OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of engineering

Grant to improve STEM success among underrepresented students

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has received a five-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to improve the retention and graduation rates of underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM fields.

The program will benefit underrepresented minorities, women, and economically disadvantaged individuals, and help address a growing national need for workers trained in STEM disciplines.

Targeted at students in the colleges of science, engineering, and agricultural sciences, the OSU program will use methods proven to increase STEM success, such as small, cohort-based orientation courses; mentoring by student peers; and workshops given by upper-class STEM students.

Faculty-directed undergraduate research in the freshman and early sophomore years, and the immediate post-transfer year for community college students, will also help provide students with enriching experiences that increase learning and provide economic support to help disadvantaged students remain in school.

The program is designed to benefit 276 student participants over its five-year span, and will be evaluated and communicated to other universities, for them to benefit by replicating its successes.

“This should also help build a structure, design and institutional culture of support for STEM students that will be retained long after the funding has ended,” said Kevin Ahern, principal investigator on the grant and a leader in university efforts to get more undergraduate students involved in experiential learning.

Source: 

Kevin Ahern, 541-737-2305

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Student research

Student research

Intricate algae produce low-cost biosensors

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University researchers are combining diatoms, a type of single-celled photosynthetic algae, with nanoparticles to create a sensor capable of detecting miniscule amounts of protein or other biomarkers.

This is a new and innovative approach to optical biosensors, which are important in health care for such applications as detecting levels of blood glucose or the presence of antibodies. They are also used for chemical detection in environmental protection.

Existing biosensors often require high-cost fabrication using artificial photonic crystals to make a precisely structured device. But diatoms appear to have just the right kind of intricate structure to integrate with gold or silver nanoparticles and produce a low-cost optical biosensor.

 “I've been working on this kind of sensor for a long time, and using diatoms instead of fabricating photonic crystals makes life much easier,” said Alan Wang, an assistant professor of electrical engineering in the OSU College of Engineering. “And from a commercial point of view it's much lower cost, about 50 cents compared to $50.”

Jeremy Campbell, a graduate student in chemical engineering working with OSU professor Greg Rorrer, brought the diatom to Wang’s attention. This launched a collaboration sponsored by the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute and Marine Polymer Technologies.

Although diatoms are being studied by other groups for applications such as batteries, no one else is researching their use for optical biosensors. Producing a low-cost sensor is important for a consumable product that is thrown away after one use.

Research has shown that using diatoms boosts the performance of the nanoparticles by increasing the absolute value of the signal by 10 times, and the sensitivity by 100 times. The current sensitivity of the OSU biosensor is 1 picogram per milliliter, which is much better than optical sensors used in clinics for detecting glucose, proteins and DNA, which have a sensitivity of 1 nanogram per milliliter.

“Combining naturally created structures with chemically synthesized nanoparticles has the potential to revolutionize the fabrication of photonic devices,” Wang said.

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By Rachel Robertson, 541-737-7098

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Walmart and The Walmart Foundation award OSU grant to help boost U.S. manufacturing

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has been chosen for one of the first seven grants from the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund created by Walmart and The Walmart Foundation to help accelerate manufacturing in the United States.

The $590,000 grant will support the development of innovations in plastics injection molding – one of the most common manufacturing processes for making consumer products – in which melted plastic resins are injected into a shaped cavity made by two metallic molds.

“Current practices for fabricating these molds are labor-intensive and costly, and much of the mold material is wasted as metal chips,” said Sundar V. Atre, OSU associate professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering. “We estimate that mold-making costs can be reduced by 40 to 50 percent.”

“That will give U.S. manufacturing an edge,” Atre added.

The Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund, in collaboration with the Conference of Mayors, will provide a total of $10 million in grants over the next five years. The first $4 million in grants were announced Thursday (Aug. 14) at the 2014 U.S. Manufacturing Summit in Denver.

“Researchers at many of America’s best universities are hard at work on tough manufacturing challenges,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of The Walmart Foundation. “We are excited to support the development of innovative solutions, which we hope will unlock new opportunity for manufacturing in this country.” 

Mayor Julie Manning of Corvallis noted that her city has earned a national reputation for innovation, ranking fourth last year in a report of patents per capita.

“A manufacturing renaissance is taking place in our region,” she said. “This project builds on the steps taken in recent years to more closely align the economic development strategy of Corvallis and Benton County with the growing success of Oregon State University and other local employers in fostering innovation and job creation.”

Over the course of the three-year project, Atre and his co-principal investigator, Oregon State mechanical engineering assistant professor Rajiv Malhotra, will work with three industrial partners – Metal Technology, Inc., in neighboring Albany, Ore., plus Arburg and North American Höganäs – to develop and test their manufacturing innovations. Part of the work will take place at the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute, collaboratively managed by OSU and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The team will work with the OSU Advantage Accelerator to develop a commercialization plan. This program helps move promising ideas out of the laboratory and into the marketplace, strengthening the economy.

Atre’s and Malhotra’s project is a prime example of the university’s leading-edge research that creates a better future for Oregon and the nation, said Robert B. Stone, head of OSU’s School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering.

“Making U.S. manufacturing more competitive globally is something all of us can relate to,” Stone said. “When we shop, we know the ‘Made in the USA’ label signifies jobs and stronger communities. This support from Walmart, The Walmart Foundation and the Conference of Mayors represents a vote of confidence in our track record at Oregon State of doing research with real-world impact, as we work in partnership with industry.”

In 2010 alone the U.S. plastics industry produced an estimated 16 billion pounds of injection-molded products for applications in packaging, electronics, housewares and biomedical areas.

The grant to Oregon State is part of The Campaign for OSU, which has raised more than $1.06 billion to support university priorities, including more than $140 million in private faculty research grants. The university community will celebrate the campaign’s impact Oct. 31 during Homecoming.

 

Media Contact: 

Michelle Williams, 541-737-6126

Source: 

Sundar V. Atre, 541-908-1483; Rajiv Malhotra, 541-737-5621

ChickTech encourages girls to enter technology fields

CORVALLIS, Ore. – ChickTech is hosting a workshop on Aug. 23-24 at Oregon State University to encourage high school girls to enter computing and technical fields.

The event culminates with a show on Sunday, Aug. 24, that’s free and open to the public. It will be from 4:30-5:45 p.m. at the Kelley Engineering Center on the OSU campus, and participants will display the projects they built.

The students may help create a robot, build a video game, or make a smartphone application, and are mentored by industry and academic professionals from high-tech fields. The event is free for participants, and includes an overnight stay in an OSU residence hall. It’s sponsored or supported by the OSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the Women and Minorities program, the OSU Library, Tektronix, HP, Kattare, and Korvis.

The event is designed as a fun, positive learning experience to build participants’ confidence in their technical abilities, provide positive role models, and create connections with other young women from the area.

ChickTech is a non-profit organization, founded in Portland in 2013 by OSU alumna, Janice Levenhagen-Seeley, who was motivated by her own experiences to foster a more inviting culture for women.

“It was hard to feel like I belonged as a woman in computer engineering,” Levenhagen-Seeley said. “So I started ChickTech to give other girls and women the support that I didn’t have. I want them to feel like they are welcome and have unique things that they are bringing to the industry.”

Media Contact: 

Rachel Robertson, 541-737-7098

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Engineering Expo to showcase student projects

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The 15th annual Engineering Expo featuring student projects from across all engineering disciplines will be held Friday, May 16, at the College of Engineering at Oregon State University.

The event showcases nearly 200 student-built projects, including at least 30 that focus on sustainability and 50 industry-sponsored projects. Also featured are a Robo*Palooza, an award-winning Mars rover, and First robots. The event is free and open to the public, and will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Kelley Engineering Center.

More information is available online at http://engineering.oregonstate.edu/expo2014, or by calling 541-737-3101. Follow the Expo on Twitter at #EngrExpo2014.

The various displays offer an exciting learning opportunity for anyone, organizers say, and may be of particular interest to high school students who are considering a career in engineering.

"The Expo is a collaborative and hands-on experience that helps our graduates transition seamlessly into their careers, and offers immediate value to their employers in today’s competitive job market," said Scott Ashford, dean of the College of Engineering. “It demonstrates the importance of research and industry-university partnership in creating top-notch engineering talent.” 

Among the various displays will be:

  • A campus shuttle tracking app that provides real-time locations on your phone, making it easier to park and get around campus;
  • A segmented radius solar collector that will significantly improve solar energy collection for remote locations;
  • An irrigation system to transport water for agricultural use to the Valley of Peace in Belize; 
  • A student-built rocket for the 2014 Intercollegiate Rocketry Engineering Competition;
  • An ordinary cell phone that can detect gamma radiation with the built-in light sensor.
Media Contact: 

Abby Metzger, 541-737-3295

Source: 

Scott Ashford

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Engineering Expo

Engineering Expo

Interactive “Beaver BarCamp” conference planned at OSU

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Beaver BarCamp 14, an informal conference where participants can explore anything from science to art, technology, food, culture or other topics, will be held Saturday, April 12, at Oregon State University.

The free event is open to the public, and will be held at the Kelley Engineering Center on the OSU campus from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. It is hosted by the Open Source Lab at OSU, and sponsored by Rackspace.

Session topics at Beaver BarCamp are not predetermined. Anyone can propose their own session based on a project, hobby or research area, or join a session that interests them. Past sessions have included coffee roasting, green computing, Google App Engine, compressed air vehicles and yoga.

The open format provides a collaborative environment that promotes audience participation through discussions, demonstrations or projects. Session planning and scheduling begins at 9:30 a.m. and the first session starts at 10:30 a.m. Registration at http://beaverbarcamp.org is encouraged but not required.

The Open Source Lab, which provides host and support services to more than 160 open source projects, will also have information sessions at Beaver BarCamp for those who are interested in learning more about the Open Source Lab and opportunities to become involved.

The Beaver BarCamp has been a biannual event for the last six years. In the future the Open Source Lab will host it as an annual event with more outreach to the community.

Media Contact: 

By Rachel Robertson, 541-737-7098

Source: 

Lance Albertson, 541-737-9975

Keck Foundation supports innovative materials research

 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The W.M. Keck Foundation has made a $1 million grant to Oregon State University to study new types of materials that can change shape when exposed to light, and might create an innovative way to store hydrogen.

The research will be done in the School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering at OSU and the Department of Chemistry at Ohio University.

“We’re excited about the possible applications of these materials,” said Brady Gibbons, an OSU associate professor of mechanical engineering. “They can absorb and store hydrogen like a sponge, but also squeeze themselves when light shines on them.”

This could make the materials useful to store hydrogen. Hydrogen fuel cells are one of the most promising technologies for automobiles of the future – producing only water as a byproduct when they generate electricity – but storage of the hydrogen is a primary challenge in meeting auto industry requirements.

Other applications may include gas separation, carbon dioxide capture, environmental monitoring and solar energy conversion and storage.

The shape change in the materials is caused by photoisomerization.

“Photoisomerization is very common, it’s the chemical process that our eyes use to see,” said Alex Greaney, the principal investigator and an OSU assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “We hope to design materials that can harness the process in a directed way, to create light-driven changes in shape, porosity or properties."

Other collaborators are professors Rob Stone and Irem Tumer from the OSU College of Engineering and professor Jeffrey Rack from Ohio University.

The grant to Oregon State comes as part of The Campaign for OSU. University leaders announced in January that campaign donors had pushed the campaign past its $1 billion goal with 11 months to spare, making OSU one of only 35 public universities to achieve the billion-dollar milestone in a campaign.

 

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Source: 

Brady Gibbons, 541-737-2427

FIRST robotics competition planned at OSU

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The FIRST Robotics Competition for high school students across Oregon will be held Friday and Saturday, April 4-5, at Oregon State University. It is free and open to the public.

The event at Gill Coliseum will feature robots built by students, in which teams of three robots compete in various games. The best opportunities to see the competitive games will be Saturday between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Students spend six weeks designing, building and testing robots for this competition, and will be available to interact with and answer questions from the public.

FIRST, or “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” is an organization that runs robotic events for grade school through high school students. More information can be obtained at http://www.usfirst.org

Organizers of the program say that FIRST participants are significantly more likely to attend college and major in science or engineering.

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OSU announces leadership transition in College of Engineering

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Scott Ashford, head of the School of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State University, was today appointed dean of OSU’s College of Engineering.

The appointment of Ashford, who is the Kearney Professor of Engineering at OSU, is effective immediately. He previously served as interim dean of the college in 2011-12. Ashford succeeds Sandra Woods, who will remain a tenured OSU professor.

Sabah Randhawa, OSU provost and executive vice president, announced the leadership transition on Friday.

“Oregon State University is fully committed to the success of the College of Engineering, its faculty, staff and students, and to building upon the excellent teaching, research and industry collaborations for which the college has long been recognized,” Randhawa said.

“I am confident that Scott Ashford will provide the leadership needed to advance the strategic direction and priorities of the college,” Randhawa added. “Going forward, it is essential to build a leadership team within the college that shares a sense of direction and purpose.”

Ashford, who is an alumnus of OSU, joined the engineering faculty in 2007. His research focus has been on enhancing public safety and reducing economic loss from earthquakes, tsunamis and coastal hazards. He helped create the Cascadia Lifeline Program to help Oregon businesses, governments and utilities prepare for a major earthquake and possible tsunami.

After working in private industry for seven years – mostly with CH2M-HILL – Ashford earned his Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley. He was on the faculties of the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand for two years, and the University of California-San Diego for 11 years, before returning to OSU.

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Steve Clark, 503-502-8217; steve.clark@oregonstate.edu

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Scott Ashford
Scott Ashford

Innovative program producing needed computer science graduates

CORVALLIS, Ore. – An online computer science degree program at Oregon State University – the only one of its type in the nation designed specifically for post-baccalaureate students – has grown rapidly, helping to address a national shortage of computer science graduates.

Although it was launched only 18 months ago by the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, by the end of this year the program will allow the school to double the number of its computer science graduates with a bachelor’s degree.

Developed in collaboration with OSU’s highly ranked Ecampus, the program allows students with a bachelor’s degree in another field to complete a degree in as little as 12 months because no general education courses are required. Many students choose a slower pace, however, and the courses are geared to people with no computer science experience.

The program has attracted students with a broad range of previous degrees including accounting, chemistry, engineering, history, journalism, law, psychology, and political science; 39 percent of the students come with backgrounds in humanities and social sciences. The online format allows individuals juggling work and family an easier way to go back to school.

According to a recent survey by the Technology Councils of North America, the entire nation is experiencing a shortage of people trained in computer science. Two-thirds of technology company executives in North America agreed there is a talent shortage, and the crisis is particularly acute in Oregon where 86 percent of executives reported there is a shortage of talent in a survey conducted by the Technology Association of Oregon.

A key strategy in the 2014 Oregon Business Plan is to better connect education with high-paying jobs in science and technology fields, including computer science.

Although the 755 students admitted to the online program are from all over the world, more than half of them are from Oregon, Washington and California, and 23 percent now live in Oregon.

“OSU’s one-year online degree program in computer science is working to help fill some of the gaps by offering students and professionals a flexible way to obtain valuable skills and increase their marketability within the local tech industry,” said Skip Newberry, president of the Technology Association of Oregon.

It’s also making a personal impact on individuals. With an established career in business and two small children, Bental Wong said he would not have been able to return to school to carry out his dream of becoming a software engineer, if it had not been for the flexibility of this program. After completing the program in a year, Wong immediately had three job offers and is now part of a small team at Hewlett Packard in Vancouver, Wash., creating innovative software for HP printers.

“It’s so rewarding to hear about the successes of our students,” said Terri Fiez, head of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “We are proud of the impact this program is having on the lives of our students and the tech industry.”

Media Contact: 

Rachel Robertson, 541-737-7098

Source: 

Terri Fiez, 541-737-3118