The power factor
is a measure of utilization of the electric
power entering a given system. Traditional
rectifiers, based on silicon controlled rectifiers, semi-controlled and slow electronic
power switches, have poor power factor and
they pollute the electrical grid with parasitic
current harmonics. Technological advances
in the area of fast, fully-controlled switches,
such as insulated gate bipolar transistors
allow construction of rectifiers whose
operational flexibility results in dramatic
improvements of the power factor, efficiency,
and reduction of current harmonics.
In 2002, the National Renewable Energy
Laboratory (NREL) granted Andy $230K
for development of a high-performance
generator for wind turbines. In this socalled switched-flux machine, the magnetic
flux is produced by high-energy permanents
Team of researchers from EBME and Mariah Power with the tested generator.
Rotor of the generator for wind turbines with
144 permanent magnets.
magnets. The prototype, with a 144-magnet
rotor, does not require a gearbox between
the generator and the turbine as it produces
high-frequency output voltage at low speeds.
A US patent on the generator is pending. In
2005, within the scope of the project, a local
start-up company Mariah Power (MP) had
their generator tested in EBME’s Electric
Drives Laboratory. Today, Mariah Power is
an established and fast growing player in the
renewable energy market.
In 2006, Andy received a $240,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for
the project “Communication Enhancement
in Power Electronic Systems Using Spectral Nulls”. The fixed-frequency switching
operation of the existing power electronic
converters generates bothersome acoustic
and electromagnetic noise (see Figure 1). The
three-year project was aimed at devising such
a method of pulse width modulation so that
noiseless communication channels can be
carved in the spectra of voltage and current
transmitted from the source to the load. Generation of the so-called spectral nulls (dips),
allows using the power cables as medium
for information transfer. For example, if the
College of Engineering
Experimental setup for testing electric machines.
source is a small wind turbine supplying
a farm, the cables, in addition to the load
current, can carry information about the
wind speed and produces power to be stored
in a computer in the farmhouse. Other applications, especially smart grid and electric
systems of airplanes, spacecraft, submarines,
or hybrid cars, can also benefit from spectral
nulls in the noise and elimination of separate
communication conduits. In April 2009,
Andy’s postdoctoral associate in the project,
Cristian Lascu, was hired as an assistant
professor in the EBME Department.
In 2008, Andy and a Louisiana State
University professor, Ernest Mendrela,
won a $300,000 collaborative NSF grant for
“High-Efficiency Gearless Power Conver-
The EV1 electric car by General Motors.
sion Systems with Silent Permanent-Magnet
Machines.” The study is an extension of the
NREL project, but the investigated power
conversion systems can also be employed in
small hydroelectric plants and a variety of
electric and hybrid vehicles.
Recently, Andy was notified by the NSF
that his collaborative $400,000 proposal
“Investigation of Fundamental Aerodynamic and Power Electronic Issues of Rooftop
Wind Panel Systems” has been funded. This
collaboration will involve Hamid Rahai of
California State University, Long Beach and
Radian Belu of the Desert Research Institute.
The project will be devoted to novel windenergy devices for residential applications.
As exemplified by his NSF grants, Andy is
Figure 1. Electromagnetic
noise spectrum with spectral
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
a firm believer in collaboration with other
institutions. He was a visiting professor at
the renowned Institute of Energy Technology in Aalborg, Denmark, a pioneer of
modern wind energy systems, and at the
University of Padua in Italy (where Copernicus had been a student and Galileo
a professor). He was also a Summer Faculty Fellow at the Naval Surface Warfare
Center in Annapolis, Maryland, working
on a power system for an electric frigate.
The editor of the second edition of Andy’s
book “Introduction to Modern Power
Electronics” (John Wiley) has insisted that
an additional chapter, devoted to applications of power electronics in clean energy
systems, be added.
NSF and NREL have not been the only
supporters of clean energy research in the
EBME Department. In 2001-02, Andy was
involved in the electric car program at the
General Motors Advanced Technology
Center (GMATC) in Torrance, Calif. (see
photo above left). Two projects funded by
GMATC dealt with a next generation of
the EV1 car (see photo above right). Regrettably, in a controversial decision, GM
terminated the EV1 program in late 2003.
The scale of the described projects
shows that the EBME Department has
established a firm foothold in the national
clean energy research scene.
Indira Chatterjee
A classroom standout moves into administration
By John Trent
Say the name Indira Chatterjee to many
of the students in the College of Engineering, and more than likely the response will
be a smile, a recognition of a supremely
talented teacher who has influenced many
In a 21-year career as a professor of
electrical and biomedical engineering at the
University of Nevada, Reno, few have earned
a reputation like Chatterjee’s. In 1995, she
was recipient of the F. Donald Tibbitts
University Distinguished Teacher Award
– the campus’ most prestigious teaching
honor. She was given the Silver Compass
Award for Extraordinary Commitment to
Students in 2005. And, she has been selected
and honored as faculty mentor by the Senior
Scholar in the College of Engineering on
three different occasions.
Given her sterling record, it might have
been a bit of a surprise that Chatterjee, at
least for the next few years, will be leaving
the classroom to become the College of
Engineering’s associate dean.
“I won’t be teaching at all,” Chatterjee
said recently in her third-floor office in the
Scrugham Engineering and Mines Building.
“I think I will miss that. I’ve promised my
students, though, that I will get them someone good (to teach her classes).”
College of Engineering Dean Manos
Maragakis firmly believes that the classroom’s loss will be the college’s gain with
Chatterjee’s move.
“Indira is truly a remarkable person,
certainly one of our most gifted teachers,
but also extremely well-rounded,” Maragakis said. “She has so many talents that go
beyond the classroom. She is well-suited for
this position, which will be one of the more
critical pieces for our college going forward.”
Chatterjee’s responsibilities are numerous. She will be involved with overseeing
the “three A’s” of the college’s operations:
advising, assessment and accreditation.
In addition, she will also play a role in
recruiting. She will also head a college-wide
initiative to foster research collaboration
within the college in an effort to land major
federal research grants, and will work with
partnering research institutions such as the
Desert Research Institute to fortify future
collaborative efforts, and will work to help
forge new partnerships with private industry, both locally and regionally.
Chatterjee, who admits that she enjoys
the “people” aspect of being a professor and
dealing with students and other professors,
said she is looking forward to her new role.
“I do like working with people,” she said.
“And for the most part, I have good relationships with our faculty. In fact, one of my
goals is to get to know the faculty members
in our college that I don’t know well. Everything these days is about teamwork. You
can’t just work in isolation.”
Chatterjee said she hopes to capitalize
on many of the college’s alumni who are
already working in private industry as a
bridge in furthering the offering of the
college’s expertise and talent to the business
“We have a number of former students
who are working at many of the companies, both large and small, here in town,
so those are contacts that could prove to
be beneficial,” she said. She smiled as she
remembered another student-focused aspect
of her former position that could be of help
in her new position. “I’ve been the internship coordinator for electrical engineering
for all these years, so that should be a help.
Even with that background, just over the
past few days, there are one or two companies that have been around for a while that
have surfaced (as a possible college partner).
Everything takes time, and (forming relationships) can take months at a time. If we
can give these companies confidence that we
have excellent students, faculty and facilities,
then we have a good place to start.”
One of Chatterjee’s primary areas of focus
will be the fledgling Renewable Energy
Center. The Center will focus efforts and coordinate programs for competitive research
with plans to increase Nevada’s national
stature in the renewable energy field. It will
be overlooked by a council of the deans
from the Colleges of Business, Engineering,
Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural
Resources, and Science. The director is a
person that Chatterjee knows relatively well
– her husband, Manoranjan Misra, a professor of chemical and metallurgical engineering who has long been considered on the
I have good relationships with our faculty. In fact, one of my goals is to get to know the faculty
members in our college that I don’t know well. Everything these days is about teamwork.
You can’t just work in isolation.
College of Engineering
College of Engineering Advisory Board committed to excellence
By Sara Lafrance
Many years ago, Vince Lombardi
observed, “Individual commitment
to a group effort is what makes a team
work, a company work, a society work, a
civilization work.”
And it is this same level of individual
commitment that makes the College of
Engineering Advisory Board work so well
too. Comprised of prominent members
of business, industry, government, and
academia, some of whom are alumni as
well, this group provides the College with
advice and perspective on engineering
issues; acts as a liaison between the College
and other organizations and institutions;
and serves as advocates for the College
in promoting its academic programs,
achievements, and recruiting activities.
More recently, these volunteer members
reorganized their committee stucture to
better address College needs. What they
campus’ most gifted researchers.
“I’m hoping the center will become selfsufficient in the sense that we get it started
and we get people working together to get
grants and establish its reputation,” Chatterjee said. “It’s an initiative that is representative not only of the many renewable
resources we have in Nevada, but what can
hopefully be accomplished on a national
scale. I don’t know if it can depend on state
funding alone. That’s why it’s important
that the researchers, the colleges and the
institutions involved must work together to
make it work.”
Drawing on her instincts as one of the
campus’ best classroom teachers, Chatterjee
said another important goal is to reinforce
the wonder of engineering and renewables
for future University students. She is currently developing ideas to help renewable
efforts such as solar energy, or wind energy,
come alive for young minds.
“It’s always a good thing to have the public interact with things like wind or solar,
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
are now working on is impressive:
The Academic Excellence and
Assessment Committee focuses on the
skills and readiness of graduating students
as determined by their employers as well
as evaluates current and new programs
that the College of Engineering may
consider undertaking. The committee also
provides support and recommendtions to
the Dean in developing and maintaining
the assessment of programs for ABET
(Accreditation Board for Engineering and
Technology) accreditation.
The Communications Committee
addresses greater public awareness for
the College. It was instrumental in its
recent website redesign and is currently
developing a public lecture series on topics
of general interest and relevence.
The Corporate Partners Committee
establishes mutually beneficial
relationshps with companies, especially
where kids can push buttons and say, ‘Oh
wow, so this is what happens when you talk
about renewable energy,’” she said.
Chatterjee said she has enjoyed working
with Maragakis.
“The dean has been very open to suggestions and he asks my opinion,” she said. She
has been impressed by Maragakis’ seeming
never-ending source of energy. “He’s got a
lot of energy, he really does,” she said of the
Maragakis, a former successful chair of the
Department of Civil and Environmental
Engineering. “I’ve enjoyed watching him in
action. I can see why he has been so successful. I’ve seen him interact with people – he’s
very good at encouraging people to come to
him with ideas.”
Of course, Chatterjee isn’t bad on interaction herself. She hopes that if anything, her
new post will simply be a continuation of
what she has done best for more than 20
years at the University.
“Whatever I take on,” she said, “I like to
make it a success.”
in renewable energy and other prioritized
and selected fields. Its goal is to utilize the
research expertise and technology within
the College of Eningeering in ways that
will help it obtain additional research
funding and investment; enable teaching
of the relevant technology components,
and contribute to the College’s strategic
goal of achieving national recogniton.
Although the College of Engineering
Advisory Board meets only three times a
year, Committee activities are ongoing.
Each has a chairperson who coordinates
the group’s activites and ensures progress.
There is ongoing interaction with the
Dean, as well as the faculty, and continual
communication between committee
It is a strong board that works, one that
Vince Lombardi would assuredly describe
as “committed!”
College of Engineering
University of Nevada, Reno / Mail Stop 0256
Reno, NV 89557 | Phone (775) 784-6937
Fax (775) 784-1390 | [email protected]
Sally Casas
Theresa Danna-Douglas
Jean Dixon
Claudia Ortega-Lukas
Sara Lafrance
Jodi Tenenbaum
John Trent
Mike Wolterbeek
No state funds were used to support this publication.
This issue of the “College of Engineering Magazine”
was jointly funded by Dale (Metallurgical Engineering
’67) and Lala Placey, an alumnus and friend of the
College and by Granite Construction, Inc., a long-time
corporate friend of the College of Engineering (COEN).
The faculty, staff, and students are grateful for their
appreciation of excellence and their generosity.
College of ng ideas into realit y
Faculty explores alternative energy projects
The faculty of the Departments of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering have received
recent research funding in a number of areas of alternate energy, namely hydrogen separation, fuels for fuel cells, and
nuclear materials.
Amorphous Alloy Membranes Prepared by
Melt-Spin methods for Long-Term Use in Hydrogen Separation Applications – Dhanesh
Chandra, $975,000, DOE
Hydrogen production via coal gasification using catalytic membrane reactors
is becoming increasingly important. The
synthesis gas (syngas) must first be cleaned
to remove impurity species via the watergas-shift (WGS reaction, CO + H2O = CO2
+ H2). This is a multi-step process there
has a large number of unit operations, and
the conventional route incurs a significant
thermal (and thus efficiency) penalty due
to the overall heat loss. However, hydrogen
production from coal is becoming increasingly important in the United States for
environmental reasons, namely to minimize
carbon footprint. In a newly developed
CMR process, one can extract H2 from CO2
and H2 mixtures using hydrogen separation
membranes. Current hydrogen separation
technologies involve ceramic ion-transport,
microporous carbon membranes that have
much greater thermal stability, and can
be operated at temperatures applicable to
a one-step simplified approach. Metallic
alloys, such as that of Pt//Pd, have shown
considerable success but they are expensive.
In this work non-precious amorphous metal
membranes that are compatible with syngas
produced from coal gasification will be
used. These have several advantages compared to the crystalline counterpart as they
have greater permeability, and can be produced in bulk ribbon forms using standard
melt spinning technology. Various Ni-based
amorphous alloy ribbons will be developed,
where the solubility of hydrogen will be
monitored, and will check to see if Sievert’s
law is followed. The research will involve: (1)
volumetric hydrogen adsorption/absorption
measurements on these ribbons, (2) differential scanning calorimetry, (3) in-situ x-ray
diffraction by using
synchrotron measurements to determine
pair distribution
(interference) functions, using Fourier
transform, and (4) ribbon characterization.
Standard hydrogen
diffusion methodology, described in the
proposal, will be used.
Supramolecular Exchange Membranes for
Proton Compact Fuel Cells - Alan Fuchs, Cahit Evrensel, and Faramarz Gordaninejad,
$600,000, DOD EPSCoR
Alan Fuchs of the Chemical and Materials Engineering Department is the PI
of this three-year project and is working
closely with Cahit Evrensel and Faramarz
Gordaninejad in Mechanical Engineering.
The group has been working together for
nearly three years on fuel cell technologies.
The work was Initially part of an NSF STTR,
but the project was later funded by DOE
as well. The earlier work demonstrated the
capability of synthesizing nanostructured
materials for proton exchange membranes.
Fuchs’ group in Chemical Engineering synthesizes new polymeric materials
and membranes and characterizes them.
Gordaninejad’s group develops fuel cell
devices for measuring the performance of
these membranes, and Evrensel’s group
models the performance of the fuel cell devices. The DOE project was focused on the
development of novel, composite fuel cell
membranes and devices. These membranes
incorporate inorganic proton conductors,
known as heteropolyacids (HPAs), which
allows high temperature performance. The
new DOD EPSCoR project will provide
an opportunity for development of novel
polymer membranes known as polyquinoxalines. These polymers will be used to
synthesize nanostructured membranes and
HPA surface coated materials. These new
materials and devices are being designed
for ease of scalability, which will facilitate
technology transfer to companies that wish
to commercialize the new technologies.
Developing Thermal Conversion Options for
Biorefinery Residues – Charles Coronella
College of Engineering
chemical and metallurgical engineering
and Victor Vasquez, $100,000 (total award
$488,000), DOE
This technology is being developed
in partnership with the Gas Technology
Institute (Chicago) and the Desert Research
Institute (Reno).. The overall objective of
this project is to study and demonstrate the
viability of thermal pretreatment options for
processing lignocellulosic residue and waste
biomass streams, particularly those characteristically produced in the state of Nevada
and others, such as rice hulls, to produce
uniform feedstocks for themo-chemical
conversion into syngas or stable bio-oil, and
carbon byproducts. Two main approaches
are being explored including wet and dry
torrefaction methods. This process is capable
of converting diverse lignocellulosic biomass
feedstocks into an energy-dense homogeneous solid, a pretreatment for subsequent
thermochemical conversion. In the wet process, biomass is treated in hot compressed
water, resulting in three products, including
gases, aqueous chemicals, and a solid fuel.
On the other hand, dry torrefaction,
sometimes called low-temperature pyrolysis,
is a process in which the biomass is heated
in an inert gas environment at temperatures
ranging from 200o to 300 ˚C. The torrefaction reaction has two products, a solid and a
gas. Both torrefaction processes exhibit some
common features. The solid product has a
higher energy density relative to the starting biomass feedstock in both cases. Both
solid products are easily friable, and have an
aroma similar to wood char.
Infrastructure Support for Solid State Welding of Structural Materials for Advanced
Nuclear Reactors – Manoranjan Misra,
$289,000, DOE
The Department of Chemical and
Metallurgical Engineering has developed a
dedicated facility, the Center for Materials
Reliability, to enhance a nuclear materials
research program. It is involved in developing novel solutions for materials-related
issues with particular emphasis on materials
for the Nuclear Waste Repository (Yucca
Mountain Project) and other high temperature applications. For the design and efficient
operation of next generation nuclear reac-
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
‘They’re at it again’
Researchers continue to be at forefront of renewables
Over the past few months, researchers
in the Chemical and Materials Engineering Department received rave reviews in
the media for their work. Here are some
samples of the coverage, and the work
behind the stories:
“Those researchers in the Department
of Chemical and Materials Engineering
at the University of Nevada in Reno are at
it again. Last year they showed the world
that it was possible to make biodiesel
fuel from coffee grounds. This time, it’s
chicken feathers.”
– The New York Times (July 27, 2009).
The goal of this research is to seek alternative sources for biodiesel production
— as we put it, “food for hunger, waste
for fuel.” This time it has been shown that
the feather meal which is used for animal
feed and fertilizer can provide millions
of gallons of biodiesel. The total amount
of chicken feather meal generated by the
poultry industry is 11 billion pounds per
year (which can yield 153 million gallons
of biodiesel in the U.S. and 593 million
gallons worldwide).
Coffee biodiesel research “touches on
two of Americans’ great obsessions —
coffee and cars…” – The New York Times
(Dec. 16, 2008).
Producing fuel from spent coffee
grounds is an attractive option compared
to conventional food sources such as
corn and soybean which tend to drive
up commodity prices and reduce the
available food supply. World coffee
production is estimated to hit 18.3 billion
tors, it is imperative to develop the technological and scientific knowledge and training
pertaining to welding of advanced nuclear
materials. This is the first of two years of
funding of this project.
Solid state welding processes are well
suited for such applications, especially for
pounds in 2009, up from roughly 16.3
billion pounds in 2006 according to a
December 2008 USDA commodities
report. Current coffee consumption can
add approximately 340 million gallons of
biodiesel to the world’s fuel supply. The
production of biodiesel using a simple
extraction and transesterification process
is simple and inexpensive.
The total market value of biodiesel
from coffee waste and chicken feather
meal is $1 billion per year.
The undergraduate and graduate students who work on the projects have received recognition and several awards for
their work on these “renewable energy”
projects. Last year Jason Strull and Rao
Kondamudi received First Prize in the
Lt. Governor’s Cup competition, and this
year the same group received the Nevada
Commission on Economic Development
(NCED) Award. The NCED Award was
given for their work on the production
of value added cosmetics and medical
application of coffee oil.
The Chemical and Materials Engineering faculty and students have
developed another project involving
the solar conversion of CO2 to clean
energy sources such as Dimethyl Ether.
Undergraduate students Palkin Zed and
York Smith received the 2009 Donald W.
Reynolds Governor’s Cup and Lt. Governor’s Award for the best energy-related
business plan called Carbon Gold. The
project involves production of gasoline
from CO2 using sunlight.
oxide dispersion strengthened (ODS) alloys
useful for Gen IV reactors. Since there are
no facilities in Nevada for solid state welding, the establishment of the infrastructure
for this facility will provide an important
component of nuclear metals research at
University of Nevada, Reno.
College of ng ideas into realit y
University’s NEES researchers receive
‘Outstanding Service’ Award
The University’s NEES (Network for
Earthquake Engineering Simulations)
received a prestigious award at the Seventh
Annual NEES Meeting held at Honolulu,
Hawaii in June for “Outstanding Service to
Researchers” for their exceptional support
of the PAKSBAB (Pakistan Straw Bale and
Appropriate Building) project. Darcey
Donovan, researcher, made the nomination
and a review committee made the award
The description of the award is as follows:
Outstanding Service to Researchers is
an award to a NEES Site in recognition
of research support services that greatly
exceeded expectations to ensure project
success. This can include facilitating data
acquisition/storage, and improving IT
capabilities, maintenance and calibration, or
safety at NEES Sites. NEES site nominations
can be made for service provided to
continuing research projects, but should
describe a phase or period of research that
has been completed. Description of the activity as given
by PAKSBAB: Pakistan Straw Bale and
Appropriate Building (PAKSBAB) recently
conducted a seismic research project at the
University of Nevada, Reno NEES facilities,
during which we conducted in-plane cyclic
tests of straw bale walls as well as shake
table tests of a full-scale 14 by 14 house. We
received great support and attention to detail
from the NEES University of Nevada, Reno
team. Sherif Elfass, in particular, went above
and beyond the call of duty to assist us. He
was generous in sharing his knowledge,
encouraging, and a pleasure to work with.
Involved from the beginning to the end of
the project, he ensured that all details were
The NEES team: Ian Buckle, Chad Lyttle, Sherif Elfass and Patrick LaPlace.
being considered and attended to.
Support included:
• Technical assistance regarding scope of
• Twice a week progress meetings, as well
as numerous additional meetings and
• Meetings with University experts to
discuss earthquake input motion and
white noise calibration
• Straw bale wall link design and fabrication
• Help with instrumentation plan and safety
frame design and installation
• Moving walls into lab, consultation and
assistance moving house into lab
• Creation of project page on
• Review and feedback regarding project
related correspondence
• Assistance with house demolition
• Presentation opportunities
As a result of the outstanding support
from Sherif and the NEES team, the
straw bale house earthquake simulations
were extremely successful and exceeded
everyone’s expectations. Due to the team’s
expertise and professionalism, we met or
exceeded our deadlines, and all phases of
the project proceeded smoothly. This is
especially noteworthy, considering it was
PAKSBAB’s introductory research project,
accomplished on a shoestring budget with
extensive volunteer assistance. We received
superb media exposure as a result of the
tests, ranging from local TV channels and
newspapers to the New York Times and New
Scientist Magazine. The Discovery Channel
Canada and BBC have also contacted us
regarding possible future stories.
PAKSBAB’s website experienced
83 percent new visits in March/April.
PAKSBAB’s building method has
tremendous potential to provide safe,
comfortable, and affordable housing to poor
families throughout the world. Our goal is
to train local partner organizations which
have the capacity to establish sustainable
straw bale building programs, with
PAKSBAB providing technical oversight as
We now have the necessary and
convincing engineering evidence that
our building system is structurally safe
and sound, essential to moving forward
and obtaining the approval and funding
necessary to expand the scope of our work.
Outstanding Service to Researchers is an award to a NEES Site in recognition of research support
services that greatly exceeded expectations to ensure project success. This can include facilitating data
acquisition/storage, and improving IT capabilities, maintenance and calibration, or safety at NEES Sites.
College of Engineering
civil and environmental engineering
Earthquake engineers make national, worldwide headlines
By John Trent
crete in the area around those metal
components with what is known
September has been a good news
as an ‘engineered cementitious
month for faculty members in the
composite.’ This is a substance that is
College of Engineering.
reinforced with short polymer fibres.
In the Sept. 10 issue of The
These give it flexibility, so it does not
Economist magazine, M. Saiid Saiidi,
crack as readily as ordinary cement.
professor of civil and environmental
The result should be a bridge that can
engineering, shared his findings
deform in an earthquake without
regarding keeping damaged bridges
snapping, but which returns, more
working. The Economist writes of
or less, to its original shape when the
Saiidi, “He proposes to make the
quake is over.”
parts most likely to fall out of a
The University’s expertise in earthsubstance called shape-memory alM. Saiid Saiidi, Professor of Civil and Environmental
quake engineering was also at the
loy, which can ‘remember’ what it is
Engineering, has made headlines with his research.
forefront of a Purdue University ansupposed to look like even after it has
nouncement on Sept. 10. Purdue’s $105
been twisted drastically out of kilter.”
million grant from the National Science Foundation will create a
The article goes on to explain that Saiidi “gained his crucial innew center for earthquake engineering that will manage 14 earthsight by jostling models of bridges on a specially built ‘shake table.’
quake engineering facilities and allow researchers to easily share
He found that, rather than failing simultaneously, bridge compodata and conduct experiments remotely. The University of Nevada,
nents tend to break in a predictable order, and that the failure of
Reno has long been one of the key partners in the George E. Brown
one triggers the failure of the next. So, he reasoned, if the pieces
Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), a
that break first can be protected, the rest should never fail.”
nationwide consortium that is helping researchers throughout the
Saiidi’s memory alloys are made of nickel-titanium and are very
country and the world design buildings, bridges and other strucelastic, and can handle much more distortion than steel compotures that are less susceptible to earthquake damage.
nents. The article says that Saiidi “… proposes to replace the con-
Cal Trans turns to Civil Engineering for Bay Bridge repair consultation
In late October, as anxious commuters
waited for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay
Bridge to reopen following the collapse of
two steel rods and a
crossbeam, the California Department
of Transportation
(Cal Trans) turned
to a Department of
Civil and Environmental Engineering
professor to serve
on a panel to review
and approve the department’s repairs on the
Depression-era bridge.
Ahmad Itani had conducted tests on
portions of the bridge at the College of Engi-
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
neering’s Large Scale Structures Laboratory
since 1996, and was a natural choice for the
consulting role.
“The problem was the eastern part of the
cantilevered span from Oakland to Yerba
Buena Island,” Itani said in an interview with
the Reno Gazette-Journal. “So we are familiar
with the bridge at UNR. It’s an old bridge,
built in 1936, and the ability of this structure
to withstand an earthquake is very low.”
Itani said the bridge’s age, along with the
sheer amount of volume of vehicle weight it
must withstand each day as one of the key
roadways leading into San Francisco, have
combined to bring the bridge closer to the
end of its lifespan.
“If I gave you a paper clip and told you to
break it, it would just bend back and forth,”
he explained to the Reno Gazette-Journal.
“So with age, it is only a matter of time,
which is why you replace a bridge after 70
Itani worked with other members of
the advisory panel throughout the Nevada
Day weekend before giving their approval
to re-open the bridge to Federal Highway
Administration officials.
Itani’s prior experience with the bridge
proved valuable as he spent hours in meetings as well as on the bridge itself.
“One time, I spent most of the night on
the bridge,” he said. “I tell you, it was really
cold up there at 4 p.m.
The bridge’s closure in late October was
its longest since the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, when it was closed for a month.
College of ng ideas into realit y
2009 a good year for CSE
Sergiu Dascalu was granted a sabbatical leave for the spring 2010
The year 2009 is shaping up to be a good year for the Department
of Computer Science and Engineering, its students and its faculty.
There were 27 students who graduated during the May 2009
Like every other unit on campus, the department is contracting
graduating ceremonies and joined the ranks of our alumni. Three
a bit to meet the challenges of the downturned economy and the
of them were doctoral students who received their Ph.D. in Comreductions in state support for the University in general. However,
puter Science and Engineering. We expect to have a total of seven
this is partially being offset by the increase in research productivity
Ph.D. students graduating from our department in 2009. In terms
and external funding that faculty have been able to garner. Indeed,
of students, the department’s graduate programs with more than 70
a record number of new proposals have been submitted to various
students continue to be the largest in the college of engineering. The
funding agencies during the first half of the year. Many are still
Senior Project-Open House presentations and poster sessions held
under review but several have already received funding and the
on May 1, 2009 were very successful and generated a lot of interest. In
associated research is underway. There are also a number of existing
addition to students and faculty there were more than a dozen guests
grants that are moving full steam ahead and producing good results.
who were impressed with many of the student projects. You can find
The total amount of competitively funded research awards for 2009 is
out more about senior projects and other type of student research by
expected to top $2 million, while the total externally funded research
expenditures for 2009 should be in excess of $1.5 million. This
Another very successresearch funding enabled
ful spring event was the
the department to recruit
Fifth UNR-IGT Spring
and hire Dr. Phillipa
Symposium which was
Avery as a post-doctoral
held at the Knowledge
fellow, and Dr. Anya
Center of the university.
Getman as a research
The Symposium featured
associate professor.
three invited keynote
The two new faculty
speakers and a very lively
members, Kostas Bekris
panel discussion on “The
and Mehmet Gunes,
at the University of Nevada, Reno
Convergence of Casino
hired a year ago, have
Gaming and Computer
The Department of Computer Science and Engineering is at
been energetic and busy
the forefront of the latest instruction and research in the field.
Games: Potentials and
teaching and setting up
Our commitment is to quality undergraduate teaching and
Barriers.” There were
their research programs
strong graduate research that help our students become
more than 120 people
and labs, recruiting
well-prepared, talented and indispensable computing and
that attended the symgraduate students and
engineering professionals.
research assistants. Their
As a new initiative
integration into the
dEgrEES offErEd
Ph.D. Computer Science and Engineering
B.S. Computer Science
student recruitment
department has been
M.S. Computer Science
B.S. Computer & Information Engineering
M.S. Computer Engineering
Minor in Digital Interactive Games
we designed a poster
smooth and they are now
faCulty rESEarCh arEaS
(left) that will be sent to
full participants in all
Microprocessors and Embedded
universities and colleges,
aspects of our academic
Monica Nikolescu, Kostas Bekris, Yaakov Varol Systems
Dwight Egbert
Artificial Intelligence
as well as high schools in
activities. Two other
Sushil Louis, Bobby Bryant, Kostas Bekris
Parallel and Distributed Computing
Fred Harris
Computer Games
Nevada and neighboring
junior faculty members,
Sushil Louis, Bobby Bryant, Eelke Folmer,
Pattern Recognition
Dwight Egbert
George Bebis, Mircea Nicolescu
states. We have also reMonica Nicolescu and
Computer Networks and Internet
designed our departmenStudies
Monica Nicolescu, Kostas Bekris
Mircea Nicolescu, have
Murat Yuksel, Mehmet Gunes
Software Engineering
tal website by giving it
been granted tenure and
Sergiu Dascalu, Eelke Folmer, Nancy LaTourrette
Computer Vision
George Bebis, Mircea Nicolescu
Wireless Communications
a completely new look,
promoted in rank from
Graphics and Visualization
Murat Yuksel, Mehmet Gunes
Fred Harris
more content, and easier
Assistant Professor to AsHuman-Computer Interaction
Eelke Folmer, Sergiu Dascalu
navigation and search for
sociate Professor. In other
information. Visit our
faculty related news,
Department of Computer Science & Engineering
University of Nevada, Reno /0171
Reno, NV 89557-0171
website at http://www.
Sushil Louis concluded
Phone (775) 784-6974 • Fax (775) 784-1877
his sabbatical leave while
Computer Science
& Engineering
College of Engineering
computer science and engineering
University plays key role in national consortium
to keep cyberspace safe from attacks
By John Trent
The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, provide a
grim and haunting reminder of what can
happen when the nation is caught unaware
by a terror group.
In 2009, the threat doesn’t seem quite so
dramatic. Or does it?
Lurking is a much more subtle, initially silent form of disruption – one that could come
via cyberspace – that could ultimately prove
even more debilitating for America.
Since the events of 9/11, the nation’s
Homeland Security leaders have worried
about the consequences of a cyber attack
from a nation-state or even a smaller group
of individuals. Such an attack could throw
an entire system of commerce based on
transactions made through the Internet into
complete disarray.
A national research consortium that
includes computer science and engineering
professors from the University of Nevada,
Reno, is at the forefront of an effort to eliminate much of the potential for cyberspace
Through a multi-million-dollar contract
with the Department of Homeland Security,
researchers from the Norwich University
Applied Research Institutes (which is serving
as the prime contractor), the University, the
Space Dynamics Lab at Utah State University, the Farmer School of Business at the
University of Miami in Oxford, Ohio, and
the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in
Washington, D.C., are working to create a
financial sector risk management model
that would include a threat based simulation
of cyber threat and other man-made and
natural disruptions. The model also includes
application to other key infrastructure areas
such as energy, telecommunications and
The need has never been greater, according
to Eric Braman, vice president of Norwich
University Applied Research Institutes.
“Cyber Conflict, the use of cyberspace as
an attack vector by a nation state or a transnational actor to conduct a non-kinetic attack, has the potential to affect a whole series
of critical infrastructures and the impact the
ability of the U.S. to conduct business,” BraUniversity of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
Computer Science and Engineering faculty, such as Bobby Bryant, left, and Yaakov Varol, right,
not only have played key roles in a national consortium to keep cyberspace safe from terror
attacks, they’ve also involved many of their students in the effort.
man said. “As a technological society, we’re
dependent on an open and safe Internet to
connect a whole host of activities. A potential
adversary, through exploit of the Internet,
could affect the confidentially, integrity and
availability of information, thus impacting
decision-making capability of both government and private sector enterprise. Though
a low-probability event, Cyber Conflict has
the potential to result in an extremely highconsequences.”
Norwich researchers have been at the
forefront of the cyber preparedness effort for
several years, having worked at assessing the
interconnecting roles and missions of government and industry and in recommending
strategies to counter cyber threats.
In formulating a far-reaching model that
would help government and members of the
nation’s key infrastructure industries replicate disruption of computers and information systems and to simulate decision-making processes of the participants, it became
apparent to Norwich that a “deeper bench,”
as Braman said, was needed for the project.
The University, which has targeted the
areas of computer Artificial Intelligence and
Serious Games in recent years by adding
faculty and increasing its breadth of research
in such areas, seemed a natural choice for the
“Three years ago, we made a conscious
effort to recruit more faculty members in A.I.
and Serious Games and that has certainly
boosted our potential for this kind of work,”
said Yaakov Varol, professor and chair in
the College of Engineering’s Department of
Computer Science and Engineering. “We
have a number of people who have done
work with the Navy, and the Department of
Defense with Serious Games simulations.
This is not our first foray into this kind of
work, although this is the first time that we’ve
done work which can be considered critical
or sensitive.
“We’re excited about the future of this
project.” The financial sector model the consortium is perfecting is a fascinating mix of
high-tech computer science and high-touch
human psychology, according to Ernest
W. Drew, the Principal Investigator of the
Norwich team.
“We need to have some tools in order to
deal with the effect of what disruptions could
Continues on page 20
College of ng ideas into realit y
Professor, students present at National Science Foundation
By John Trent
Fred Harris, a professor of computer
science and engineering, and three graduate
students made a powerful impression upon
Nevada U. S. Sen. and Majority Leader
Harry Reid and a host of other congressional representatives and staff on July 8-9 in
Washington, D.C., with a presentation on
Cyber-Physical Systems.
“The amazing things that I have been able
to watch here are just the tip of the iceberg
of what the future holds,” Sen. Reid said of
the presentation. He specifically cited Harris
and the three Computer Science and Engineering graduate students – Roger Hoang,
Richard Kelley and Sohei Okamoto – for
their excellent research.
The research on such systems spans
multiple areas of scientific endeavors. Harris spoke on work being done by multiple
departments in the College of Engineering
at the University of Nevada, Reno to design
smarter power delivery systems with the
goal of making sure that surprise events in
the power grid don’t
lead to brownouts
and blackouts in
large regions of the
Okamoto, a Ph.D.
student of faculty member Sergiu
Dascalu, showed off
research being done
by the University and
the Desert Research Institute throughout
the state on Cyber-Physical Systems for the
environment. These include a network of
sensors to detect and measure earthquakes
in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, sensors to track the environmental consequences of activities at the Nevada Test Site,
and environmental monitoring systems that
deliver information to decision-makers and
the public in the blink of an eye, guaranteeing that the best and most relevant information available is needed.
From page 19
occur within the financial sector if an event
were to occur,” he said. “But before you do
that, you need to work with the people in
the sector, to get a better idea of what they
do, at a gross level. We need to know, for
example, what a broker-dealer does – what
kind of business processes do they have?
How many transactions through their
system could be disrupted? And then, once
you understand that, how do people behave
when the system is interrupted.”
Drew said University professors such
as Bobby Bryant, an assistant professor
of computer science and engineering,
have played a key role in adding the more
technical layers to the model that is being
“Bobby and Yaakov are helping us apply
A.I. to business processes,” he said. “It’s another example of the collaborative nature
of this project. Norwich is responsible for
the underlying simulation and exercise, but
each member of the consortium has a very
clearly defined role. Nevada clearly has
a great deal of strength in A.I. and other
types of simulations.”
The consortium’s model that can be used
for specialized emergency preparedness
exercises is designed to look at disruptions
of key infrastructure, such as the financial
industry. Potential disruptions a technologically driven society can face can run
the gamut, from a man-made cyber attack
to a natural disaster.
“Every organization has a public face,”
he said. “And, they have transactions that
they have to do with the outside, whether
it’s a broker trying to clear a transaction
or a customer who buys a share of IBM.
The broker has to know where that share
is coming from; they have to get money
which may be sitting in another bank in
order to complete the transaction. There
are many requirements for a single buy or
sell to take place.
“Now, if one of those entities doesn’t do
what is expected of them, then the system
starts to break down. If one entity begins to
behave differently, the whole system could
quickly go out of balance. Unintended consequences of behavior can have a serious
impact on the system.”
Along slightly different lines, Hoang, a
Ph.D. student of Harris, presented research
linking neuroscience and computation,
describing work done by the College of
Engineering and the University of Nevada
School of Medicine to simulate neurons
and larger structures in the brain. Ongoing
work with the simulator is dedicated not
only to basic research and robot control, but
to the study of diseases such as Alzheimer’s,
Parkinson’s, and autism. Hoang also showed
how scientists can use advanced computer
graphics and virtual reality equipment such
as the new six-sided CAVE facility at DRI
to visualize their work and speed up the
process of research.
While Hoang talked about brain simulations that could in the future be used to
create intelligent machines, Kelley, a
Ph.D. student of faculty member Monica
Nicolescu, described his work in developing robots that use social information to
understand and predict humans’ behavior
and intentions. While the ultimate goal of
such research is robots that have social skills
and can fluently interact with humans, Kelley described more immediate uses of such
technology, including surveillance, security
and smart homes that are capable of assisting the elderly.
Reid was impressed with what he saw:
how Cyber-Physical Systems hold the potential to bring about a revolutionary change in
all aspects of Americans’ lives. The Senator
noted that the type of talent and creativity
he had seen was worth the attention of all
“If we had in this room a bunch of
athletes … this place would be loaded with
spectators,” he said. “Instead today we have
a lot of smart people from our very finest
universities … Johns Hopkins … Carnegie
Mellon …” Then Reid paused for a moment,
then added the best for last, with a smile:
“… and the University of Nevada … People
who are going to change the world and are
already changing the world. You’re changing
the world before our very eyes.”
College of Engineering
computer science and engineering
IGT symposium builds momentum for emerging technology
By John Trent
There is a sense of momentum on the
University of Nevada, Reno campus right
now, one that is emanating strongly from
the Department of
Computer Science
and Engineering
in ways that could
profoundly affect the
region for decades to
Yaakov Varol,
chair of the Department of Computer
Science and Engineering, has seen the
talent in his department build in the areas
of Serious Games and Artificial Intelligence.
The day is not far removed when northern
Nevada could become one of the major hubs
for emerging technologies in these areas
and others like them, which impact not only
games players throughout the world, but
other critical areas such as enhancement of
the state’s gaming industry, and national
“I really do think Reno, and the University, can become a major player in the
industry,” Varol said on Friday, April 17
following the morning session of the IGTUNR Engineering Symposium: Emerging
Technologies in Games and Gaming, which
took place at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center. “If the pieces come together as I
think they could, if the stars become aligned
properly, Reno could become a major game
developing venue.”
Earlier, in one of the presentations, James
Kosta, the CEO and founder of 3G Studios, a
Reno-based independent game development
studio, did nothing to refute Varol’s notion.
In fact, Kosta encouraged the gathering of
industry representatives, students and faculty to “get people involved with your games
… and see if they enjoy them.”
“I’m going to implore you to try and
find games that already exist in your life …
invent games that people want to play, play
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
The spring IGT-UNR Engineering Symposium made use of the University’s most technologically
advanced asset, the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center.
them constantly, and do the proper data collection and reporting,” Kosta said.
Kosta was one of several presenters that
included Donna Djordjevich, a senior member of the technical staff under the Homeland Security and Defense Systems Center at
Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M.; Michael Mateas, a computer science faculty member at UC Santa Cruz who
helped launch the game design program at
that institution; and Larry Dailey, professor of journalism in the Reynolds School of
Journalism, Jim Hunt of Bally Technologies,
Kosta, Tim Page of 5000ft, a Reno-based
independent video game software developer
and James Vasquez of IGT, who all joined
together for a panel discussion on “The Convergence of Casino Gaming and Computer
Games: Potentials and Barriers.”
Varol said he hoped the students, in
particular, would take away from the day a
heightened sense of motivation and excitement for the work they are doing at the
“Jim Kosta talked a lot about payoff …
and one of the payoffs from work like this is
professional satisfaction,” Varol said. “And
professional satisfaction is not something
that you get through extra money or another
corner office. Really, what is interesting
about emerging games right now is the fact
that people involved with it are doing good
work, work that others haven’t done before.
They are doing something that is successful in all aspects from all angles. There is
an excitement to this field, a sense that it is
constantly changing and that in order to be
successful, you have to put your heart and
soul into it.”
The event was made possible from an
endowment created by the Department of
Computer Science and Engineering. This
came about 15 years ago, following a $1 million gift from gaming technology powerhouse IGT of Reno, a part of which was set
aside as an endowment.
Varol said IGT is one of perhaps “half a
dozen” of computer and gaming technology
companies in northern Nevada – 3G Studios
and 5,000ft among them – that have either
catered directly to the gaming industry or
have served as subcontractors.
Having already produced a number of
graduates who have gone on to careers with
major companies such as Sony or Microsoft,
the College of Engineering is not sitting still
as the games field continues to innovate and
College of ng ideas into realit y
Integrated Bio-Analytical Systems Lab (IBASL) provides
biomedical diagnostic and environmental monitoring
The current research activities at the
IBASL, located on the third floor of the
Scrugham Engineering Mines building, are
supported by a University startup package and an Inter-institutional Biomedical
Research Activities Fund (IBRAF) pilot
research grant awarded to Dr. Xiaoshan
Zhu, Assistant Professor of Electrical and
Biomedical Engineering. Aiming to develop
two interdisciplinary research programs on
biomedical diagnostics and environmental
monitoring, two analytical chemistry technologies are being developed at IBASL. One
is a novel immunoassay for biomarkers or
pathogens using quantum dot labeling and
immunocomplex dissociation. This novel
assay is targeting to enhance sensitivity and
achieve multiplexed detection capacity. It
will be embedded into a microfluidics chip
to build a point-of-care biosensor. Such a
biosensor system is expected to generate a
timely and full risk assessment on coronary
heart diseases or environmental waters, and
also lower analysis cost and reduce labor.
The second technology under investigation
is bio-separation of pathogenic bacteria/viruses/spores or biotoxin in a representative
large volume of water or food sample. The
bio-separation technology uses ultrafiltration and fluid techniques to concentrate a
large volume of water or food sample in several milliliters or less, so that the enriched
pathogens can be detected for early safety
A research paper entitled “Magnetic Bead
Based Assay for C-Reactive Protein Using
Quantum-Dot Fluorescence Labeling and
Immunoaffinity Separation” was submitted
to Analyst in 2009 and it is in revision status
A research paper entitled “Compatibility
of Quantum Dots (QDs) with Immunobuffers and Its Effect on the Signal/Background
of QD-Based Immunoassay” was accepted
by Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
(DOI: 10.1007/s00216-009-3291-x) in 2009.
A research paper entitled “Micro/Nano-
The Integrated Bio-Analytical Systems Lab, located in the Scrugham Engineering Mines
Building, has provided a boost to interdisciplinary research programs on biomedical diagnostics
and environmental monitoring.
porous Membrane Based Gas-Water Separation in Microchannel” was accepted by
Journal of Microsystem Technologies (DOI
10.1007/s00542-009-0903-5) in 2009.
Three research abstracts have been accepted to present at Pittcon 2010, including
an oral presentation.
A poster entitled “Optical immunoassay
for pathogenic bacteria using quantum-dot
labeling and dissociation of immunocomplexes” was accepted to present at the 238th
ACS national meeting at Washington DC
this August 2009.
A research project interim report entitled
Assistant Professor of Electrical and
Biomedical Engineering
Background: Zhu received his Ph.D.
in Electrical Engineering (specialty:
BioMEMS and Biosensors) in 2005 at the
University of Cincinnati. From 2005-2008,
he worked for Yellow Springs Instruments
(YSI) as a scientist while focusing on
microfluidics based bioanalytical devices
for environmental monitoring.
“A Point-of-Care Immuno-Biosensor for the
Detection of Multiple Cardiac Biomarkers”
was submitted to NSHE this July 2009 and
highlighted in the NSHE July Newsletter.
Dr lZhu has been involved in various
outreach activities. He has been mentor
to a high school student in the Gifted and
Talented Education Program of the Washoe
County School District. Grace Lee, a high
school student in this program, has been
involved in the IBASL day-to-day research
routines and has received training in both
basic laboratory skills and fundamental
scientific or engineering concepts such as
buffer preparation, pH sensing, antibodyantigen reaction, quantum dot physics and
its applications in biosensors, optical fiber,
liquid waveguide, ultrafiltration, etc. She
also performed some research literature
review, which might guide Grace in making
decisions on her future career.
The IBASL also provided a device demonstration to a group of high school students
on Engineer’s Day in the College of Engineering. A basic concept using optical fiber
and liquid waveguide was introduced to
these high school students.
College of Engineering
electrical and biomedical engineering
Henson awarded patent
Jim Henson, associate chair of the
Department of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering, recently had a patent
awarded by the
United States Patent
and Trademark Office (USPTO). The
patent (Number
7,504,895) awarded
17 March 2009
is titled, “Multidimensional
Real-array Radar
Antennas and
Systems Steered and
Focused Using Fast Fourier Transforms.”
Radar systems are disclosed that include a
signal generator, an antenna, a switching
circuit, an I/Q sampling and signal demodulation (demodulation) processor, and
a FFT processor. The signal generator produces energization signals. The antenna
has multiple individual antenna elements.
The switching circuit is configured to deliver the energization signals to a selected
antenna element at a respective moment
in time to cause the selected antenna element to transmit a respective radar signal
in response to the energization signal. At
least one element receives a corresponding
return-radar signal before the switching
circuit selects a next antenna element to
transmit a respective radar signal. The demodulation processor receives the return-
radar signals from the antenna elements
and demodulates the return-radar signals.
The processor (FFT) fast-Fourier transforms the return-radar signals. The system
can include a magnitude processor that
determines, from the Fourier transforms,
respective magnitudes of the return signals
in at least one data plane. The system also
can include an imager.
Henson currently has three other patent
applications pending at the USPTO – two
in the area of high resolution covert magnetic media formation and one involving
methods for the enhancement of range,
azimuth, and elevation resolutions for
steered three dimensional imaging radar
Department one of main sponsors for international
symposium on microwave and optical technology
The Electrical and Biomedical Engineering Department is one of the main sponsors
of the 12th International Symposium on
Microwave and Optical Technology (ISMOT-2009) to be held in New Delhi, India
from Dec. 16-19, 2009.
The other sponsors are; University of
Delhi, India, IEEE EDS Delhi Chapter,
India, IEEE MTTS Delhi Chapter, India,
Society for Microelectronics and VLSI,
New Delhi, India, IEEE Northern Nevada
Section and Photonic Chapter and International Union of Radio Science (URSI).The
symposium was founded by UNR Professor
Banmali Rawat in 1986 and has been held
every alternate year in a different country
since 1989. Past symposia have been held
in Grand Forks, N.D. (1986); Beijing, China
(1989); Reno (1991); New Delhi, India (1993);
Kiev, Ukraine (1995); Beijing, China (1997);
Malaga, Spain (1999); Montreal, Canada
(2001); Ostrava, Czech Republic (2003); Fukuoka, Japan (2005) and Rome, Italy (2007).
More than 300 renowned microwave
and optical technology experts from more
than 30 countries are expected to participate in this year’s symposium where they
will present research papers on the latest
developments in microwave communication, antennas, radar, biological effects,
microwave and optical devices, metamaterials for microwave applications, optical communication, optical sensing, cellular phones
and mobile communication, high power
amplifiers and filters, microwave photonics,
electrooptics, optical fibers, optical solitons,
optical networks, laser technology, optical
multiplexing/demultiplexing, and future
Detailed information is available on the
ISMOT-2009 web page:
Several special sessions and short courses
in microwaves, antennas and optical areas
are also planned. Prof. Rawat is the General
Chair of the symposium while Prof. R. S.
Gupta from University of Delhi, India is the
Symposium Chair. The ISMOT is governed
by an International Advisory Committee
headed by Prof. Rawat and has 30 members
from 25 countries including UNR Professor
Emeritus Bruce Johnson. Future symposia
have been tentatively planned to be held in
Czech Republic (2011), Singapore (2013),
France (2015) and Australia (2017). For
further information, please contact Professor Banmali Rawat, EBME Department,
University of Nevada, Reno, (775) 784-1457;
Fax: (775) 784-6627; e-mail: [email protected]
During the 12th International Symposium on Microwave and Optical Technology (ISMOT-2009) in New Delhi, India, Dec. 16-19,
research fields covered will include microwave components and circuits, optical components, microwave and optical communication
systems, electromagnetic theory, antennas and more. The College of Engineering is a sponsor of the international gathering.
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
College of ng ideas into realit y
EBME has broad range of research, faculty expertise
The Electrical & Biomedical Engineering Department (EBME) has been actively involved in power system and energy
conversion research and teaching over the past 25 years. The department has 11 active courses in the power systems and
renewable energy areas and offers a renewable energy engineering emphasis. This option is designed for students seeking
a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering with an emphasis on renewable energy. The department recently hired
two faculty members to further enhance its research and teaching activities in renewable energy applications in electrical
Current Research Projects
• A. Trzynadlowski, “Communication Enhancement in Power Electronic Systems Using Spectral Nulls,” National
Science Foundation (NSF).
• A. Trzynadlowski, “High-Efficiency Gearless Power Conversion Systems with Silent Permanent-Magnet Machines,”
• C.Y. Evrenosoglu, M. Etezadi and T. Batchman, “Assessment of Alternative Energy Applications at the Nevada
Department of Transportation,” Nevada Department of Transportation.
• Kira Lay and C.Y. Evrenosoglu, “Integration of Renewable Energy Based Power Generation into the U.S. Grid:
Benefit and Challenges,” NSF EPSCOR Undergraduate Research Program.
• M. Etezadi, “Rapid Charge Electric Service Station,” NV Energy.
• S. Fadali, M. Etezadi, “PV Grid Connected System for an Emergency Health Clinic,” NSF.
Faculty Expertise
• Mehdi Etezadi-Amoli specializes in power systems analysis, planning and protection; renewable energy, smart grid
evaluation and applications; electromagnetic transient simulations; large-scale system modeling; and neural networks
and fuzzy control application to power systems. He is a registered professional engineer in the states of Nevada and
New Mexico.
• Andrew Trzynadlowski specializes in power electronics; control of electric motors; pulse width modulation
techniques; noise, vibration, and EMI mitigation in adjustable speed drives; fault diagnosis in electromachine systems;
application of DSPs in power conversion schemes; renewable energy systems; and novel structures of electric
machines. He is a Fellow of IEEE.
• C. Yaman Evrenosoglu specializes in electric power system analysis, operation and design; integration of
distributed renewable energy systems; smart grid applications in power transmission systems; advanced techniques
for power system monitoring and control; power system dynamic/static state estimation; fault location along power
system transmission and distribution lines; optimal power flow studies; and power system visualization.
• Cristian Lascu specializes in power electronics converters; control of electric machinery; active power filters for
power systems, microcontrollers and DSP applications; low power analog and digital electronics design; and smart
interfacing for wind and solar power system integration.
• Sami Fadali specializes in classical and modern control systems; fault detection; physiological modeling; nonlinear
and optimum control; fuzzy systems; and engineering education.
College of Engineering
electrical and biomedical engineering
Zhu a key participant in collaborative research with HSS
Working to encourage partnerships
among the state’s higher education institutions and other health providers or entities,
the Health Sciences System (HSS)
recently rewarded a
round of grants to
support collaborative
research in the area of
health and biomedical research.
The Inter-institutional Biomedical
Research Activities
Fund (IBRAF) grants
are one-year grants for pilot studies rather
than continuing support. The criteria for
the awards reflect the mission of the HSS
which is to increase collaboration within the
health training and health care industry. In
order to be eligible, proposals were required
to have two or more designated co-principal
investigators from separate institutions
from within the state’s public universities
and colleges or in partnership with outside,
health-related entities such as the Nevada
Cancer Institute, the Southern Nevada
Health District and the Whittemore Peter-
son Institute for Neuroimmune Disease.
One of the five grants awarded went to
Xiaoshan Zhu, assistant professor of Electrical & Biomedical Engineering, as well as Dayue Duan, professor of pharmacology in the
University of Nevada School of Medicine,
and Steen Madsen of UNLV’s Department
of Health Physics, to research a Pointof-Care Immuno-Biosensor for Multiple
Cardiac Biomarkers Detection.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the
leading cause of death in America, resulting
in nearly 450,000 deaths annually. It is
estimated that 16 million Americans have a
history of CHD and many have previously
been admitted to the hospital or visited
emergency rooms. Zhu, Duan and Madsen
propose to develop a point-of-care biosensor
device that would provide rapid diagnostic
and differential information to help evaluate
risk and to provide information about the
benefits of future treatments.
Each researcher has contributed his own
expertise to a multi-investigator, multi-institutional effort to develop a rapid cardiac biomarker detection chip. Each biomarker tells
something unique about the state of health
of the patient’s cardiovascular system.
These markers include CRP (C-reactive
protein), c-TNI (troponin I) and BNP (Btype natriuretic peptide). All three markers
together reveal important information
about the diagnosis and prognosis of CHD
in each patient. The biomarker tests will be
antibody-based and will be able to be run
rapidly and simultaneously. This research
involves advancing biochemical procedures
to be more reliable and sensitive, developing
micro fluidics-based analysis platform, and
configuring a fiber-based optical detector.
Research results will be used to develop a
full scale grant proposal for an NIH Exploratory/Developmental Grant Award or an
NSF Biomedical Engineering award.
IBRAF grants allow researchers to obtain
funded pilot data which further allows them
to develop a full-scale grant proposal based
on research result. This provides researchers with a much better chance of obtaining
larger grants. Additionally, NSHE system
researchers, working together, can develop
biomedical research in directions that individuals may not have been able to before,
thus promoting additional research capability and funding to individual institutions.
Planned Gift information
If you are interested in providing
for any aspect of the College of
Engineering in your will or trust,
please contact Melanie Perish at
(775) 784-6433 or email her at
[email protected] We will be happy
to work with you and your advisors
on any planned gift or estate
planning you would like to discuss.
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
College of ng ideas into realit y
Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) Aircraft (F-35 Lighting II).
Source: & The Seattle Times October 14, 2001
Thermal protection with an engineer’s touch
Chanwoo Park’s research team (Sustainable Energy Laboratory) at the Department of
Mechanical Engineering in the University
has been developing
computational tools,
which allow for
engineers to analyze
thermal responses of
protective clothing
and human skin in
an effort to provide a
proper thermal protection to military aircraft maintainers.
The research has been funded by a
research contract from Advanced Cooling
Technologies, Inc. (ACT) and U.S. Air Force
Research Laboratory (AFRL).
The Short Take-Off and Vertical-Landing
(STOVL) aircrafts, next generation military
aircrafts, vector jet thrust vertically. The
thrust vectoring gives the STOVL aircrafts
the unique ability to take off from a short
runway or take off vertically if they do not
have a very heavy payload and land vertical-
ly (i.e. with no runway). The vertical thrust
vectoring creates a new kind of thermal
hazard to the aircraft personnel working
around the aircrafts. The personnel require
a proper thermal protection to keep them
from being burned by jet engine exhaust.
The computational tools being developed by Park’s research team allows one to
accurately predict the thermal response of
the fabrics (as shown in the insets) used for
the thermal protection garment under various thermal hazard conditions including
aircraft jet engine exhaust. The simulation
tool also determine various fabric/clothing
design parameters (e.g., arrangement and
number of fabric layers, fabric thickness
and permeability) required to provide an
optimized thermal protection and estimate
human skin burn using the AFRL’s human
skin burn simulation program, BURNSIM.
Extensive experimental effort has also been
made by the research collaborators at ACT
to help us to calibrate the computational
models for accurate prediction of the fabric
thermal response. The computational tool
will have a broad impact on designing thermal protection equipment for other thermal
protection applications (e.g., fire fighters)
and assessment of the human skin burn
under various thermal hazard conditions
without involving human subject experiment or animal testing.
Scanning Electron Microscope Image of the Fabric (NOMEX) Used for Thermal Protection.
College of Engineering
mechanical engineering
Collaborative effort between UC-Davis, Engineering,
looks to novel methods for breast cancer treatments
The greatest challenge in the treatment of
breast cancer is the control and eradication
of this metastatic disease. This study aims
at harnessing the body’s immune system
to help control disseminated disease as
opposed to current cancer treatments that
involve tumor antigen loss through surgical
resection followed by immunosuppressive cytoreductive therapies. It proposes to
accomplish this using mechanical injury to
the tumor via injection of controllable fluids
such as a magneto-rheological fluid (MRF)
and application of magnetic field.
MRF is a suspension of ferrous particles
in a carrier medium. Under a magnetic field
Greiner performs peer
review analysis, projects for
NRC while on sabbatical
Miles Greiner, professor of Mechanical Engineering, is on sabbatical during
the 2009-2010
academic year.
During this time
he will be working on projects
for the US
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
(NRC) and Argonne National
Laboratories. For
the NRC he plans
to perform a peer review of analysis the
NRC performed. In that analysis, they
predict what would have happened if
spent nuclear transport casks had be
involved in four actual severe transportation accidents. For Argonne, he plans
to perform an analysis of how hydrogen/
oxygen mixtures can build up in some
nuclear material storage packages, and
how those mixtures might detonate. This is an analysis that will help designers make those packages safer. University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
the particles are aligned similar to a chain
along the lines of magnetic flux and causing
injury on the neighboring tissue. It is hypothesized that this will result in the classic
induction of “danger signals”: tumor cell
death, disruption of the tumor architecture
and release of tumor antigens culminating
with recruitment and activation of dendritic
cells. Used in combination with immunomodulating agents such as CD40 agonistic
antibody and IL-2, this treatment will
provide activation of the immune response,
provide tumor antigen to dendritic cells
and maintain cytotoxic tumor-specific T
This is a collaborative effort between former University of Nevada, Reno researcher
William Murphy’s group at the University
of California, Davis and Cahit A. Evrensel
and Faramarz Gordaninejad of Mechanical
Engineering and Alan Fuchs of Chemical
Engineering at the University of Nevada,
Reno. Biocompatible MRF conjugated with
different agents described above, electromagnets with desired fields and mathematical models will be developed at the University of Nevada, Reno and animal studies
will be accomplished at the University of
California, Davis.
Renewable energy …
made possible with visionary knowledge
of the College of Engineering
The College of Engineering
is striving to help the State of
Nevada become the nation’s
leader in renewable energy
through the work of its
talented faculty, motivated
students and partners from
throughout the University of
Nevada, Reno campus.
“It is my belief that we can all achieve
great things if we all work together,
focused on a common goal.”
– Manos Maragakis, Dean, College of Engineering
College of ng ideas into realit y
faculty awards & news
• V. Dean Adams
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Alumni Merit Citation Award from Utah State
Emeritus Faculty
• Theodore Batchman
Electrical and Biomedical Engineering and
Renewable Energy Center
Received the Ronald J. Schmitz Award for
Outstanding Service to the Frontiers in
Education Conference, October 2008
• Indira Chatterjee
Electrical and Biomedical Engineering
Associate Dean
Received the Ralph E. and Rose A. Hoeper
Excellence in Teaching and Advisement
Dr. Gary Norris, CEE
• Amy Childress
Civil and Environmental Engineering Chair
Nevada Women’s Fund Women of
Achievement Award
Area Networks (LANMAN), Cluj-Napoca,
Transylvania, Romania, September 2008
• Ahmad Itani
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Second Place, F. Donald Tibbits, Distinguished
Teacher of the Year Award
• M. Sami Fadali
Electrical and Biomedical Engineering
Co-authored the book Digital Control
Engineering: Analysis and Design
• Jonghwan Suhr
Mechanical Engineering
National Science Foundation Faculty Early
Career Development (CAREER) Program
Award Development of biologically inspired
artificial skins that can make aircraft more fuel
• Eric Wang
Mechanical Engineering
Winner of the 2009 Regents Teaching Award
• Ian Buckle
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Foundation Professor 2009
• Murat Yuksel
Computer Science and Engineering
Best Paper Award - M. Yuksel, K. K.
Ramakrishnan, and R. D. Doverspike, “CrossLayer Failure Restoration Techniques to
Provide a Robust IPTV Service”, Proceedings
of IEEE Workshop on Local and Metropolitan
Collaborative Awards
• Carl Looney & Sergiu Dascalu
Computer Science and Engineering
Best Paper Award at the 21st International
Conference on Computer Applications in
Industry and Engineering (CAINE-2008),
Honolulu, Hawaii, November 2008.
Saul Reed, Carl Looney, and Sergiu Dascalu
“A Recursive HypersphericClassification
Algorithm,”/ Proceedings of the 21st
International Conference on Computer
Applications in Industry and Engineering
(CAINE-2008), November 2008, pp. 156-160
Dr. Richard Wirtz, ME
• Manoranjan Misra
Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering and
Sergiu Dascalu
Computer Science and Engineering
Received the Nevada Center for
Entrepreneurship and Technology’s Faculty
Advisor Special Recognition Award
• Keith Dennett & Luis Loria Salazar
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Received the Outstanding Faculty Award
from the Department of Civil & Environmental
• Jeff LaCombe, Associate Professor of
Chemical & Metallurgical Engineering, Eric
Wang, Associate Professor of Mechanical
Engineering and Ann-Marie Vollstedt,
Ph.D Student/Doctorial Candidate, were
awarded the ASEE 2008 Merl K. Miller
award. This award is an annual prize for
the outstanding Computers in Education
Journal paper on teaching/instructional
methods. It recognizes the contributions and
dedication of Merl K. Miller to the Computers
in Education Division (ASEE).
College of Engineering
new faculty
Chemical &
Dev Chidambaram
has joined the faculty of
Chemical & Metallurgical
Engineering as an Assistant
Professor. He received
a B.Tech. in Chemical
and Electrochemical
Engineering from the Central
Electrochemical Research Institute (India),
and graduate degrees, M.S. in Materials
Science and Engineering, M.S. in Biomedical
Engineering, and Ph.D. in Materials Science
and Engineering (2003), from the State of
New York at Stony Brook. Prior to joining
the faculty at Nevada, he was an Assistant
Materials Scientist at the Brookhaven National
Laboratory in Upton, N.Y. His research has
included extensive studies of protective
coatings of aluminum alloys and depleted
uranium, environmental remediation, and
renewable energy (bio-ethanol production
and bio-hydrogen generation). He has
received a number of awards and honors,
including the Hans-Jurgen Engell Prize from
the International Society of Electrochemical
Society, the Goldhaber Distinguished
Postdoctoral Fellowship.
Computer Science and
Eric Fritzinger has joined the faculty
of Computer Science and Engineering as
an administrative faculty. He received his
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in
December of 2004 from the University of
Nevada, Reno, and his Master of Science in
Computer Science in August of 2006 from
UNR as well. Prior to joining the faculty at
UNR, he worked as a Software Engineer at
Hamilton Company in Reno, NV.
His duties at Hamilton included software
research, architecture, development, and
integration for the fluid handling robots
that were manufactured, as well as product
support for the service staff in the field.
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
While working as a Teaching Assistant at
the University, he won the Oustanding TA
award for the STEM disciplines given by the
Excellence in Teaching Program across the
entire University.
Anya Getman recently joined the
Department of Computer Science and
Engineering as a Research Associate Professor,
after contributing as a Senior Engineer,
Blackbelt, and Manager to Caterpillar, Ford,
GE, and IBM. Her B.S., and M.S. at Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute, and Ph.D at Binghamton
University, evolved from Manufacturing
Mechanical Engineering with Robotics,
to Electrical Engineering Controls with
Artificial Intelligence. She enjoys developing
and implementing automation, sensor
fusion, nonlinear modeling, controllers and
user-friendly interfaces which isolate, track,
diagnose, and predict real-time signals in
uncertain environments, even when data
is incomplete or corrupted. Her tools have
included statistics, historical time-frequency
mapping, neural networks, fuzzy logic,
genetic algorithms, deterministic chaos,
wavelets, stochastic petri nets, clustering,
controllability and observability mapping,
simulation, and testing.
Michael J. McMahon Jr. has
joined the faculty of Computer Science &
Engineering as administrative faculty. He
received a Bachelor of Science in Computer
Science (2004) and a Master of Science in
Computer Science (2007) from the University
of Nevada, Reno. Prior to joining the faculty
of UNR, he was a Database Administrator
/ Software Developer at GameTech
International, Inc. in Reno. His experiences
included architecture, implementation, and
support of databases, software systems, and
a web portal that drove the daily activities
of the company. During this time, he
received certifications in Microsoft Windows
Presentation Foundation (WPF), Windows
Communication Foundation (WCF), ADO.NET,
and Windows Forms technologies. He has
also acquired in-depth experience with web
portals (ASP.NET, CSS, XHTML, JavaScript) and
database development spanning Microsoft
SQL, MySQL, and SQLite database engines.
Electrical and Biomedical
Cristian Lascu received the M.S. and
Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from
University Politehnica of Timisoara, Romania,
in 1995 and 2002, respectively. His area of
expertise includes energy conversion and
management systems, advanced power
electronics, modern electric drives, renewable
energy systems with focus on solar and
wind power generation and conversion,
and microprocessor controlled systems. He
worked in Romania, Denmark, Italy, and USA.
Since 2009 he is an Assistant Professor with
the Department of Electrical and Biomedical
Engineering, University of Nevada. Since 2000
he is a reviewer for three IEEE Transactions
journals and for related IEEE conferences.
He authored/co-authored 13 articles in IEEE
Transactions journals and another 24 articles
in refereed conference proceedings. Lascu
received an IEEE-IAS Prize Paper Award in 1998.
College of ng ideas into realit y
Kerri Hickenbottom is a senior in the civil and environmental engineering program. She is one of two Northern Nevadan student recipients of
the American Public Works Association 2009 scholarship. Hickenbottom will graduate in May 2009 and continue her education in civil and
environmental engineering as a master’s student.
Engineering students play prominent role
in science of statewide climate change
By John Trent
The equation is indisputable: climate
change + global warming = increasing
scarcity of water. And for an arid state like
Nevada, the equation has taken on a warpspeed kind of significance, with researchers from the state’s institutions of higher
education partnering throughout multiple
scientific disciplines to find the best solutions to the problem of climate change.
University of Nevada, Reno civil engineering student Kerri Hickenbottom is just
one example of how student researchers
have also been mobilized through a groundbreaking statewide climate change initiative
funded by the National Science Foundation
(NSF) EPSCoR program.
Hickenbottom is one of 16 students from
Nevada System of Higher Education institutions who were awarded scholarships this
summer to conduct research as part of the
State of Nevada’s EPSCoR Climate Change
Program. The Undergraduate Research Opportunity solicitation targeted students in science, technology, engineering, mathematics
and journalism with a focus on teaching or
communicating K-12 science or technology.
Of the 16 students selected, 11, like Hickenbottom, were students from the University of Nevada, Reno.
Hickenbottom, working with mentor Amy Childress, professor of civil and
environmental engineering, has conducted a
study of three different membrane bioreactor configurations. She says the membrane
bioreactors (MBR’s) could prove to be a
viable alternative to achieve sustainability in
wastewater treatment.
“The research aims to investigate the
performance differences of aerobic MBR’s,
anaerobic MBC’s, and attached growth
aerobic MBR’s under the same operating conditions,” says Hickenbottom, who
plans to graduate in spring 2010 and then
continue her studies as a graduate student in
environmental engineering.
Here are brief sketches of the other
research projects conducted by the Univer-
College of Engineering
student news
sity’s undergraduate students:
Lina Castano, biochemistry and molecular
molecular biology: Castano and her mentor,
John Cushman, professor of biochemistry,
have studied desiccation tolerance, a rare
adaptive response of plants that allows them
to survive extreme drought conditions. “This
kind of survival mechanism is present in
‘resurrection’ plants, and it can
be better understood by studying it using several scientific
approaches including genomics,
metabolomics and proteomics,”
she says.
David Culverson, environmental studies: Working with
two mentors, Scott Mensing,
professor of geography at
the University and Bronwen
Haugland, physical sciences
professor at Truckee Meadows
Community College, Culverson
is updating data from four climatological divisions of Nevada,
in an effort to make “Nevada’s
Weather and Climate Handbook” more readily available to the public
and other researchers.
Nichole Joslyn, biochemistry and molecular biology: Joslyn, working with mentor
Sean Casey, associate professor of chemistry,
is exploring the chemical control of organic/
inorganic semiconductor interfaces. The
results will address the role of the linking
group on the overall molecular orientation
and interface electronics. These are areas that
are important for improvement of inorganic/
organic hybrid semiconductor materials.
Samantha Kertson, chemical engineering:
Working with Charles Coronella, associate professor of chemical and metallurgical
engineering, Kertson’s research objective is
to evaluate efficiency when extracting fatty
acids from specific strains of algae located in
neighboring areas. “Since fatty acids can be
directly converted into renewable energy, it
is expected that the outcome of this research
will enable a more efficient means for the
production of more carbon-neutral biofuels,” she says.
Kira Lay, electrical engineering: Lay’s proposal addresses the benefits and challenges
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
of integrating renewable energy-based power
generation into the Nevada power grid,
emphasizing and demonstrating the need for
in-depth analysis of the impacts of wind, solar and geothermal-based power generation
on a sample system. Her mentor is Cansin
Yaman Evrenosoglu, assistant professor of
electrical and biomedical engineering.
Kerri Hickenbottom shows the results of
her work associated with research on state
climate change during a recent poster
Kimberly Rafter, civil engineering:
Rafter’s proposed study investigates the possibility of using secondary-treated wastewater to culture algae for the development of
a new renewable energy source. “There are
numerous benefits of using algae, including
its potential to produce high concentrations
of biomass that can be used for biofuel,” says
Rafter, whose mentor is Eric Marchand, associate professor of civil and environmental
Sean Ross, chemistry: Ross, working
with mentor Robert Sheridan, professor of
chemistry, is looking at several internal and
external effects related to fuel emissions.
“We will study the reactivity of carbenes
possibly formed upon combustion of hydrocarbons,” Ross says. Ross is also studying
the reactivity of carbenes with oxygen to
form carbonyl oxides, which are intermediate species of hydrocarbons with ozone, as
well as the carbenes themselves.
John Stefka, biology and wildlife ecology:
Stefka is using point count surveys from
about 50 sites to gather information on
the species of birds in the Truckee River
vicinity. “After identifying which birds can
adapt to novel habitats, an assessment of the
relative abundance and species richness of
the various avian species will be
used as a measure of community response to habitat change,”
says Stefka, who is working with
mentor Scott Bassett, assistant
professor of geography. By
studying the adaptive responses
of these birds to urbanization,
the study will infer the possible
adaptive response of the species
to climate change.
Alicia Stillwell, mathematics:
Stillwell, working with Mark
Pinsky professor of mathematics
and statistics, is focusing on the
design and testing of alternative
feedback controlled estimators and forecasters for some
simplified models of meteorological systems.
Stillwell says that complex systems arising
in different application domains accumulate
various uncertainties that decrease the accuracy of numerical forecast. “Consequently,”
she says, “present meteorology research has
adopted various approaches integrating
observations and numerical simulations to
enhance the precision of numerical simulations of partly uncertain systems.”
Robert Vaughn, environmental engineering: Vaughn’s research is focused on
improving methods for water reuse. He says
one of the most significant obstacles in water
reuse is the presence of persistent organic
contaminants. He is working to remove one
class of contaminant, pharmaceuticals and
personal care products (PPCP’s). “We need
to improve the degradation of PPCP’s in
recycled water,” says Vaughn, whose mentor
is Edward Kolodziej, assistant professor of
civil and environmental engineering. “Using
soil columns to simulate a recycled water
system, PPCP’s will be injected into the soil
columns and their levels will be measured as
they travel through the columns.”
College of ng ideas into realit y
measuring the locations of individual photons
and assigning an uncertainty distribution to
each photon. This technique allows images
to be constructed in very dim light and
movements as small as a few nanometers to
be monitored optically. Best wishes to Josh
and his wife, Jenna, as they embark on this
exciting venture.
Doctoral program
graduate accepts post-doc
at Oxford
The most recent doctoral graduate from
Biomedical Engineering program, Joshua
Larkin, has accepted a postdoctoral research
position at Oxford University in England. Josh
begins work in the fall with Peter Cook, EP
Abraham Professor of Cell Biology at Oxford.
Cook heads a nuclear structure and function
research group with a particular emphasis
on quantitative approaches to questions
in biology. Josh will conduct research
on the epigenetic effects of chromatin
structure using various molecular biology
and fluorescence microscopy techniques
on transfected cells. Specifically, he will be
looking at the specificity with which certain
genes are transcribed in different transcription
factories. This work, in conjunction with other
research by the inter-disciplinary group of
biologists, physicists and mathematicians
challenges the putative model of
transcription in which RNA polymerases
diffuse to their targets to begin transcription.
The work will help determine the structure
of chromatin in interphase nuclei and how
this organization affects the regulation of
Josh received his undergraduate degree
from the College of Engineering where he
was a dual major in mechanical and electrical
engineering. His doctoral work within the
biomedical engineering program focused
on “Photon Event Distribution Sampling”
(PEDS), a novel photonics technique in
which images are constructed by precisely
Recent Ph.D. student
receives NSF Grand
Challenge award
Andrea Achilli received the National
Science Foundation – Association of
Environmental Engineering and Science
Professors (AEESP)
Grand Challenge
Student Paper Award
at the 2009 AEESP
Conference for his
publication titled
“Power Generation
with Pressure
Retarded Osmosis:
an Experimental and
Theoretical Investigation.” He also recently
completed the Ph.D. program in Civil and
Environmental Engineering (CEE) with
a dissertation titled “Osmotically-Driven
Membrane Processes for Water Reuse and
Energy Recovery.” His advisors were Amy
Childress and Eric Marchand of the CEE
Cerjanic earns undergrad
research honor
Alex Cerjanic, who graduated in
August 2009 with a B.S. degree in Electrical
won an Honors
Research Award
during the academic
year 2008-2009. His
research project
was entitled “Design
and Fabrication of a
Perfusion Electrode
Microchamber for nanosecond Pulsed
Electric Field.” His research mentor was
Professor Indira Chatterjee. Alex worked on
developing a novel microelectrode chamber
incorporating perfusion for the study of
intracellular calcium changes in chromaffin
cells that are found in the adrenal gland when
exposed to high intensity nanoelectric pulses.
These nanoelectric pulses have potential
clinical applications in treating cancer, as well
as applications in pure research in physiology
and pharmacology. Alex worked on this
interdisciplinary project in collaboration with
Dr. Gale Craviso, Professor of Pharmacology,
University of Nevada School of Medicine. The
numerical modeling part of his research will
be featured in a journal article in a special
issue of the IEEE Transactions on Dielectrics
and Electrical Insulation.
Students earn honors
Xuan Wang, Ph.D. candidate in the
transportation program of the Civil
Engineering Department, has won the District
6 Van Wagoner Award for the best ITE District
6 technical paper published in 2008, for her
article entitled “Evaluation of Lane-by-Lane
Detection at Signalized Intersections Using
Simulation.” Wang’s award was presented
during the District 6 Annual Meeting held in
Denver, Colo., in July. The Van Wagoner Award
was endowed in 1987 by the Van Wagoner
family in honor of Wayne Van Wagoner, a
District 6 member who successfully served
the District and was editor of WesternITE
between 1980 and 1984, just prior to his
untimely death in an auto accident in October
of 1985. His wife Patricia continued to serve as
WesternITE editor from 1984 until 1990.
College of Engineering
student news
Patrick Hu, also pursuing a Ph.D. in
transportation, has won second place
in the District 6 Van Wagoner Award
competition. This is the third year in a row
that the University has won the first place
and second year in a row to win both first
and second places. Zong Tian, assistant
professor of Civil and Environmental
Engineering is advisor to both students.
WICSE promotes support
for women in Computer
Science and Engineering
WICSE (Women Into Computer Science
and Engineering) is a group of women who
are pursuing degrees and careers in, or
related to, computer science and computer
engineering. The organization’s purpose is
to promote an environment of community
and academic support for current and
prospective women in these fields. This newly
formed group will have scheduled study
sessions, technical and informational lectures
to assist women taking computer science
and computer engineering courses. These
activities, along with planned recreational
outings, are intended to help foster interest,
knowledge and camaraderie for members.
Women who are not Computer Science or
Computer Information Engineering majors
but are taking classes and/or have an interest
in these fields are encouraged to join us. For
more information visit our blog at http://wicse. or email [email protected]
Women Into Computer Science and Engineering
Society of Women
Engineers hosts ‘Evening
with Industry,’ Nov. 3
CEE graduate students
The University of Nevada, Reno collegiate
section of the Society of Women Engineers
celebrated the 14th annual Evening with
Industry event on November 3rd, 2009. It was
an evening of networking and enthusiasm
for engineering with nearly 200 professional
engineers and engineering students
attending. Over 15 engineering and mining
companies were represented at the event.
The event took place in the Joe Crowley
Student Union on the University campus in
a ballroom with a striking view of the City
of Sparks at night. Travis Johnson, P.E., of NV
Energy gave the keynote address entitled
Xuan Wang and Patrick Hu, both
students in the transportation program
pursuing Ph.D. degrees, won the first and
second places for the Best Student Paper
competition of the ITE Intermountain Section
in April. It is the third year in a row that the
University has won the first place prize, and
the second year in a row that students from
the University swept the first two places,
according to Zong Tian, assistant professor of
Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Left to right: College of Engineering Dean
Manos Maragakis, his wife Mary, and
University President Milt Glick at EWI.
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
“Electric Vehicles are Coming – What’s the
Big Deal?”
Dr. Milton Glick, President of University,
Dr. Manos Maragakis, Dean of the College of
Engineering, and Mary Frederick, Governor
of the Society of Women Engineers Region
A, all shared their thoughts and ideas about
engineering and the importance of increasing
the number of women in technical fields.
This event would not have been possible
without the support of all of the company
and individual sponsors who attended the
College of Engineering, and the Mackay
School of Mines and Earth Sciences in the
College of Science.
Left to right: Sadie Thompson, VP and
Organizer of EWI, and Shannon McDaniel,
College of ng ideas into realit y
Senior Scholar Fall 2008
Greg Kraus, Mechanical Engineering
• Advisor: Dr. Eric Wang
Senior Scholar Spring 2009
Nick Aboumrad, Civil Engineering
• Advisor: Dr. V. Dean Adams
Excellence in Honors Award
Ben Seelbinder, Computer Science
& Engineering
• Advisor: Nancy Latourrette
Kasia Nowinski, Chemical &
Metallurgical Engineering
• Advisor: Dr. Alan Fuchs
Outstanding Graduate Student
Researcher Award 2009
Narasimha Rao Kondamudi,
Chemical & Metallurgical Engineering
• Advisor: Dr. Manoranjan Misra
Outstanding International
Graduate Student Award 2009
Muhanna Muhanna, Ph.D
Candidate, Computer Science &
• Advisor: Dr. Sergiu Dascalu
Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s
Cup 2009
Graduate Winners
2nd Place - $10,000
Northern Nevada Nanotubes
Team Members:
Alison Pyne - Finance
Justin Culver - Chemical Engineering
Umer Javed - Chemical Engineering
Tim Stutz - Chemical Engineering
Stuart Greenfield - Economics
• Advisors: Gary Valiere (Mangement) &
Alan Fuchs (CME)
Undergraduate Winner - $5,000
Carbon Gold
Team Members:
Palkin Zed - Materials Science and
Engineering, Marketing
York Smith - Chemical Engineering
• Advisor: Manoranjan Misra (CME)
Lt. Governor’s Award Winners
Presented to Best Energy-Related
Business Plan
Graduate Winner - $5,000 Prize
Appliance2.0 Solutions
Team Members:
Alexander Cerjanic - Electrical
Connor McCune - Electrical
Alex Carr - Engineering Physics
The College of Engineering’s concrete canoe team had a banner season in 2009, finishing second at the pacific
regional competition.
Kingsley Anoshiri - Electrical
• Advisor: Yantao Shen (EBME)
NCED Commissioners’ Award
Presented to Business Plan that Best
Economic Development Needs of
Rural Nevada
$2,500 Prize
Clean Bean
Team Members:
Jason Strull – Material Science &
Rao Kondamundi – Material Science
& Engineering
• Advisor: Manoranjan Misra (CME)
University Rover Challenge
2nd Place
Team Members:
Travis Fields (ME)
Brad Towle (CSE)
Blake Poe (ME)
Tracey Van Gundy (Geophysics)
Harrison Edwards (high school
Matt Weller (Geol. Eng)
Gregory Kraus (ME)
Matt Savage (CME)
Daniel Heywood (home school)
Kurtis Clark (CME)
Chris Reede (ME)
David Welge (ME)
Shannon Archer (Hydrogeology)
Tommy On (ME)
Austin Stanhope (CSE)
David Anderson (ME)
• Advisors: Jeffrey LaCombe (CME),
Eric Wang (ME) & Wendy Calvin
AIChE Western Regional
Conference 2009
Paper Competition
3rd Place – NASA Team
Justin Culver (presenting)
Tim Stutzman
Umer Javed
CHE Car Competition
1st Place - Poster Competition
Shawn Pugh and Kasia Nowinski
Schinthia Islam, Rebekah
McKenna, Umer Javed, Trevor
Clizer, Nalin Howard, Annie
Lassaline, Jimmy Dinh, Madeline
• Advisor: Victor Vasquez
Materials Science Competition
American Association of Textile
Chemists and Colorists (AATCC)
Smart Electronic and Nano-Materials
1st Place – Palkin Zed
• Advisor: Manoranjan Misra
NSF EPSCoR Summer 2009 Awards
Kerri Hickenbottom
Kim Rafter
Alex Vaughn
• Advisors: Amy Childress, Eric Marchand
and Edward Kolodziej
Concrete Canoe Competition
Winners of the Nationals 2008 in
Quebec, Canada
Corbin McFarlane
Robert Coomes
Jeff Weagel
Justin Kunert
Mark Cukrov
Andrew Durham
David Jayme
Mitch Brown
Benjamin Mach
\Michael Taylor
Kyle Hollingsworth
Chad Lyttle
Brooke Buzzone
Kelly Doyle
Suzanne Durr
Katie Bowden
Tiffany Reichert
Tarin Strickler
• Advisor: David Sanders
College of Engineering
student awards
Midpac Competition 2009 :
Concrete Canoe
Won every race and finished 2nd
Mitch Brown, Project Manager
Andrew Durham
Tiffany Reichert
Katie Bowden
Mark Cukrov
Jeff Weagel
Jorge Gonzalez
Katie Ezell
Kim Rafter
Ray Hooft
Angeli Gamez
Jose Garcia
Justin Kunert
Tanaya Kawakami
Kevin Nguyen
Austin Youngblood
• Advisor: David Sanders
Nick Brothers
Zack Recine
• Advisors: Keith Dennett & Eric
Best Student Paper 2009
Given by Institute of Transportation
and the Ban Wagoner Award for best
paper from D-6 published in the ITE
Zuan Wang, Ph.D Candidate
• Advisor: Zong Tian
Best Student Paper
1st Place
Rachel Coyner
ASCE/AGC Student • Chapter Advisor:
David Sanders
Sara Nasser & Adrienne Breland
“Parallel Assembler for Fuzzy
Genome Sequence Assembly”,
Proceedings of ISCA’s Computer
Applications in Industry and
Engineering (CAINE 2008) ,
November 12-14, 2008, Pages 13-19.
• Advisor: Frederick C. Harris, Jr.
Midpac Competition 2009: Water
Midpac Competition 2009: Mead
3rd Place
Nicholas Aboumrad - Project
Christine Chia
Jake Kelgard
Alissa Ellis
Brandon Ellis
Nola Miller
Kerri Hickenbottom
Elizabeth Tissier
David Johnson
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
Kira Lay
Awarded $4,500 by NSF EPSCOR
Climate Change program for her
proposal entitled “Integration of
Renewable Energy Based Power
Generation in to the US Grid: Benefits
& Challenges”
• Advisor: Cansin Y. Evrenosoglu
Doc Harris Speaking Competition
1st Place
Bryan Young
2nd Place
Heather Culbertson
• Advisor: Kwang Kim
ASME Student Professional
Development Conference 2009
Old Guard Website Contest
1st Place – Thomas Kerr
2nd Place – Austin Thibault
Old Guard Poster Contest
3rd Place – Tara Lewis
Mechanical Engineering Participants:
Heather Culbertson
Thomas Kerr
Tara Lewis
James Ross
Austin Thibault
Bryan Young
• Advisors: Kwang Kim and Candice
ASME HPVC Competition
Winners of the Sportsmanship Award
Utility Event
1st Place
Overall Utility
2nd Place
Mechanical Engineering Participants:
Jason Ross (Chair)
Mike Chilton (Vice-Chair)
Brett Barlow
John Bradley
Danielle Cotter
Heather Culbertson
Noah Gerh
Tom Kerr
Tara Lewis
Brandon Makridis
John Malinowski
Chris Newman
James Ross
Erinn Seifman
Austin Thibault
• Advisors: Jonghwan Suhr & Candice
Chemical & Metallurgical
Outstanding Senior: Kasia Nowinski
Outstanding Service: Shawn Pugh
Civil & Environmental Engineering
Outstanding Senior: Michael Levi
Outstanding Service: Jorge
Computer Science & Engineering
Outstanding Senior: Xiao Lu Zhang
Outstanding Service: Joshua Hegie
Electrical & Biomedical
Outstanding Senior: Justin
Outstanding Service: Howard Rapp
Mechanical Engineering
Outstanding Senior: Hank
Outstanding Service: Tara Lewis
College of Engineering
Senior Service Spring 2009:
Kurtis Clark
Materials Science & Engineering
College of ng ideas into realit y
Summertime rite
Engineering Summer Camps swing into action
By John Trent
Each summer, when school is out and
northern Nevada’s brightest young minds
are looking for ways to keep their learning
fun, yet interesting, the College of Engineering has the perfect activity for such students.
The college’s ultra-successful Engineering Summer Camps are held each summer.
From building “mini-concrete canoes”
that compete on the sparkling waters of
the fountain outside Getchell Library on
the University of Nevada, Reno campus to
tours of the vast array of minerals housed in
the Keck Museum in the Mackay School of
Mines Building to gaining insight through
the instruction of civil engineering professors on the inner workings of the typical
traffic signal, the experience is both handson and memorable.
According to Debbie DeLauer, K-12
outreach coordinator for the College of Engineering, the camps usually help spark an
even greater interest for students interested
in one day studying engineering or one of its
many aspects.
“If we can catch the students early, hopefully they’ll remember the experience and
they’ll be back to consider a major in one
of our nine engineering programs,” said
“The Engineering Summer Camps are
one of our great success stories,” added
Manos Maragakis, dean of the College of
Engineering. “They show young people
that engineering is not only a challenging
and important field, it can be a lot of fun to
In 2009, there were two camps. The Introduction to Engineering Camps, designed for
students 12 to 14, were held on June 22-26,
and again on July 13-17 and July 27-31.
Activities for the 12- to 14-year-old campers
involve faculty and staff from Chemical and
Metallurgical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Computer Science
and Engineering, Electrical and Biomedical
Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.
Engineering Summer Camps
have proven to be one of
the College of Engineering’s
great outreach success
stories, showing campers that
engineering is a challenging
and fun field for a young person
to study.
The Civil and Environmental Engineering Camps, designed for students ages 14
to 17, were held on July 6-10 and July 20-24.
Activities are focused on three areas: earthquake, environmental and geotechnical.
The five sections of the two camps have
an enrollment of about 25 and usually fill
well before the K-12 school year is out,
DeLauer said. The camps offer the students a
week-long opportunity to interact and learn
from some of the college’s finest professors.
Many of the engineering professors have
active research agendas with grant funding
that includes a K-12 educational outreach
component, which helps unite efforts and
provides for a richer learning experience for
the students.
The camps also encourage and actively seek students from all backgrounds.
Students from all Washoe County public,
private and charter schools are encouraged
to attend, and a vast array of donors offer
financial aid and scholarships for students
with an aptitude for math and science.
Partners for the camps include community
organizations such as Big Brothers Big
College of Engineering
K-12 outreach
Sisters, the Boys & Girls Club of Truckee
Meadows, and the Reno Housing Authority. On-campus partners include the Dean’s
Future Scholars program in the College
of Education – a program that encourages
low-income students to attend college and
become teachers.
The camps have also made strong inroads
in encouraging girls’ interest in mathematics, science and engineering. National
studies have shown that girls often lack such
encouragement in middle school and high
school and drift away from such subjects.
In March, the camps received the news that
the EWB Fund at the Community Foundation of Western Nevada will be providing a
$5,000 scholarship. The scholarship is being
used to enroll more girls in the camp.
Kevin Chen, a Presidential Scholarship
recipient who recently graduated from
McQueen High School and was part of the
highly successful Dean’s Future Scholars
program on campus, will be attending the
University as a freshman in the fall. Chen
said his experience participating in the
Summer Camps has been a highlight of his
“It was a really fun way to learn about
engineering, and what engineers do,” said
Chen, who spent the last two summers
working with the middle school students
who were enrolled in the camp. “At that age,
it’s one of the happiest and most fun times
of your life, and there is a lot of learning
going on. It’s a great introduction to not only
engineering, but to the campus and what it
has to offer.”
Added DeLauer: “The camps help give
the students a glimpse into their potential
future as college students, and also gives
them access to support that will help make
their entry into our engineering programs
a success.”
The camps are held in the Harry Reid
Engineering Laboratory on the University
campus, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Registration fee is
$250. Scholarships and financial assistance
are available.
For more information about the Engineering Summer Camps, go to: http://www.
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
n Camps
Three Intro to Engineering Camps
Two Civil Engineering Camps
n Format
• Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. • $250 per camp
• Qualified Instructors designed the content
of each camp, including professional guest
• Campers enjoyed lab tours, experiments,
classroom lectures, hands-on activities, tours
of campus, weekly field trips
• Parents were responsible for transportation
• We provided healthy snacks
• DFS program provided free lunches for all
campers for first 4 camps, the last week
students were required to bring their own
• Keepsake water bottles, t-shirts, and various
prizes were given to each camper
• Parents were invited to a celebration
ceremony, power point presentations were
made by teams of campers and certificates
were given to each camper at end of
n Participant & Financial Information
• 102 participants (ages 12-17) attended the five
• Seven campers attended more than one camp
• 93 campers received full or partial scholarships
• Total Scholarship $ granted: $18,050
• Each girl received at least a $200 scholarship
• Total Scholarship $ granted to girls: $ 7,900
• Nine campers paid in full
• Total Registration fees collected overall: $7,200
n Gender and Ethnicity
Female: 31
Male: 71
Caucasian: 74
Asian: 7
African American: 4
Hispanic: 13
Middle Eastern: 4
K-12 Outreach: Pride for college, community
Our College of Engineering is proud of two successful outreach programs that help local
students explore how and why math, science and technology are important subjects to learn more
about as they prepare for college and the workforce. We help them discover what “engineering” is
and how to pursue a career path in various engineering fields. These two programs are:
• Our Summer Engineering Exploration
Camps were developed to encourage middle
school and high school students to participate in week long summer camps to build
and explore everything from mousetrap
powered cars to earthquakes, bridges and robotics. These camps provide young students
with a glimpse into their future as engineering students, and access to support that will
help make their entry into our programs a
success. Thanks to support from Hewlett
Foundation, Hawkins Foundation, Harley
Davidson Financial Services, and several federal grants (NSF, DOE, EPA, NASA) we have
expanded on the two original themed camps
to six camps during the summer months. In
addition to promoting the camps to students
in all the Washoe County public and private
schools, our donors offer financial aid and
scholarships for children with an aptitude for
math and science associated with community organizations such as: Big Brothers Big
Sisters, the Boys & Girls Club and the Reno
Housing Authority.
• Our Mobile Engineering & Education
Lab (ME2L) has visited over 100 classrooms
and approximately 3000 students since its
inception in 2002. Professionals in our community, many prior University of Nevada,
Reno engineering graduates, along with
current engineering students present lessons
in local classrooms connecting engineering applications with the national science
standards. Bringing our students into the
classroom not only allows them practice in
presenting engineering concepts to nontechnical audiences, it also allows younger
students to see and talk with role models
who can share this exciting field of study and
career path.
College of ng ideas into realit y
2009: The Year In Review
Students, faculty continue to find ways to excel
In practically every month throughout 2009, a student, or teams of
students, excelled in local, regional or
national competitions, or embarked
on notable and noble undergraduate and graduate research endeavors.
In addition, faculty found innovative
ways to not only continue to excel in
the classroom but to pursue ambitious
research agendas. Their outstanding
performances helped bring renown to
the campus, and perhaps just as importantly, bolstered the campus’ morale in
the face of challenging economic times.
Said University President Milt Glick
during an October town hall meeting:
“The culture of this campus and the
willingness to understand that this is
a tough time … people are doing their
best and being extremely positive about
it. That’s something special.”
Here is a brief look at a sampling of some
of the top stories of 2009 at the University of
Nevada, Reno.
Debate team makes history …
In the spring, two young men from different ends of the state, and from remarkably
different backgrounds, teamed together to
bring a pair of historic national championships to the campus.
Senior David Pena from Overton, Nev.,
and sophomore Max Alderman, from Reno,
won the National Parliamentary Debate
Association Tournament in Stockton, Calif.,
on March 30 and captured first place at the
National Parliamentary Tournament of
Excellence in Berkeley, Calif., on March 23.
Pena and Alderman became only third team
in the history of collegiate parliamentary
debate to win the both honors in the same
“This has been one of the most phenomenal experiences of my life,” said Alderman, a
National Merit Scholar who came to debate
somewhat late in high school, having been a
said University Vice President Student
Services Shannon Ellis. The average grade point average (GPA) for the
incoming class increased 0.6 percent
from 3.335 to 3.355. Average ACT scores
rose to 22.8 from 22.7, and SAT scores
to 1062 from the previous year’s 1054.
According to data collected by the ACT
Program, the national average for 2009
high-school graduates was 21.1. “It’s
clear we’re continuing to attract bright
and prepared students, and this raises
the level of the campus experience for
everyone: faculty, staff and students,”
University President Milt Glick said.
University of Nevada, Reno debate champs
David Pena and Max Alderman with their
National Parliamentary Debate Association
“choir kid” for most of his young academic
life. “This is the epitome of what we could’ve
achieved and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the University.”
Pena, who moved to the United States
from Mexico when he was 15 and had to
learn English in high school, was a four-year
veteran of the Nevada debate team. “This
was my last year and it was a very good way
to finalize my career here,” he said.
Campus welcomes highest
achieving freshman class ever
As part of its highest academically
performing incoming-freshman class, the
University welcomed nine new National
Merit Scholars in fall semester 2009. They
join the 16 already enrolled, bringing the
University’s total to 25. “In addition to our
new National Merit Scholars, this year’s
freshman class came to us having performed better than any others in terms of
high-school GPA, ACT and SAT scores,”
School of Medicine, National
Council of Juvenile and
Family Court Judges
celebrate 40th anniversaries
In January, one of the campus’ longtime
national assets, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, celebrated
its 40th year on campus. The council has
played a key role in serving the needs of
those who improve justice for young people
and their parents. In September, the School
of Medicine celebrated its 40th anniversary
with a number of festivities, including a
gathering of about a dozen members of the
school’s very first class, along with founding
dean, George Smith, M.D.
Glick, Johnson announce
strategic plan
In a town hall meeting in early October,
President Milt Glick and Provost Marc
Johnson announced the final details regarding Johnson’s strategic plan presentation
to the Nevada System of Higher Education
Board of Regents. “Going forward, our
plans are now to move from buildings to
people,” Glick said. “We are going to focus
on students and faculty and funding for
programs. Our priority will be to enhance
faculty support and to enhance student support.” To do this, Glick and Johnson both
College of Engineering
the university
said the campus will increasingly look to
become more entrepreneurial, seeking partnerships in the community and with state
programs. Johnson laid out an ambitious list
of goals for the campus, including: become
a comprehensive university; serve Nevada’s
traditional and emerging renewable energy
industries; prepare Nevada for the diversified knowledge economy; prepare Nevada
youth to participate in the world economy;
improve the physical and mental health of
Nevadans; enhance sustainable environmental quality in Nevada; participate in
intercollegiate athletics with an emphasis on
student-athletic success both on and off the
field; build the University’s infrastructure.
New Pennington Building to
revolutionize healthcare for
During the annual Foundation Banquet
on Sept. 24, President Milt Glick announced
that the William N. Pennington Foundation
had committed $10 million to the University
for the purpose of a new Health Sciences
Building. The Pennington gift, along with
a $2.5 million gift from the Nell J. Redfield
Foundation and a $1 million gift from the
Thelma B. and Thomas P. Hart Foundation
brought the total private investment in the
building to $15 million. These gifts, along
with $31 million from the Nevada State Legislature, will support construction of a new
teaching facility. The new facility, which is
anticipated to open in fall 2011, will allow the
University of Nevada School of Medicine to
expand its class size from 62 to 100 students
for a total enrollment of 400 students, while
the number of Orvis School of Nursing students will double for an eventual total enrollment of about 300 students. This expansion
is expected to go a long way toward addressing the state’s shortage of doctors and nurses,
and will ensure that our future doctors and
nurses will be trained under one roof.
Casper honored by Carnegie
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for
Advancement and Support of Education
(CASE) named History professor Scott
Casper as the state winner of its 2008 U.S.
Professors of the Year award, announcing the award late
in 2008. The award,
founded in 1981, is
the only national
program recognizing excellence in
undergraduate teaching and mentoring.
Casper, who has
taught at the UniverCasper
sity since 1992, teaches upper-division courses on Revolutionary
and 19th-century America, the history of
the book in America, and the Civil War
in American culture, as well as the Core
Humanities course “American Experiences.”
He wrote the 2008 book, Sarah Johnson’s
Mount Vernon: The Forgotten History of an
American Shrine, as well as Constructing
American Lives: Biography and Culture in
Nineteenth-Century America, which won
the 1999 Book History Prize from the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading
and Publishing.
The University’s fall freshman class in 2009 is the highest academically performing class to ever enter Nevada.
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
College of ng ideas into realit y
Mobile Engineering Education Lab program rolls to success
By John Trent
Washoe County School District students
have known about the College of Engineering’s Mobile Engineering Education Lab
for several years. But at no time has this
unique outreach arm of the college been
more successful, or as far-reaching.
During the recently concluded school
year in Washoe County, it is estimated that
the Mobile Engineering Education Lab
brought a host of fun, interesting and educational engineering activities to as many
as 250 kindergarten through eighth grade
students each week.
And since its inception in 1997, the Mobile Engineering Lab has presented lessons
and information to more than 100 schools
in northern Nevada, serving more than
5,000 students in the community.
Thanks to private funding from the
Mallory Foundation, the Mobile Engineering Lab has generated untold excitement
in the areas of mathematics, technology,
science and engineering. “It really has been
a success story,” said Debbie DeLauer, the
College of Engineering’s K-12 outreach coordinator. “We’ve been lucky to have such
fantastic (College of Engineering) students
who get in front of the school kids and are
so enthusiastic about engineering.”
The Mobile Engineering Lab program,
which as DeLauer said is presented by
current College of Engineering students,
brings hands-on lessons to K-8 classrooms.
Lessons run about an hour for a class of
30 students. The first 30 minutes of the
presentation introduces the University of
Nevada, Reno and general engineering information, followed by another 30 minutes
of specific lessons and hands-on activity.
This is where the fun starts, DeLauer
said. “We’re hopeful when we begin the
presentation that the students know that
an engineer isn’t someone who just drives
a train,” she said. “We hope that they learn
that engineer is about problem-solving,
and that mathematics and science can be a
fun when it is used to design projects.”
“Our Engineering students who go to
the schools really help bring these aspects
of the profession to life. They reinforce the
message that engineering is a way to do
design structures, and to create some really
cool, inventive products.”
Lessons include introduction to bridge
terminology and different types of bridges
(where students actually build a miniature
bridge); introduction to electrical terminology and the concept of converting electrical energy into mechanical energy (where
students build a simple electric motor);
introduction of the terminology of simple
machines and forces and motion (where
students test various simple machines);
gears (where students build a gear system
and experiment with different gear sizes
and how it affects speed); pulleys (where
students build a pulley system and experiment with a different number of pulleys
and how it affects the system).
These general lessons, which comply
with Nevada’s science standards, have an
informal, surprisingly fun component
that help all students better relate to the
concepts being taught. The bridge design
lesson, for example, uses K’nex (a learning
tool similar to Legos). Students learn how
to make a battery from a lemon in another.
In addition, the program also encourages students from low-income families who
are attending at-risk schools that college is
indeed an option.
“When we first visit, many of these
students aren’t even thinking about college,
or about engineering as a career,” DeLauer
said. “That’s where our Engineering students can make such a difference. They’re
so great with the kids, and encouragement
is a big part of what they try to do when
they visit the schools.”
To find out more about the Mobile Engineering Lab program, go to:
College of Engineering
alumni profile
Wayne Trewhitt
College of Engineering • Class of 1962
Wayne Trewhitt is a native Californian,
born and raised in the San Francisco Bay
Area. His parents are both UC-Berkeley
graduates. It was always assumed that he
would follow the same course. But when
his time came to choose an institute of
higher learning, he selected the University
of Nevada, Reno’s College of Engineering
(which, at the time, was referred to as “UN,”
since it then was the only Nevada campus).
To this day, Wayne maintains that it was
the best decision. “What I received was a
practical education,” he explains, “one that
prepared me well for the working world.
The university’s small size (which at the time
totaled 1,200 students, both undergraduate
and graduate), dedicated faculty, and
the ability to work for local construction
companies during my college years, gave
me a solid foundation for the future.”
Wayne’s first position after graduation was
with a company that provided services to
the Atomic Energy Commission. He spent
six months on Christmas Island and he was
present for the last three nuclear atmospheric
tests. The sights and sounds left a profound
impression and, although he was issued
minimal protective covering, he never
experienced ill effects from the experience.
Upon his return to the Bay Area, Wayne
joined his father’s company and began his
career path in the field of “garbage.” Initially,
the company handled the disposal of San
Francisco’s waste. They later expanded into
other operations, and formed a subsidiary
company that turned an open dump at
Mustang, Nevada into a sanitary landfill as
well as starting the Lockwood Landfill that
now services the Reno/Sparks Area and
parts of Northern California. Over the course
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
of several years, the family company was
sold, greatly expanded, and then portions
In 1992, Wayne, with two other
experienced private waste companies,
formed Nortech Waste, a company
organized to design, construct, and operate
a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) to meet
the needs of California cities that were
being mandated by State legislative action
to reduce the amount of waste going into
landfills. (A MRF is a specialized plant that
receives waste material, separates it through
a combination of manual and mechanical
sorting, and prepares the recyclables for sale
to end-user manufacturers). Nortech was
initially contracted by the Western Placer
Waste Management Authority in Placer
County, California to design and operate
its 1,400-ton per day MRF. A few years later,
Nortech signed a second contract to design
and mange the expansion of this facility to a
capacity of 2,200 tons per day.
“Over the past 14 years,” explains Wayne,
“this plant has proven to be the most
successful facility of its kind in the United
States. Our total recovery has reached
approximately 47 percent, after much
of the commercial/industrial recyclables
are removed at the source. We are now
planning for the next expansion to meet
the anticipated state goal of a 75 percent
reduction in waste going to landfills.”
These achievements have earned Wayne
many honors. The Environmental Industry
Association, which recognizes leaders in
the waste industry who have distinguished
themselves through significant contributions,
named Wayne “Man of the Year,” and also
inducted him into its “Hall of Fame.”
Wayne’s most recent project is designed
to further reduce the waste going into
landfills as well as provide a source for
alternative energy. Nortech is contracted to
supply processed feed stock to a company
now breaking ground on a gassification
plant in Storey County,, that will reprocess
recovered waste into ethanol and methanol.
“Being an MRF facility,” says Wayne, “we are
able to extract the right waste material for
this process and exclude any contaminants.
The plant produces clean fuel out of
organic byproducts, is non-polluting, and is
economically viable when the price of oil is
above $40 a barrel.”
With this expansion. Wayne returned to
his University roots and hired a College of
Engineering graduate (Josh Mooneyham)
as an intern to help with the design and
planning of the feed stock preparation
for the new Story County plant and the
startup of a new landfill operation in Placer
County. He could not be more pleased with
the result. “Josh has extensive experience
with AutoCAD that interfaces with a very
sophisticated GPS system, designed to assist
in the management of waste placement
in a landfill,” says Wayne. “He can look at
processes as stepping stones in solving
problems. The caliber of his education, as
well as the fact that he, too, worked in the
‘real world’ while attending the university,
enabled him to be productive almost as
soon as he joined us.”
Although Wayne has been in the
“garbage” business for over 40 years, he
continues to look at new opportunities.
“There are so many possibilities in this field,”
he states, “I cannot even think about retiring.
I am having too much fun.”
College of ng ideas into realit y
Edwin Osgood ’58 (electrical
engineering) is now a self proclaimed
snowbird with a home in Goodyear, Ariz.
and a great outdoor enthusiast with a cabin
in Picabo, Idaho. Edwin and his wife recently
celebrated the 40th Annual Ski Reunion of
Osgood’s Army friends at Heavenly Valley,
Calif. The couple is also busy with two world
cruises to Australia and New Zealand in
January and Italy and Spain in October.
Gene McClelland ’71
(chemistry), ’78M.S. (metallurgical
After graduation, Gene continued the
career he began in 1969 at the U.S. Bureau of
Mines until he resigned in 1983 to manage
a metallurgical
laboratory in
Sparks for Bateman
Engineering. In
1986 he founded
Laboratories, Inc.
Gene’s business was
successful and he
remains president
and CEO. Currently, McClelland Laboratories,
Inc. employs about 50 people, including
many Nevada graduates. Gene has authored
more than 100 publications and obtained
several metallurgical process patents used
by mining companies throughout the world
during his 40-year career. Gene is a volunteer
in several community activities: director,
Reno Rodeo Association (27 years); organizing
committee of the Legends Reno Tahoe
Open (11 years); organizing committee of
the Ronald McDonald House Charities Golf
Tournament. Gene and his wife, Patti, were
freshmen at Nevada when they married in
William Baker ’74 ME, is pleased to
announce his son, young Bill, president of
TKE fraternity this year, graduated in May
with a degree in mechanical engineering at
the University of Nevada, Reno.
Jeff Ceccarelli ’76 CE, NV Energy
corporate vice president, service delivery
and operations and president of Sierra
Pacific Power, has
been named the
University’s Alumnus
of the Year and will
be honored during
the Homecoming
Gala. Jeff has also
been appointed as
Chair of the College
of Engineering
Advisory Board after serving as a member of
the board for many years.
Mark Foree ’80 (civil engineering
was recently named general manager for
Truckee Meadows Water Authority, the largest
water purveyor in the area. He is a registered
professional civil engineer in Nevada and
California and has 28 years of experience in
planning, design, operation and maintenance
of complex water treatment and distribution
Dean Weitzel ’81 CE, has joined
MACTEC Engineering & Consulting, Inc. in
Reno as a senior engineer. He previously
worked for the Nevada Department of
Transportation for 30 years in various
divisions, including materials, bridge,
roadway design and construction.
Mark W. Yenter ’81 CE, was recently
promoted to the rank of general in the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers. He is the 28th
commander and division engineer for the
Pacific Ocean Division and is responsible for
a mission that includes engineering design,
construction and real estate management
for the Army and Air Force in Hawaii and
Alaska for all Department of Defense
agencies in Japan, the Republic of Korea and
Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands.
Warren C. Kocmond Jr. ’82 ME,
has accepted the position of chief executive
officer at Electroglas, Inc., a leading supplier of
wafer probers and prober-based test handling
solutions for the semiconductor industry.
Warren has been the chief operating officer of
the company since May 2008.
Susan Martinovich (BS, Civil
Engineering, 1983) has been elected
the first female Vice President of the
American Association of State Highway
and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). She
has worked for the Nevada Department
of Transportation for more than 25 years.
As Director, she is responsible for the daily
operations of the
department that has
an annual operating
budget of $674 million
and 1,700 employees.
She currently serves
as chair of the
AASHTO Standing
Committee on
Research, vice-chair for
the Standing Committee on Highway Traffic
Safety, and chair of the Leadership and
Engineering Management Committee. She
is a member of the Transportation Research
Board Executive Committee. She is also
a member of many other Transportation
Research Board committees, including the
Oversight Committee for SHRP-II, which
will oversee the national research activities
identified in SAFETEA-LU. Martinovich is a
licensed professional engineer in Nevada and
Eren ’85 MBA and Fatih Ozmen ‘81
M.S. (Electrical Engineering) for their joint
Alumni Relations Awards for Outstanding
Professional Achievement and Fatih as the
recipient of the 2009 James G. Scrugham
Medal for Outstanding Professional
Achievement of College of Engineering
Monte Morrison ’86 CME, has
recently joined Magma Energy Corp. as
vice president of operations after 11 years
with Constellation Energy. Monte has
College of Engineering
alumni news if you’d like to
read more about her adventures.
Eren Ozmen
Fatih Ozmen
managed multiple geothermal power
plants in Nevada, California and Hawaii for
more than 20 years. Monte will manage
Magma’s power plants, both domestic
and international, as well as assist with
acquisition efforts. Monte resides in Fallon
with his wife of 25 years, Amy (Genkinger)
Morrison, and their two sons, Brett and Josh.
Brenda Lee ’90 CE, an engineer for the
Regional Transportation Commission, won a
project of the year award from the Nevada
Chapter of the American Public Works
Association. Brenda was recognized for her
work on the U.S. 395 improvements at Clear
Acre Lane that included the McCarran Bridge.
Scott T. Barnes ‘82 A.A. engineering
design tech, ’91 CE, has joined the Reno
office of Colliers International as an
associate specializing in the area of land
development. Scott is passionate about
land development and has been involved
with several major master planned
communities and projects in the Reno/
Sparks area. Scott is happily married to Yann
Ling-Barnes and his daughter, Clarissa, is a
freshman at the University.
Tasha (Palmer) Lopez ’99 CME,
has been selected to participate in IBM’s
Corporate Service Corps (a corporate
version of the Peace Corps). She will be in
Africa through March. Most of her time
will be spent working with an umbrella
organization that advocates for a better
business climate in the industrial sector
in Ghana. You can visit her blog at
Douglas Buck ’01 CE recently joined
Bowling Mamola Group, a civil engineering
firm. A licensed professional engineer, Doug’s
career experience includes planning, design
and construction of potable water, reclaimed
water and sanitary sewer facilities for the
City of Sparks, Truckee Meadows Water
Authority, Washoe County Department of
Water Resources and Silver Springs General
Improvement District.
David Mrowiec ’03 CE has joined Pennoni Associates as lead professional engineer
diver and senior engineer in its Transportation
Technology Department. David has more
than five years’ experience with the Nevada
Department of Transportation, as well as
seven years’ experience as a commercial
diver. Davis has also conducted salvage and
construction operations and diver in rotation
for projects located around the world, as well
as non-destructive testing and destructive
testing in underwater environments and on
submerged structures. He will lead teams on
bridge and underwater inspection projects
for a variety of clients.
in memoriam
Irvin R. Wanke ’36 (civil engineering)
died April 17, 2009 at the age of 94 at his
home in Warwick Forest. Born in Sparks,
in 1914, he graduated valedictorian from
Sparks High School and went on to earn
his master’s in Civil Engineering from
the University of Nevada in 1936. With
the outbreak of World War II, Irv joined
the U.S. Army and was assigned to the
Engineer Section, U.S. Army Headquarters,
China/Burma/India Theater of War, and
New Delhi, India. It was there that he met
Dorothy Vera Smith, fifth generation of the
British Raj. At the conclusion of the War, he
and Dorothy were married and returned
University of Nevada, Reno • Winter 2010
to the United States. From there he served in
Taegu, Korea, during the Korean War; Sendai,
Japan; and Fort Meade, Md. In 1959, after 11
years of service he retired from the Army as
a lieutenant colonel, accepted a civil service
position at Fort Monroe, and relocated to
Newport News. In 1969, he retired from civil
service and devoted the next 40 years to
golf, gardening, enjoying music and the arts,
managing his investments and traveling the
world with Dorothy.
Irv was a member of the American Society
of Civil Engineers, Society of American
Military Engineers, Masonic Lodge, Retired
Military Officers Association of America,
James River Country
Club, Christopher
Newport University
Lifelong Learning,
and St. Stephens
Episcopal Church.
Irv is survived by
his wife of 63 years,
Dorothy; son Bob
(Janice); daughter
LaVerne (Rob); three granddaughters, Kim,
Trisha and Karin; and six great-grandchildren.
View and post condolences on our online
guestbook at
College of ng ideas into realit y
in memoriam
Chuck Jack ’61 (civil engineering) died
Jan. 5, 2009, at the age 75. Chuck was born on
Aug. 1, 1933 in Crooked Lake, Ind. He went on
to earn his bachelor’s degree in engineering
from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1961.
He was also in the U.S. Army during the
Korean Conflict. Chuck would later work as a
civil engineer with the
City of Los Angeles for
32 years.
From the City of
Angels, came his
mentor, Al Liff, who
convinced Chuck to
begin working for the
city as an assistant
engineer in sewer
design in the East San
Fernando Valley, Calif. After seven years of
learning and accomplishment with East San
Fernando Valley, Chuck was promoted to full
civil engineer, and in 1968 he moved to street
design. Chuck was key in the effort to help
rebuild East San Fernando Valley streets after
the 1971 and 1973 earthquakes.
He enjoyed his life, knowing that he “struck
gold” because of his contributions to his
family and his career. He was a devoted
traveler for all his years, most recently during
retirement, journeying to Europe and touring
the United States in his fifth wheel trailer with
his wife.
Chuck is survived by his wife of 54 years,
Dorothy, daughter, Linda (Dennis), son Jeff
and his wife Yumiko, brothers, Doug (Deanne)
and Steve (Clara); sister, Sharon; and two
grandchildren, Evan (Amanda), and Leah.
John “Johnny” Knemeyer ’42 (electrical
engineering) died on July 17, 2008 at Sentara
Williamsburg Hospital.
Johnny was born “on
the Fourth of July,”
1920 in Yerington.
His early years were
spent in Nevada and
California. In 1942, he
graduated from the
University of Nevada
where he participated
in various collegiate
sports and would remain an avid tennis
player. He went east to Pittsburgh to work
for Westinghouse Electric Corporation. After
two years, he moved to the Hampton Roads
area where he took a position at NACA (now
NASA) as an engineer. His career at NASALangley spanned 46 years, retiring in 1990 as
the chief of facilities engineering. He was a
longtime member of Grace United Methodist
Church. John was preceded in death by his
parents Edward and Mae. His memory is left
to be cherished by his wife of 59 years, Louise;
two daughters Linda and Karen (Daniel);
two sons Neal and Ken; a grandson, Kevin
(Jennifer); a granddaughter, Elizabeth (Brian);
four great-grandchildren Brody, Jake, Emma
and Andrew; one brother, Franklin and a
host of loving relatives and faithful friends.
The family will be forever grateful to the staff
of Dominion Village of Williamsburg and
Sentara Williamsburg Hospital for their kind
and loving care. Condolences can be posted
online at
Jack Wulff, beloved husband, father,
Sacramento native son and 40 year resident
of Walnut Creek,
passed away on July
24 after a long battle
with heart disease. He
was 80 years old.
A proud native
Californian, Jack was
born in Sacramento
on February 20,
1929, to Otto and
Clementine Goodman
Wulff. He graduated from Sacramento
High School, class of 1946, and went on to
earn his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil
Engineering from the University of Nevada,
Reno. In 1950, he married his high school
sweetheart, the former Jane Lee Farmer, and
then spent 18 months as an officer in the U.S.
Air Force.
Jack was the State of Californias
Department of Water Resources first Chief of
Earth Dams Design and was directly in charge
of the designs for most major dams in the
State Water Project, including Oroville Dam,
the highest earth-fill dam in the world at the
time of its completion. Jack entered private
practice in 1968 as Principal Engineer for
Design and Construction with Leeds, Hill, and
Jewett in San Francisco and later went on to
become Chief Engineer, Vice-President, and
then President of Wahler Associates in Palo
Alto and Walnut Creek.
Jack is survived by his wife and love of
his life, Jane; son Dave and his wife, Joyce;
son Doug and Jim Arata. Jack will forever be
remembered for his love of life, his devotion
to Jane and his family, his hundreds of dear
friends and neighbors, his sense of humor,
funny travel stories, beautiful singing voice,
and his secret family recipe for gin fizzes.
The faculty and staff of the College of Engineering extend their sincere condolences on the passing of these alumni. If you have information on the
passing of any alumni member, please send this information to: Sally Casas at [email protected] or mail the information to Sally Casas, College of
Engineering, Dean’s Office, Mail Stop 256, UNR, Reno, NV 89557.
College of Engineering
2009 Scrugham Medal recipient
Fatih Ozmen
visionary leader
s CEO of Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), 2009 Scrugham
Medal recipient Fatih Ozmen’s leadership and vision
propels SNC in its exploration of novel and cutting-edge
technologies. With broad technical and business knowledge,
Fatih uses his insight and experience to anticipate the emerging
technological needs of the global marketplace, allowing SNC to
develop tomorrow’s technologies today. Fatih joined SNC in 1981 with a broad engineering background
culminating with a M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the
University of Nevada, Reno. He designed and developed numerous
high-tech systems and managed several key integration programs
during his early years at SNC. Known as a creative thinker and
problem-solver, Fatih continually maintains a strong customer
focus, while bringing outstanding strategic management skills and
extensive business leadership experience to his position.
With a strong vision for the future of SNC, Fatih and Eren Ozmen
acquired the company in 1994 and set their plans in motion to
expand and grow. As a direct result of their emphasis on integrity,
strategic planning, and strong financial and technical management,
SNC has grown into one of the top performing federal contractors in the United States.
SNC continues to be a leader and maintains itself at the forefront of the electronics,
communications, space and aviation industries through Fatih Ozmen’s never-ending
enthusiasm, insight and expertise to expand SNC through a series of targeted
acquisitions. With the Ozmens at the helm, SNC has grown from a company of 20
employees to a full-service systems integrator with seven business areas in 35 locations
in 20 states. Today, SNC employs approximately 2,000 people – most of whom are
scientists, engineers, or technical personnel — and all of whom are dedicated to
meeting and exceeding the needs of SNC’s diverse customer base. As CEO, Fatih Ozmen
leads the dedication to quality and service that is a hallmark of the entire organization. Under Fatih Ozmen’s leadership SNC has received numerous awards, including the
2001 Nevada Distinguished Business of the Year.
As a tribute to Fatih and Eren’s exceptional leadership, in 2009 SNC was nominated as
a “Best Place to Work” in a competition hosted by the Economic Development Authority
of Western Nevada (EDAWN), the Northern Nevada Human Resources Association
(NNHRA) and the Reno-Gazette Journal. SNC employees honored the company by
voting SNC as one of the top two “Best Places to Work” in Northern Nevada, above more
than 200 other large companies nominated. SNC received this award based solely upon
the stellar results of anonymous employee surveys focusing on satisfaction in the work
environment including: Senior leadership’s successful vision, extraordinarily generous
employee benefits, team effectiveness, trust with coworkers, feeling valued and people
practices, among others.
In addition to his role as an influential businessman, Fatih promotes an active lifestyle
and was formerly a professional champion bike rider.
Partnered with Eren Ozmen, this team serves as SNC’s Top Corporate Officers and
provides the dynamic leadership and strategic vision that have been the driving forces
behind SNC’s dramatic success.
The James Graves Scrugham
Medal was designed to
commemorate one of the key
figures in the history of the
College of Engineering and
the state of Nevada. Alumni
who have become nationally
recognized because of their
professional achievements are
being honored with this award.
James Graves Scrugham was a
distinguished Nevadan who was
the first Dean of the College of
Engineering, a State Engineer,
Governor of Nevada, a U.S.
Representative in Congress and
a U.S. Senator.
College of Engineering
University of Nevada, Reno / Mail Stop 0256
Reno, NV 89557-0256
Non Profit Org.
U.S. Postage
Nevada, Reno
Permit No. 26
Change Service Requested
College of Engineering Mentoring Program
The College of Engineering (COEN) is pleased to announce a new mentoring program. We plan to begin a pilot
phase of this program in January 2010 that will focus initially on freshman and sophomore engineering and
computer science students. Students will be paired with accomplished engineers and computer scientists who
are either currently in professional positions or have retired. Engineering mentors and mentees will explore
career opportunities in engineering, computer science and related fields together.
•Interested mentors and students will fill out a short questionnaire to assist with pairing.
• Mentors and students will
meet for two semesters, on a schedule customized to fit their needs.
• At the end of the year, each mentor and student will share their experience through an evaluation form.
Types of activities
• Shadowing the mentor for a day at the mentor’s workplace
• Tour of the mentor’s company
• Lunch meetings
• Coffee meetings on or off campus
• Attending professional talks/
• Phone and e-mail communication
• Help with resume writing and
interviewing skills
• Give your time and talent to another generation of COEN students.
• Guide them in ways in which you were guided or you wish you had been guided.
• Take advantage of learning about education, engineering, or workforce perceptions from a very different perspective.
• Make an impact – on an individual and on the culture
of the COEN.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor or have any questions, please contact
Meg Fitzgerald ([email protected]) or Jennifer O’Neil ([email protected]).
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