Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mistree Honored By ASME For Furthering Engineering Design Education


NEW YORK, Aug. 15, 2011 – Farrokh Mistree, Ph.D., a resident of Purcell, Okla., and professor at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, will be honored by ASME. He is being recognized for lifelong dedication and numerous contributions to the engineering design community, particularly for instilling a passion for design in generations of students as an inspirational advisor and mentor. He will receive the Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Design Educator Award.

The award, established in 1998, recognizes a person who exemplifies the best in furthering engineering design education through vision, interactions with students and industry, scholarship and impact on the next generation of engineers, and a person whose action serves as a role model for other educators to emulate. It will be presented to Dr. Mistree during the International Design Engineering Technical Conference to be held in Washington, D.C., Aug. 28 through 31.

Mistree has spent his career pursuing his passion: to have fun in defining the emerging discipline of complex systems, in defining new education paradigms anchored in competency-based education that encourages students to pursue careers in academia, and in providing an opportunity for highly motivated and talented people to learn how to define and achieve their dreams. As an ardent educator, researcher, technical leader, advisor and mentor, Mistree has inspired countless students to study engineering design and, more importantly, to learn how to learn.

Since serving as a lecturer/senior lecturer (1976-81) at the University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia), Mistree’s research accomplishments are embodied in the twin scholarships of design integration and design education. His current research focus is on learning to manage uncertainty in multiscale design (from molecular to reduced order models) to facilitate the integrated design of materials, product and design process chains. Currently, Mistree is focusing on creating and implementing, in partnership with industry, a curriculum for educating strategic engineers—those who have developed the competencies to create value through the realization of complex engineered systems.

Following his affiliation with the University of New South Wales, Mistree was an associate professor (1981-87) and professor (1987-1992) at the University of Houston before joining the faculty at the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. At Georgia Tech (1992-2009), Mistree served as the founding director of the Systems Realization Laboratory (1992-97). Founded by Drs. Allen, Bras, Rosen and Mistree, this was the first occurrence of faculty in the Woodruff School volunteering to share to gain and adopting principles of governance embodied in a Learning Organization as proffered by Dr. Peter M. Senge. The members of this laboratory sought colleagues with a dream and a passion for making a difference by becoming the thought leaders of tomorrow.

After retiring from Georgia Tech as professor emeritus in August 2009, Mistree joined the University of Oklahoma (OU), Norman, where he is professor, director of the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, and L.A. Comp chair. Working with his OU family and others in the OU community, he focuses on developing a curriculum anchored in experiential learning.

Mistree has supervised 28 doctoral students and more than 50 master’s students, all of whom are well-placed around the world; 12 of his doctoral students are pursuing highly successful careers in academia. In addition, he has mentored two students, one master’s and one doctoral, who now own several for-profit colleges in Orissa, India.

He has co-authored two textbooks; one monograph; and more than 350 technical papers covering the design of mechanical and structural systems, ships and aircraft, as well as more than 30 dealing exclusively with education.

An ASME Fellow, Mistree served as chair of the Design Engineering Division’s (DED) Honors and Awards Committee (1997-2003), co-general chair for the 1998 Design Engineering Technical Conferences, and conference papers chair for the 1994 ASME Design Theory and Methodology Conference. The DED honored him with Distinguished Service awards in 1998 and 2003, and the Design Automation Award in 1999.

Mistree received his bachelor’s of technology in naval architecture, with honors, at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, in 1967. He earned his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1970 and 1974, respectively.

About ASME
ASME helps the global engineering community develop solutions to real world challenges. Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines, while promoting the vital role of the engineer in society. ASME codes and standards, publications, conferences, continuing education and professional development programs provide a foundation for advancing technical knowledge and a safer world.

Friday, August 26, 2011

University of Oklahoma engineering teams have successful summer

Engineering competition teams from the University of Oklahoma had successful showings at regional and national competitions this summer.

Published: August 25, 2011

NORMAN — Thomas Ingram and other members of the University of Oklahoma's Sooner Racing Team scrambled to fix their car.

They had just finished the first of four runs during an acceleration test at the Formula SAE-West competition in Fontana, Calif.

It was obvious the car's engine wasn't running at peak performance, said Ingram, the team's captain.

Students had about an hour to diagnose the problem, solve it and make their last three runs. Turns out, the fuel filter wasn't working properly, which caused problems with one of the fuel injectors. Despite the glitch, the team finished 10th in the event and second overall at the competition. Judges evaluated students on their performance in several areas, including endurance and cost analysis.

Successful summer

The team's overall second-place performance was one of several successes OU engineering students had this summer.

The Sooner Racing Team designs, manufactures and races a new car every year. OU is ranked fourth among about 460 teams worldwide, Ingram said. The team has about 20 students from a variety of majors, including business, zoology and film studies.

Students try to raise about $65,000 to $75,000 a year just to build their car and travel to a competition, Ingram said.

Ingram, a mechanical engineering senior from Broken Arrow, said he has gained a variety of skills, including teamwork. He's also had an opportunity to meet students from around the world. During recent years, the Sooner Racing Team has traveled to Germany and Virginia for competitions.

Hungry to compete

The team is excited for this year, Ingram said. So are members of OU's Concrete Canoe team, which recently placed 12th at the 2011 American Society of Civil Engineers' National Concrete Canoe Competition in Evansville, Ind.

Cassie Gonzales, one of the team captains, remembers watching the national competition in 2010 and wishing her team had qualified to participate. OU students placed second at their regional competition that year, just shy of qualifying for the national event. Gonzales and a few other team members traveled to California to watch.

“After getting that taste, we were ready,” said Gonzales, 21, a civil engineering senior from Flower Mound, Texas. “We worked really hard this past year.”

The team qualified and sent about 20 students to the national competition this summer. In addition to placing 12th overall, the students placed sixth in an oral portion of the competition.

Gonzales said she has learned skills from the concrete canoe team that she otherwise wouldn't learn until graduate school. She has also gained experience collaborating, networking and public speaking.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

OU College of Enginering Hosts Open House of Practice Facility

The University of Oklahoma College of Engineering is hosting an Open House of the ExxonMobil Lawrence G. Rawl Engineering Practice Facility from 3 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3 from 3 to 6 p.m. Come meet members of our competitive teams including the Sooner Racing Team; Concrete Canoe; Design, Build, Fly; and Sooner Powered Vehicle to name a few.

The Practice Facility is located at the corner of Felgar Street and Jenkins Avenue. We look forward to seeing you there.

Visit us on the Web:

Monday, August 8, 2011

School of Dreams Academy Robotics Team Named International Rookie of the Year

Written by Deborah Fox/News-Bulletin
Photo courtesy of Rita Garcia
July 23, 2011
School of Dreams Academy's state Botball champions competed in the 2011 International Botball tournament and Global Conference on Educational Robotics July 12 in Garden Grove, Calif.

Photo courtesy of Rita Garcia: The School of Dreams Academy state champion Botball team visits the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology during their stay in California for the 2011 International Botball Tournament. Pictured, from left, are Danielle Garcia, Chloe Grubb and Abel Romero, who are checking themselves out on the video screen of an infrared heat-sensing camera.

They won the judge's Rookie of the Year award. Not bad when you consider the competitors they were up against.
In the students' first year in Botball, they took the state by surprise when they won overall first place in Las Cruces in April. Now they are recognized as Rookie of the Year internationally.

"There were over 500 kids and maybe 60 teams from all over the place," said Eric Brown, the robotics coach and life sciences teacher. "The east coast, to the west coast, to Hawaii; there was a team from Poland, and Austria, from all over the place. It was a great competition."

The SODA students were able to study robots that were 10 and 15 years in the making, upping their ante.
"They saw that it was a different level," Brown said. "They were really impressed."

Botball robots are unique in that they are autonomous robots. They are not remotely controlled as in the BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) robotics competitions, but are programmed by students to perform a task on their own.
Botball teaches real-life programming and software development as well as valuable teamwork skills, project documentation, and working on a schedule.

It is the brainchild of KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) Institute, a nonprofit educational organization in Norman, Okla. that uses hands-on robotics programs to communicate the knowledge and practical understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, as it's known to educators.

"They didn't place as far as the top teams or the finalists in the competition, but they were voted by the KIPR (KISS Institute for Practical Robotics) as the rookie team of the year," Brown said. "They scored very high on their oral presentations, all their preliminary work — the work that they had to submit before the competition — to their design. They did really good, and I'm very proud of them."

The students were impressed by the robots of the competing teams, and learned a lot in an atmosphere of camaraderie, Brown said.

"They met some good people there that helped them out with some programming," he said. "They had a good time."

During the trip the students visited the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. It's the leading U.S. center for robotic exploration, where they design and build the land rovers for NASA, and Mars exploration, and our weather satellites, said Kerra Howe, a parent who went along on the trip to chaperone.

"We got a behind-the-scenes tour," said Brown. "We got to see the prototype of the rover that's going to land on Mars. The kids asked some awesome, awesome questions. I was really impressed with their questions."

"We have a group of students who were focused on a career in engineering and sciences before visiting JPL," said Howe. "Now they're very interested in finding more information to go after careers in those fields."

One student, Denton Shaver, has an uncle who is an engineer at JPL. He arranged a special tour of the facility for the students.
"It was more personal as far as the one-on-one with the students," Howe said. "They got to go to different areas on the campus that haven't been visited by other schools. They got to see the 'Curiosity Rover,' the next Mars rover that will be launched in November."

Students saw movies about previous missions to Mars, and enjoyed interactive exhibits on the solar system and Earth sciences.
In the 3D simulation building, students were treated to virtual science.

"You had to wear 3D glasses to see the movie simulation of Earth processes," Rita Garcia, another parent, said. "It definitely captured their interest."

They also viewed a satellite launch control room.

"The students went to seminars and got to hear from college professors about robotics," said Howe. "How it helps our society in everything from elderly care to people with disabilities."

"They were able to see how the basics learned in Botball apply to real-life robotics," said Garcia. "And they got a sneak peek of the new equipment for upcoming competitions."

Scoring of the competition is based on a point system. The winning robot was from a team in Hawaii that averaged 500 points a round.

SODA's scores were considerably lower, but were encouraging to the team's coach.

"We're almost there to that level, and this is our first year, so we're looking forward to next year and being able to compete," said Brown.

Some of the sponsors of the competition included NASA, the Office of Naval Research, Northrop Grumman Foundation, iRobot, Solid Works, Cisco, University of Oklahoma College of Engineering.

For information about Botball, visit

Money Majors

Some degree paths offer better employment opportunities than others.


When children are young, parents tell them that they can do anything they want to when they grow up, as long as they do the best job they can do. When those children land in college, parents change their tunes. Kids have learned to do the best they can do. Now it’s about having the best job they can have. Getting that job makes living in the jungle – that place graduates reach on the other side of the stage after picking up their diplomas – a lot easier.

Only 10 percent of students are employed immediately following graduation. Roughly 75 percent are employed within six months of leaving school. Those numbers could be better if students had the right degrees.

Experts from three of Oklahoma’s top universities know what those degrees are.

The common quality these degrees share is the placement of graduates in positions and fields that are in demand. Engineers design, make and manage complex things that keep the wheels of society rolling. There will never be a drop in demand for health care workers. And Americans rely on businesses more than any country on earth to provide the goods and services we need (and want). Even in today’s rough economy, business degrees reliably translate into jobs.

Engineering is consistently at the top of experts’ lists of in-demand degrees. As a field, engineering pays well and it’s resilient, almost recession-proof. Many new engineers are seeing higher salaries now than ever before.

“There’s been a robust and fairly sustained market for engineers, particularly for petroleum and geological engineering, which, for Oklahoma, is great. And for electrical and computer engineering. Any engineer that has the capability to work with technology, hardware and software development, is in a good spot,” says Nancy Mergler, senior vice president and provost at the University of Oklahoma.

As an occupation, engineering also has an advantage of being a field in which its practitioners is flexibility. Good schools make sure that students learn at least some aspects of the basic engineering principles that can be applied across any engineering disciplines.

The only thing hotter than an engineering degree is an engineering degree with an MBA stapled to it. To understand the science behind something and grasp the workings of the business where it’s applied – that’s gold to most employers, sources say.

Health Care
While the health care field often requires specialization, the field is also incredibly broad, offering opportunities to everybody with the right degrees and training – whether they’re speech therapists or neurologists. In fact, experts generally feel that health care related degrees and subsequent job opportunities are the most recession proof of all options.

“There’s a continuing market for individuals who are interested in health care related fields. Many of those students do need advanced degrees. Not all, but some. The nursing market, for example, is very strong,” says Mergler.

The nursing field is so hot that Oklahoma’s practically gone to war with Kansas and Texas to bring in the best nurses. As a result, those nursing salaries aren’t too bad. Once all that school gets paid off, it’s all gravy, experts intimate.

“Engineering and business are hot areas right now. Agriculture is doing well, too. But business and engineering are tops right now. The top business degree is accounting. There are a lot of companies that, after the whole Sarbanes-Oxley deal, need accountants and people who can work with auditors and watch the money. If students get degrees in one of those two fields, they probably won’t have any trouble finding employment,” says Pam Ehlers, Oklahoma State University’s director of career services.

Mergler notes that the demand for business students has softened a bit, but fully expects a turnaround.

“A couple of years ago, finance and accounting were really hot. There’s been a little bit of change that might have to do with the stock market. I fully expect them to recover. We can’t survive without people that are finance and marketing and management. We need those folks. That market will recover. This is just a temporary dip,” she says.

One thing business degrees share with engineering and health care degrees is that having one in hand means a graduate has trained specifically to work in that field. Unless a graduate plans on pursuing an academic career, the same can’t be said for liberal arts degrees, currently the least successful in the job market.

“Accounting is doing well. It’s one of the fields where you’re getting a degree to prepare to go to work in that field. Those are the ones that are doing well right now,” says helly HollySr, the University of Tulsa’s director of career services.

All is not lost for graduates with other degrees, though. Ehlers emphasizes that any student can improve his chance of employment by gathering work experience while in school.

“If you’re going to go major in history or philosophy and you’re not going to work and get some work experience while you’re going to school, it’s going to be extremely difficult for you to get any kind of professional job when you graduate,” she says.

Getting the job quickly is as important as becoming the job at all. Schools are getting more and more expensive. The average graduate drags $23,000 of loans into the jungle with him. Getting rid of them means finding that job. And that has everything to do with the degree a graduate holds. But a graduate has to want to use that degree, too.

“Fifty percent of graduates spend only one year in the job they take first. They leave because they don’t like it or want to try something else,” says Holly.

Still, it’s better to have a job to leave than to not have one at all.

This article appears in the August 2011 issue of Oklahoma Magazine

OU Men's Gymnastics Season in Review

Greg Fewell/The Daily
Monday, May 9, 2011

Senior Stephen Legendre performs his floor routine in a meet this season. Legendre won the prestigious Nissen-Emery Award, presented annually to the nation’s top senior gymnast. (Ty Russell/OU Athletic Department)

The Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team has steadily become one of the top programs in the nation. With three NCAA titles already under its belt, the program was already one of the elites in the nation when current head coach Mark Williams took over in 2000. Since then, however, Williams has taken the program to the next level.

In his 12 seasons at Oklahoma, Williams has led the men’s gymnastics program to five national titles — 2002, '03, '05, '06 and '08. On top of that, the men now have four national runner-up finishes. The numbers alone speak volumes about the program. The Sooners are now a gaudy 270-25 under Williams with 17 individual national champions, 103 All-America honors, eight conference titles and three Nissen-Emery Award winners.

The one stat the gymnasts and coaches care the most about, though, is the number of team national titles the program has brought back to Norman. For the select few programs in the nation on the level of Oklahoma gymnastics, bringing home the NCAA title is the goal at the beginning of every season, and this season was no different for the Sooners.

With maybe the best all-around lineup in the country — including Nissen-Emery Award winner senior Stephen Legendre and U.S. Senior National team members sophomores Jacob Dalton and Alex Naddour — the Sooners looked poised to run the table this year on the way to the program’s ninth national title. The team did not just look good on paper, either — when the season started, OU quickly showed the nation what it was capable of. The Sooners opened up competition by easily taking down Air Force and Nebraska, two top-10 opponents, at the Rocky Mountain Open.

Then, after winning the open for the 12th year in a row, Oklahoma went on to beat a string of top-10 opponents, all capped off on Feb. 19 with wins over No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 California in Palo Alto, Calif. The victory gave the Sooners the No. 1 ranking, and from there, the team coasted to victories over Michigan, Penn State and Illinois — three of the nation’s perennial powerhouses — to complete its perfect season. Even after a close disappointing loss to conference foe Nebraska at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships, Williams felt confident his team could bounce back.

“Well, it’s disappointment to go in expecting to win a conference championship, but it wasn’t over in terms of our season,” Williams said. “It ought to get them a little fired up for our training for NCAAs, recognize that we can’t take things for granted, maybe get back to the gym and adjust the training schedule to address the problem that we had.

In the qualifying round of the national championships, it appeared the team had done just that, finishing first with a score of 363.500, the second-highest score of the season for the Sooners. However, the team could not repeat its performance for the final round of the championships. OU’s final-round score of 361.600 fell just short of Stanford’s 363.450, and the Sooners were forced to take home the title of runner-up yet again.

While the second-place finish came as somewhat of a disappointment for the Sooners, the team still realizes what an accomplishment it is to finish so high on the podium.

“We couldn’t fight off Stanford, and they are very deserving of the title,” Williams said. Things also look to be quite bright for the Sooners next season. While the Sooners do lose five seniors, including Legendre and Ian Jackson who both had major contributions to the team, they also return a ridiculous amount of talent to next year’s lineup. In fact, of the five Sooners that earned spots in this year’s individual NCAA championships, three of them were only sophomores. Troy Nitzky joined Naddour and Dalton in this year’s individual finals. Those three will return next year to lead a very strong and very young group of Sooners on what they hope will be a slightly more successful national title run.

While Oklahoma’s national title hopes will have to wait at least one more year, at least three gymnasts from this year’s team have a lot to look forward to this summer. Senior Steven Legendre and sophomores Jacob Dalton and Alex Naddour will all be competing internationally for the U.S. men’s Senior National team. The three will get the chance to get better by taking on some of the top gymnastics teams in the entire world. The fact that so many Sooners are on the U.S. national team is a testament to just how dominant Oklahoma is in the sport of gymnastics. That being said, while the program does lose some amazing seniors from this year’s team, Williams has shown multiple times in his years at OU that the program is very capable of reloading. With his recruiting and the huge wealth of talent returning, the Sooners should continue to compete for the national title not just next year, but for many years to come.

Project Helps Earn Teen Eagle Scout Status

July 16, 2011
By Jocelyn Pedersen
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Slaughterville’s Anthony Strevett recently earned his Eagle Scout award.

The son of Keith and Stacy Strevett of Slaughterville, who will turn 15 this month, has been a member of the Boy Scouts of America for about four years. He said most scouts don’t make Eagle until they are over 16 years old, but he didn’t want to wait.

“I didn’t want to rush at the last minute to make Eagle,” Strevett said. “I wanted to get my Eagle long before that so I could do it well.”

Eagle Scout is the highest rank in scouting. Strevett said earning Eagle is a chance to experience leadership. Part of the qualifying process requires that the scout completes a community service project that they take on themselves.

Strevett’s project was to survey Turnbull Cemetery in Atoka, which is a Choctaw Indian cemetery. He said he went around and surveyed head and footstones, came home and geo-referenced them in degrees, minutes and seconds on a map. The purpose was to preserve the locations of the head and footstones. Because they were so old, authorities feared weather would destroy them.

This major undertaking took several months to complete. Strevett received his Eagle Scout rank in April, 2011, but first, he had to have his project approved by the Last Frontier Council’s Eagle Board of Review. The board approved his project in November 2009. Then he actually did the surveying all in one day on June 1, 2010.

“It was a long day,” Strevett said. “We drove down at 4 a.m. and came back about 10 p.m.”

Strevett said there were many other people who helped him at the cemetery by weed eating and cleaning up to facilitate the surveying process.

Strevett said his father, Keith Strevett, is a professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Oklahoma, who does surveying as a sideline. Keith Strevett brought his surveying equipment to the cemetery to help his son. They used a laser that sent signals out to mirrors, and then reflected the signal back to the GPS, which was situated on a benchmark set by the United States Geological Survey.

Anthony Strevett’s interest in this project was due, in part, to his dad. He explained that Jim Power, cemetery caretaker, approached one of his dad’s colleagues, OU’s Dr. Knox, about the cemetery project.

Eventually, Keith Strevett told his son about the venture, and Anthony thought it would make a good Eagle Scout project.

Anthony said his next scouting goal is to achieve Eagle Palm status. Through his many scouting endeavors, Strevett says he feels scouting has helped him learn to interact with strangers.

“Before I was very shy,” Strevett said. “I have met so many new people and have gotten rid of that shy thing.”