Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Engineering students Zumwalt, Rice and Olusola bring home Governor's Cup Honors

University of Oklahoma student teams won top honors, including the OG&E Positive Energy Award, at the 2011 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition in Oklahoma City on April 14. Students from OU’s Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth and the Price College of Business spent months developing business plans for real-world technologies that hope to create jobs for the state of Oklahoma.

"This sweeping victory in the Governor's Cup Competition is another example of OU's national leadership in business and entrepreneurship education in practical programs,” said OU President David L. Boren. “On behalf of the OU family, I congratulate all students who are members of our championship teams," he said.

Almost 40 teams from college campuses across the state were given the opportunity to write business plans and make a pitch for investments that can be used to implement their ideas. These teams competed for more than $120,000 in cash and prizes in the seventh annual Governor’s Cup competition, and OU teams swept the competition.

Simtra Tools was named the winner of the $7,000 OG&E Positive Energy Award, recognizing the team that developed the best business plan around energy generation, conservation, new delivery methods or other technology to enhance efficient energy use. Their plan focused around a technology that provides utility linemen a versatile tool called TrueTight that helps them easily tighten power lines to the correct tension without carrying more cumbersome and expensive equipment. The team was comprised of Brandon Mikael, team leader, and Matthew Huber and mentored by their Faculty Advisor Dr. Lowell Busenitz, Academic Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship in OU’s Price College.

Undergraduate Division winner was LumiDX, which developed a business plan around a novel diagnostic test, which detects up to five indications of upper respiratory infections in just 30 minutes. LumiDX team members were entrepreneurship senior Amy Henderson, team leader, Ashley Zumwalt, Mimi Nguyen and Kaelyn Lu. Jim Wheeler, Executive Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship in the Price College of Business was their faculty advisor. Team member Ashley Zumwalt was also awarded the Oklahoma Business Roundtable Paulsen Award Scholarship.

Lucas Rice was named as a 2011 i2E Fellow.

Winning first place in the Graduate Division was OU team CerebroGen Pharmaceuticals. The team’s plan was built around a new antibody-based drug treatment for epilepsy. CerebroGen was led by Entrepreneurship and Venture Management senior, Benjamin West, and comprised of Chase Roberts, Tobi Olusola, and Majed Gharfeh. The team’s Faculty advisor was Elaine Hamm, Director for the Office of Technology Development.

“We are so proud of all the OU teams. All their hard work and dedication has paid off,” said Jeff Moore, Executive Director of the Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth.

The teams are sponsored by OU’s Price College of Business and the Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth. The Price College of Business’ Entrepreneurship program was ranked 15th in the nation according to U.S. News & World. OU’s Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth provides an interdisciplinary environment for researchers, entrepreneurs, and students to collaborate in growing and diversifying Oklahoma’s economy through the nurturing of technology-based enterprises.

The goal of the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition is to encourage students of Oklahoma universities and colleges to act upon their entrepreneurial ideas and develop skills to lead tomorrow's innovative new businesses. The business plan competition is in its seventh year.

Tobi Olusola is a senior industrial engineering/pre-pharmacy major. Ashley Zumwalt is a senior petroleum engineering major. Lucas Rice is a senior industrial engineering major.

Read more: http://newsok.com/top-business-plans-in-oklahoma-governors-cup-competition-recognized-at-awards-dinner/article/3558558#ixzz1K1TmK5rn

Read more: http://oudaily.com/news/2011/apr/18/ou-snatches-first-place-business-competition/

Like the Donald W. Reynolds Governors Cup Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/OKGOVCUP#!/photo.php?fbid=10150159041223668&set=a.383151738667.162742.217510388667&type=1&theater

Friday, April 15, 2011

Engineers race to finish concrete canoe

Chase Cook/The Daily
Thursday, April 14, 2011

Stephen McCollam, mechanical engineering senior; Michael Hendrick, civil engineering junior; and Stephen Collins, civil engineering sophomore sand the sides of a canoe constructed with concrete. A team of engineering students built the canoe to compete in the regional of the National Concrete Canoe Competition on April 28 at Kansas State University.

Civil engineering junior Jason Kilpatrick leans over the side of a canoe on the first floor of the ExxonMobil Engineering Practice Facility. He works quickly to smooth out the side of the canoe before it dries. As he smooths the edges, part of the canoe starts to fall off.

“I need some more water over here — this part is falling off!” Kilpatrick says to one of his team members. The teammate sprays water on the crumbling area while Kilpatrick struggles with the thickening material in his hands.

Kilpatrick and his team are building a canoe for a national engineering competition, but they aren’t working with wood or plastic. Their canoe is built out of a concrete mixture passed down by previous teams.

The project is part of the National Concrete Canoe competition. Students build concrete canoes and compete in a mix of academia and athletics by racing and presenting the science behind each team’s canoe, civil engineering senior Jeremy Christiansen said.

Each team is graded on a technical paper, the boat’s display, an oral presentation and a series of races.

The team already completed its technical paper and the boat’s display — which provides a theme for the canoe and displays the materials used to construct it, Christiansen said. The team is hurrying to finish the oral presentation and the canoe before the regional competition begins April 28.

The body of the canoe is finished, but there is still a lot of work to do, Christiansen said. The team must complete the final outer layers of concrete to ensure the canoe doesn’t buckle from tension forces in the water. After that, the team will sand the canoe, Christiansen said.

During this process, the team has to ensure the canoe can handle the stresses of water, Christiansen said.

“Floating isn’t the most difficult part of building a concrete canoe,” Christiansen said. “Concrete wants to expand and buckle when submerged in water.”

To keep the canoe from buckling and to ensure it floats in the water, the canoe’s concrete mixture was formulated for strength and speed, Christiansen said.

Glass beads were mixed into a portland cement with fibers, additives, binders and water. The beads take up space and add strength without adding a lot of weight, Christiansen said.

The combination keeps the concrete light while giving it the strength to withstand the forces of water and passengers, Christiansen said.

The mixture does make the canoe light — two people can carry the canoe easily — but it still needs help to float in the water, Christiansen said.

At the front and back ends of the canoe are large sections of industrial foam. Teams can use as much foam and concrete as they want, and every team takes a different approach, Christiansen said.

“Last year, there was a team with an 800-pound canoe, and it floated,” he said. “But you have to remember you have to paddle that thing.”

Once the team completes all of the requirements for the contest, they will haul their creation to Kansas State University’s campus, where the regional competition will take place, architectural engineering senior Jenny Bergen said.

Bergen said she was primarily responsible for raising money to get the team to Kansas State. The trip will cost $9,000, she said.

Raising the money wasn’t difficult, Bergen said. The team sent out pamphlets, mailers and letters to firms across Oklahoma.

However, if the team makes it to the national level of the competition, it will need to travel to the University of Evansville in Indiana, Bergern said.

The trip will require an additional $6,000 in travel expenses, Bergen said. If the team makes it to nationals, members will have to contact alumni and firms for additional donations, Bergen said.

Even if the team doesn’t make it that far, Kilpatrick said the experience has been rewarding.

“I’ve learned things here that I can relate to my studies in my classes ... I can say, ‘Hey, I’ve actually done that before,’” Kilpatrick said.

OU students give back to J.D. McCarty Center

April 10, 2011
Meghan McCormick The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — A student organization from the University of Oklahoma found a way to give back to the Norman community on Saturday.

Members of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society arrived at the J.D. McCarty Center ready to plant a vegetable garden for patients. The center cares for children with developmental disabilities.

Zach Dunn, a member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, said the organization participates in a community service event each year.

“They had a job for us so we came out,” Dunn said.

Volunteers spent Saturday morning leveling the ground and creating a flat base for the garden. Students expected to plant produce in the afternoon.

Dunn said past projects have included helping residents with indoor and outdoor home repairs.

“We like giving back, it’s nice,” he said.

Jennifer Giamelle, J.D. McCarty Center volunteer coordinator, appreciated the group stepping up to help the center.

“They also bought a picnic table for our kids,” she said.

Giamelle said patients will use the garden as part of their therapy. Children will pull weeds and water plants.

“They will learn how to take care of the garden,” she said.

Giamelle said a summer camp expected to open in 2012 also will benefit from the garden.

“It’s something we will use in our summer camp as well,” she said.

Tiffany Smith, advisor for American Indian Science and Engineering Society, helped volunteers assemble the picnic table. She said this is the organization’s 10th year to volunteer for a project.

“Every year we do something different,” she said.

Smith said some of the materials were delivered to the site earlier in the week.

“It took a lot of planning to get this going,” she said.

Smith said the garden should produce watermelons, cantaloupes, strawberries, onions and tomatoes.

Meghan McCormick 366-3539 mmccormick@norman-transcript.com

Monday, April 11, 2011

OU Student Receives Goldwater Honor

April 11, 2011
CONTACT: The University of Oklahoma, Public Affairs, (405) 325-1701

NORMAN – University of Oklahoma honors student Eddie Shimp of McAlester has been named a 2011 Goldwater Scholar. His selection brings to 31 the number of OU students named to that honor since 1995 and places OU in the top ranks of universities nationally. The prestigious scholarships are awarded on the basis of potential and intent to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering.

“The entire university congratulates Eddie Shimp on this signal honor,” said OU President David L. Boren. “His selection continues OU’s national prominence in the selection of Goldwater Scholars in math and science.”

Shimp holds a 4.0 grade-point average and is a pursuing a degree in chemical engineering with an emphasis on biotechnology and a minor in mathematics. Currently working with David Schmidtke, director of the OU Bioengineering Center and associate professor of chemical, biological and materials engineering, Shimp has worked for a year on projects that deal with cell adhesion in the blood stream. This work can help with the prevention of blood cell clotting in vessels and potentially provide a method by which pharmaceuticals could more easily target certain parts of the body.

His plans this summer include preparing for an accelerated master’s degree program and continuing his current lab research. Following graduation, he plans to pursue a master’s degree in bioengineering, followed by a doctorate in biomedical engineering. His career plans include conducting research in biomedical engineering and teaching at the university level.

While at OU, Shimp has been awarded the OU Regents’ Scholarship, the College of Engineering Program of Excellence Scholarship, the School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering Program of Excellence Scholarship, and the Robert C. Byrd Scholarship. He also has received an Undergraduate Research Fellowship and the PACE Award recognizing freshmen for outstanding achievement. Additionally, he was named Outstanding Sophomore in Chemical Engineering and the Housing Center Student Association’s Outstanding Student Representative. Shimp has served the Housing Student Center Association as vice president and as General Counsel chair.

Also during this time at OU, Shimp has served as a delegate at the regional and national levels of the National Association of College and University Residence Halls Leadership Conference. Currently a Sooner Scout, Shimp is a member of the Engineers’ Club and the E-1 Club and has performed with the OU Symphony Band.

The national scholarship competition is conducted by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. The scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

McALESTER – Eddie Shimp, a junior majoring in chemical engineering, is the son of Valerie and Upton Shimp.

TULSA – Shimp is the grandson of John Burks.

Precious Water

Letter to the Editor of the Tulsa World:

By David Sabatini, Norman
Published: 4/10/2011 4:41 AM
Last Modified: 4/10/2011 4:41 AM

Natural disasters usually spark a rush of response. Hearing stories of a friend's daughter, who was in Japan when the tragedy struck and has since had trouble finding clean water, or from friends in New Zealand who had to dig a hole in their backyard for human waste because the sewage system was inoperable, makes us want to help.

However, we sometimes forget there are from 1 billion to 2 billion people who don't have access to safe drinking water - every day, not because of a natural disaster. World Water Day was March 22 and it raised awareness of these issues.

More than 2 million deaths a year occur in developing countries for those who never have access to safe drinking water - that translates to a child dying every 15 seconds due to lack of something we take for granted. In these countries, it's hard to develop as a nation when the majority of time is spent just trying to collect clean water to stay alive.

At the Water Center at the University of Oklahoma, we focus on long-term solutions to drinking water and sanitation challenges in developing countries. We raise awareness and research solutions to these issues. During spring break, OU engineering students traveled to Africa to help bring life-sustaining water to those in dire need. I'm encouraged by their motivation to make the world a better place by using engineering principles, creative solutions and their generosity to help others.

Editor's note: Sabatini is a University of Oklahoma College of Engineering professor.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/article.aspx?subjectid=62&articleid=20110410_62_G2_Natura570608

Friday, April 8, 2011

Hearing System is Totally Implantable

Apr 6, 2011 12:56 PM
By Rong Z. Gan, Professor of Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering - University of Oklahoma rgan@ou.edu

Biomedical researcher and University of Oklahoma Professor of Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering Rong Gan (right) listens as a colleague discusses auditory research.

Biomedical researcher and University of Oklahoma Professor of Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering Rong Gan (right) listens as a colleague discusses auditory research.

Editor’s note: The author led the University of Oklahoma research team responsible for the technology described in this article.

Challenges associated with developing the ideal implantable hearing device (fully implanted and acceptable by patients who are uncomfortable with conventional hearing aids) are three-fold: 1) minimize risks to patient’s hearing and nerves within the ear so that the driving system of the device fits the restrictions of the middle ear size with life-time function stability; 2) lower the costs associated with the development of the devices as well as surgical implantation so that implantable hearing devices can be compatible with conventional digital hearing aids in cost/benefit ratio; and 3) enhance efficacy of the device so that enough gain can be delivered to aid severe hearing loss within limitations of the capacity and recharging cycles of available batteries.

These challenges, however, appear to have been met with a newly developed totally implantable hearing system (TIHS) developed by a University of Oklahoma research team. Feasibility studies show the system capable of delivering acoustic vibrations to the middle ear ossicular chain or cochlea with minimal energy loss and distortion.

Designed for simpler surgery

While several implantable hearing devices equipped with electromagnetic or piezoelectric transducers have been investigated or developed in the US and Europe since 1990, these devices are often associated with surgical difficulty.

To overcome such difficulties, the University of Oklahoma team set out to design a system that achieves the following: minimal surgical impact on contacting nerves; no significant effect on the patient’s residual hearing; no sensation of the implant movement; and tolerance of variations in the patient’s anatomy and exact position achieved by the surgeon.

The preliminary design and function evaluation on the TIHS was completed using a 3D FE (finite element) model of the human ear and the temporal bones with laser Doppler vibrometry. The human ear model consists of accurate anatomic structures of the external ear canal, eardrum, middle ear ossicular chain, middle ear cavity, and the uncoiled cochlea. The location, orientation, and dimensions of the implant transducers including the implant magnet, ossicular attachment, and implantable coil, are determined in the model within the constraints of the middle ear and external ear canal anatomy. This model is used to conduct acoustic-structure-fluid coupled analysis as well as electromagnetic coupling.
Otologic and neuro-otologic surgeon Dr. Mark Wood examines Tony Howard, a patient with bi-lateral cochlear implants, who looks forward to an opportunity to benefit from a restorative totally implantable hearing systems under development at the University of Oklahoma.

Otologic and neuro-otologic surgeon Dr. Mark Wood examines Tony Howard, a patient with bi-lateral cochlear implants, who looks forward to an opportunity to benefit from a restorative totally implantable hearing systems under development at the University of Oklahoma.
FE model tests characterize the performance of an electromagnetic hearing device across the auditory frequency range including the following aspects: mass loading effect on residual hearing with the passive implant; efficiency of electromagnetic coupling between implanted coil and magnet; efficiency of the forward mechanical driving (the actuator implanted in ossicles) and reverse driving (the actuator placed on round window membrane); and function characterization of whole unit in response to acoustic input across the skin (implantable microphone).

The mechanism of acoustic-electrical-mechanical transmission in the TIHS is typical of electromagnetic-type transducers used in middle ear implantable hearing devices. The assembly of the implantable (or transcutaneous) microphone, DSP/audio signal processor and rechargeable battery, and the RF controlled system of the TIHS utilize the technologies similar to other such devices. However, the coil and implant transducer design and the transcanal surgical approach for implantation are different from other implantable middle ear hearing devices.

The TIHS is much simpler than other middle ear implantable hearing devices in design, manufacturing, and surgical implantation. Thus, this technology may reduce both the surgical cost of middle ear implantable device and the cost of manufacturing them.


The TIHS consists of an implant transducer (magnet) placed on the middle ear ossicles, an implantable coil placed under the ear canal bony wall, an assembly of implantable microphone, DSP-audio signal processor (sound amplifier) and rechargeable battery placed in the sub-postcranial area under the skin, and a remote control unit with a battery charger as the external components.

Figure 1. Schematic of the TIHS in the right ear.

Figure 2. Block diagram of acoustic-electric-mechanical signal transmission of the TIHS.

Figure 1 is a schematic of the TIHS in the ear with implant transducer attached to the ossicles and the coil implanted under the canal wall (the external parts are not shown). The block diagram of Figure 2 displays the acoustic-electrical-mechanical signal transmission of the TIHS. Sound signals are received by an implantable microphone and converted as electrical analog signals. The analog signals are then converted as digital signals and amplified through the DSP/audio signal processor, and finally input to the coil. The interaction between electromagnetic fields of the coil and implant magnet induces the vibration of the ossicles. Therefore, the performance of TIHS is described by the movement of the stapes, which can be derived from the FE model of the ear and measured in human cadaver ears or temporal bones.

Figure 3. Implant transducer Model I with coil placed under the ear canal.

Two implant transducers: Model I and Model II are designed to meet different patient hearing situations. Implant Model I is designed for the ears with normal ossicular chain (Figure 3). The implant is attached to the long process of the incus and the head of stapes with the ossicular attachment made from Nitinol, a shape-memory biocompatible alloy material; the implantable coil is placed in the ear canal wall. A good alignment between the implant magnet and coil within ± 5 degrees was achieved through the design with the model. The permanent magnet (e.g., Neodymium-iron boron Nd2Fe14B) is hermetically sealed inside a titanium canister.

Figure 4. Implant transducer Model II with coil placed under the ear canal.

Implant Model II is specified for the ears with disrupted ossicular chain. For the case of missing of the incus, Figure 4 shows the implant Model II as an assembly of the implant magnet and ossicular attachment placed or fixed between the malleus and stapes from the posterior-medial view. The design completed in FE model ensures the alignment of the coil and implant magnet. The implant Model II functions as active incus replacement or active partial ossicular replacement prosthesis (PORP), driven by electromagnetic coupling between the implant magnet and coil. The coil is hermetically sealed inside a titanium canister and implanted in the posterior side of the ear canal bony wall for both Models I and II.


The advantages of the TIHS are many. With it, there is no mastoidectomy, facial recess, and manipulation of ossicular chain during the implantation of TIHS. The ossicular attachment made of the shape-memory material eliminates the destruction of the ossicles. The implantation of the coil under the ear canal wall as the trans-canal surgical approach is commonly accepted by otologic surgeons. The assembly of the implantable microphone, audio/DSP signal processor with RF telemetry assembly, and rechargeable battery is a sub-postcranial pocket and will be implanted in the post-cranial area under the skin.

These advantages make it possible for a forward-thinking company to apply this well-tested technology with a good benefit-to-cost ratio and move it from prototype to finished product. Then, 38 million Americans who have moderate-to-severe sensorineural hearing loss will have an opportunity to have restored what most of us take for granted.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Paul McEuen's 'Spiral' Had Oklahoma Roots

Cornell physicist Paul McEuen's first techno-thriller novel “Spiral” had Oklahoma roots.

BY DAVID ZIZZO dzizzo@opubco.com Oklahoman
Published: March 22, 2011

Paul McEuen is curious about a lot of stuff. Tiny drums and the end of the world, for instance.

"Spiral" book cover Provided by Random House Publishing - Provided by Random House Publish

I thought, ‘I can write something about nano stuff that would be a little bit closer to the truth and still be exciting.'” Paul McEuen

As a physics professor and nanoscience researcher at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., McEuen, 47, has stretched atom-thick graphene paper to make, and even play, a microscopic drum, a process that might someday change microelectronics.

“We call that science, interestingly enough,” he said.

And the world-ending thing? That's more of a creative flight of fantasy, one McEuen has taken at least twice. The first time was when he was 12, growing up in south Oklahoma City.

“He wrote a kind of dark, blow-up-the-world kind of poem,” his mother, Mary Lu McEuen, of Oklahoma City, recalled.

Joe McEuen, his father, remembers Paul as a “semi-nerd,” a normal kid with friends and a social life but who also was whip-smart and loved to read, especially “high-end sci-fi.”

“We never tried to push him one way or another,” Joe McEuen said. “Just encouraged him to go where he felt led.”

Paul McEuen remembers his poem was “narrated by the last person on Earth, in the process of dying,” he said. “Shows you where my head was at.”

Channeling passion

Now 35 years later, McEuen has sort of returned to that theme in his latest dark imaginings. The intellectual exercise indulges his creative side, the part of him that likes to wander off alone, to get away from his other passion, hard science. The part that loves to write.

The result was “Spiral,” a novel, if not about the end of the world, about what might present a threat of that possibility. In it, according to a review in The New York Times, an Asian evildoer snatches a Nobel winner to enlist the laureate's “microcrawler” spiderlike nanobots in a terrorist attack involving a deadly biological pathogen. Standing between the world and disaster by fungus is, spoiler alert, a Cornell physics professor.

The idea had been crawling around in McEuen's head since he read “Prey,” a novel about nanobots gone wild written by the late Michael Crichton. A longtime fan of Crichton, McEuen thought the techno-thriller heavyweight author stretched the science “a little too far,” overreaching into the realm of fiction.

“‘Prey' sort of missed the mark a little bit,” he said.

That started the microwheels turning. The job of a thriller writer is to find “something really dangerous” and then wind a feasible tale with it, McEuen said. Nanobots could be good vectors, but a biological agent, now that was a believable scourge, he decided.

“I thought, ‘I can write something about nano stuff that would be a little bit closer to the truth and still be exciting,'” McEuen said.

According to the Times, he succeeded. “It's actually better than a lot of what Mr. Crichton wrote once his prime was over,” the reviewer concluded.

The book has been optioned for a movie, but it's a long way from the screen. Meanwhile, McEuen will continue with his science. And his writing.

“I actually like doing both,” he said. “They sort of use different parts of my brain, and they feed on each other.”

Read more: http://newsok.com/paul-mceuens-spiral-had-oklahoma-roots/article/3549913#ixzz1IetDN1Ti