Monday, March 19, 2012

Engineering Smart Embankments and Other Earthwork

OU College of Engineering Researchers to Receive National Award

NORMAN, Okla. – University of Oklahoma College of Engineering researchers are being recognized for their research in the field of civil engineering, specifically how a new generation of polymeric products used in geotechnical projects (called Sensor-Enabled Geosynthetics, or SEG) could help monitor deformations in such earthen structures as embankments and retaining walls as they happen.

Kianoosh Hatami, Brian P. Grady and Matthew C. Ulmer will accept the Thomas A. Middlebrooks Award in March at the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Geo-Institute annual conference in Oakland, Calif. The award recognizes peer-reviewed, technical papers worthy of special commendation of merit as a contribution to the field of geotechnical engineering.

“Landslides and slope failures along roads, highways, and other public and private properties in the United States cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually. An important element in monitoring structures is to keep track of deformations over their service life and during extreme events such as earthquakes,” Hatami said. “Our research would allow engineers to detect unacceptable deformations and decide when to retrofit or repair earthen structures before they have moved so much they could collapse.

“As we continue tests in our labs and work with our industrial partners to improve the accuracy and reliability of SEG materials, the construction industry as well as the designers and owners of different infrastructure projects will have an increased interest in using these SEG products for health-monitoring of roads, bridges, retaining walls, and highway slopes and embankments, among many other applications,” he added.

The team began their research with a competitive seed-funding award from the OU College of Engineering in 2006 and is now funded through the National Science Foundation and the OU Office of the Vice President of Research’s Faculty Challenge Grant award to move forward into the research and development phase, improving accuracy and reliability of the data as well as fabrication techniques. Hatami and Grady also were awarded a U.S. patent on the SEG technology last summer.

Student researchers on the team also have been recognized for their contributions. In addition to Ulmer, who is a recipient of the Middlebrooks Award, Atefeh Fathi, who recently graduated with her master of science degree in civil engineering, won the top prize for the student poster competition at the Geo-Frontiers 2011 conference in Dallas.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

King and Queen Crowned, Students Recognized During 99th Annual Engineers Banquet at OU

By Karen Kelly
OU College of Engineering

NORMAN, Okla. – Feb. 19 to 25 is a special week in the life of engineering students, engineers in the workplace and government agencies. National Engineers Week, created in 1951 by the National Society for Professional Engineers, is an annual celebration scheduled in conjunction with President George Washington’s birthday; Washington is considered an engineer because of his competency as a surveyor.

No, it wasn’t St. Patrick’s Day yet, but it looked like it, as everything was coming up green shamrocks at the University of Oklahoma. E-Week enjoys a rich tradition here, transplanted in1914 by a new member of OU’s faculty from the University of Missouri at Columbia, where the Irish influence began.

Senior architectural engineering student from Oklahoma City and E-Week chair, Alyse Burgess, led the 2012 E-Week festivities. The week-long celebration featured record-breaking participation by OU engineering students in events that included a Road Rallye, Engineering Quiz Bowl, Games Tournament, Engineers Got Talent, E-Olympics, blood drive and ice cream social. The week concluded in a banquet Saturday night, where OU Engineering student life was celebrated and student service work and outstanding achievements were recognized.

Senior electrical engineering student from Ft. Worth, David Vreeland, served as the master of ceremonies. College of Engineering Dean Thomas Landers welcomed guests, saying, “I am pleased to see all of you here this evening. This record turnout is due in large part to the efforts of our students and the enthusiasm of everyone who has the privilege to be a part of OU Engineering.”

Carl Sondergeld, professor and Mewbourne Chair in the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering, received the Brandon H. Griffith Award, established in 1969 in honor of Professor Griffith and presented in observance of excellence in teaching.

Amy Piper, student services coordinator and liaison in the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, received the Cherry Griffith Award, established in 2005 in honor of Cherry Griffith, a devoted advocate for students in the College of Engineering. Griffith is recognized for her extraordinary support for students.

E-Club and Loyal Knights of Old Trusty faculty adviser and assistant professor in the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science, Chris Ramseyer, acknowledged LKOT members in an annual ceremony. Students who were recognized included Carly Young, a senior aerospace engineering student from Paris, Ark.; Brad Perry, senior mechanical engineering student from Yukon; Jason Kilpatrick, senior civil engineering student from Flower Mound, Texas; Will Nichols, senior petroleum engineering student from Edmond; Cassie Gonzales, senior civil engineering student from Flower Mound; Jason Pina, senior chemical engineering student from Roosevelt, Okla. and Kaylie Branstetter, senior chemical engineering student from Pryor.

The evening concluded with the coronation of the E-Week King and Queen. Logan Klein, a junior electrical engineering student from Dallas, was named King. Colleen Shappee, a junior civil engineering student from Houston, was crowned Queen.

The banquet was sponsored by the Occidental Petroleum Corp. and by Cameron Corp. E-Week premier corporate sponsors were Baker Hughes, Chevron, Schlumberger and Williams. E-Week sponsors were Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, International Paper, the Linde Group, LyondellBasell, Newfield, ONEOK, Shell, Unit Corp., the University of Oklahoma Student Association and the OU College of Engineering.

Five Awards for Aspirations in Computing Presented During Engineers Banquet at OU

NORMAN, Okla. – National, regional and educator awards were presented to Oklahoma high school students and an educator by the National Center for Women and Technology during a banquet held Feb. 25 at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. The banquet culminated a week-long celebration of National Engineers Week at the University of Oklahoma College of Engineering.

The National Center for Women and Technology annually presents national and regional Awards for Aspirations in Computing to high school girls and educators who are interested in computing.

The national winner received a $400 cash prize from the Oklahoma Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, along with the prizes awarded to the regional winners. Regional winners received a $200 award from EPSCoR and a $250 prize from the OU College of Engineering and the School of Computer Science.

Receiving regional awards were:
• Brooke Daugherty, a high school freshman from Gracemont, who hopes to attend

the Oklahoma School of Science and Math and would like to study aeronautical engineering at the U.S. Naval Academy,
• Jessica Hooker, a high school junior from Southwest Covenant Schools in Yukon, who plans to study medicine in college and
• Ashley Arnold, a senior from North High School in Edmond, who plans to study biology in college and has aspirations of becoming a teacher.

Katrina Hammonds, a home school senior from Oklahoma City, received the national award. She plans to study aeronautical engineering or one of several computer science-related fields.

The Aspirations in Computing Educator Award, which comes with $1,000 of professional development funds, went to Debra Smith at Gracemont High School. Smith has taught computer technology for 19 years, the past four at Gracemont. She holds a master’s degree, is a master trainer and also serves as the technology coordinator and chair of the Technology Committee for the district. “I believe it is important to challenge my students and encourage them to exceed beyond their expectations,” said Smith upon receiving the award.

The awards were sponsored by the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics, the Bank of Oklahoma and the OU College of Engineering.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Graduate students show off research and artwork at competition

OU Daily
Sam Higgins, Campus Reporter | March 4, 2012

Photo by Sam Higgins
Rouzbeh Ghabchi, civil engineering and environmental science graduate student, stands next to his presentation, Environmentally Friendly Asphalt Technologies for Pavement Applications, during the Student Research and Performance Day Friday in the National Weather Center. Ghabchi's reaserch is focused on finding cheaper and more environmentally friendly methods for laying asphalt.

Graduate students presented their research Friday to judges in an effort to win money and have their research evaulated by OU faculty, staff and undergraduate students.

The Graduate College Student Research and Performance Day held at the National Weather Center divided graduate students into four divisions: Education and Fine Arts and Humanities (which is one division), Engineering, Science, and Social Science. The students in each division presented their research or artwork to three judges. Each of the four divisions had a cash prize of $100 for second-place winners, $200 for first-place winners and $150 for the winner of the McNair Scholars prize, all of which will be announced by email on Friday.

The judging panel was comprised OU faculty and staff as well as undergraduate participants in the McNair Scholar Program.

Graduate College dean Lee Williams oversaw the event and said the program is beneficial because it provides opportunities for graduate students to be evaluated by their peers who may perform research in other fields.

“Having the ability to explain to another intelligent person from a different research area or discipline what you’re working on in a way they can understand is an important skill,” Williams said. “Increasingly we need to have the ability to justify and explain our work to a much broader audience the nature of our work and the importance of our work.”

Price College of Business doctoral student Hyo Jin Jeon said she used information she has gathered since she was a sophomore from China and India to investigate the cultural convergence of consumers in those countries.

“We found that the sanitary conditions of restaurants in Hong Kong have dramatically improved after McDonald’s entered the Hong Kong Market,” Jean said. “Foreign companies like McDonald’s and KFC go to emerging markets to benefit themselves they also change the structure of industry and culture in those countries as well.”

Jennifer Davis, medical ethnomusicology graduate student said she has conducted research on the use of the Native American flute as a means for improving mental, physical and spiritual well-being. Davis said she had worked as a teacher for ten years and had several special needs students. After seeing how the students opened up and responded to music, she became interested in music therapy, she said.

The initiative in programs such as Student Research and Performance Day isn’t purely academic, Williams said.

“Once you get to graduate school, you’re really focused within your academic department,” Williams said. “Graduate students also want to feel like they are part of a larger community.”

Because a larger proportion of graduate students are married, they are older and more mature with a different set of needs and perspectives, Williams said.

“We want the graduate students to have a positive academic experience. We don’t have a responsibility or authority for their non-academic life but we do have a vested interest in it,” Williams said.