OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of engineering

Seismic experiments will test performance of innovative cross-laminated timber structure

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Engineering researchers are putting an innovative two-story structure made of cross-laminated timber panels through a series of seismic tests to determine how it would perform in an earthquake.

The tests are being conducted at the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure at University of California San Diego (NEHRI@UCSD) site, which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). They will produce data that can be used in the design of a new generation of wood-frame high-rises, such as a four-story parking structure designed for Springfield, Oregon, and the 12-story Framework building in Portland. Scheduled to open in 2018, the 90,000-square-foot Framework structure will be the tallest mass-timber building in the United States.

A consortium of universities, agencies and engineering firms is conducting the tests with funding from the NSF, Katerra, Simpson Strong-Tie, Tallwood Design Institute, DR Johnson Lumber Co., the Forest Products Laboratory, City of Springfield, the Softwood Lumber Board and MyTiCon Timber Connectors.

“The overarching goal of the project is to propose a design methodology for seismic loading for large panels subjected to large in-plane loading, including some consisting of a composite made of concrete and cross-laminated timber (CLT),” said Arijit Sinha, associate professor of renewable materials in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University

“Several tests will be conducted at different shaking intensities,” said Andre Barbosa, assistant professor of structural engineering in the College of Engineering at Oregon State. “The three different phases of testing include designs for locations in San Francisco, Seattle and Berkeley.”

Barbosa, Sinha and Christopher Higgins, professor of structural engineering in the OSU College of Engineering, are leading the test of the building’s horizontal elements. The three researchers are affiliated with the Tallwood Design Institute at Oregon State, a collaboration between OSU and the University of Oregon.

The tests reflect a range of stresses associated with a variety of earthquake and wind conditions. “Just for reference, the shake-table motions on one of the tests are calibrated to what is expected to occur in a magnitude 9.0 subduction earthquake zone event in Seattle,” Barbosa added.

Researchers will collect data through more than 300 channels in three phases of testing on the 22-foot-tall structure. Data will be generated at pre-selected points to measure how the CLT panels bend and how the panels move relative to each other. Researchers are particularly interested in a system that allows the building to rock in response to an earthquake and how the walls and floors interact during shaking.

In a so-called “rocking wall system,” vertical walls are connected to a steel footing by post-tensioned rods that run up next to a CLT wall and special U-shaped brackets on the side of the wall. The rods allow the wall to rock during an earthquake and snap back into its original upright position, minimizing the impact and resulting structural damage.

Other collaborating researchers include Shiling Pei of the Colorado School of Mines, John van de Lindt of Colorado State Universit, Jeffery Berman of the University of Washington, Dan Dolan of Washington State University, James Ricles and Richard Sause from Lehigh University, and Keri Ryan from University of Nevada Reno. Also participating in the tests are representatives of KPFF Consulting Engineers and WoodWorks, an initiative of the Wood Products Council.

Researchers plan to evaluate larger buildings in the future, including a 10-story tall CLT structure by 2020.

Ongoing activity at the outdoor shake-table of the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure facility is live-streamed by webcam at http://nheri.ucsd.edu/video/

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Andre Barbosa, andre.barbosa@oregonstate.edu, 541-737-7291; Arijit Sinha, arijit.sinha@oregonstate.edu, 541-737-6713  

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Research aims to make artificial intelligence explain itself

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Eight computer science professors in Oregon State University’s College of Engineering have received a $6.5 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to make artificial-intelligence-based systems like autonomous vehicles and robots more trustworthy.

The success of the deep neural networks branch of artificial intelligence has enabled significant advances in autonomous systems that can perceive, learn, decide and act on their own.

The problem is that the neural networks function as a black box. Instead of humans explicitly coding system behavior using traditional programming, in deep learning the computer program learns on its own from many examples. Potential dangers arise from depending on a system that not even the system developers fully understand.

The four-year grant from DARPA will support the development of a paradigm to look inside that black box, by getting the program to explain to humans how decisions were reached.

“Ultimately, we want these explanations to be very natural – translating these deep network decisions into sentences and visualizations,” said Alan Fern, principal investigator for the grant and associate director of the College of Engineering’s recently established Collaborative Robotics and Intelligent Systems Institute.

Developing such a system that communicates well with humans requires expertise in a number of research fields. In addition to having researchers in artificial intelligence and machine learning, the team includes experts in computer vision, human-computer interaction, natural language processing, and programming languages.

To begin developing the system, the researchers will use real-time strategy games, like StarCraft, to train artificial-intelligence “players” that will explain their decisions to humans. StarCraft is a staple of competitive electronic gaming.

Later stages of the project will move on to applications provided by DARPA that may include robotics and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Fern said the research is crucial to the advancement of autonomous and semi-autonomous intelligent systems.

“Nobody is going to use these emerging technologies for critical applications until we are able to build some level of trust, and having an explanation capability is one important way of building trust,” he said.

The researchers from Oregon State were selected by DARPA for funding under the highly competitive Explainable Artificial Intelligence program. Other major universities chosen include Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, Texas and University of California, Berkeley.

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Rachel Robertson, 541-737-7098

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Four OSU engineering faculty earn top awards

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Four faculty members in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University have received more than $2 million in prestigious early career awards.

Three faculty received National Science Foundation CAREER awards totaling more than $1.5 million, which support young faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through the integration of education and research. Another faculty member received $510,000 through the Office of Naval Research Young Investigators Program, which recognizes junior faculty who show exceptional promise for creative research.

The recipients of the National Science Foundation CAREER awards include:

  • Julie Tucker, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, for her research proposal, “Assessing Low Temperature Phase Stability through Irradiation.”
  • Ross Hatton, assistant professor of robotics and mechanical engineering, for his research proposal, “Geometric Understanding of Locomotion.”
  • Attila Yavuz, assistant professor of computer science, for his research proposal, “Light-Weight and Fast Authentication for Internet of Things.”

The recipient of the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award is Geoffrey Hollinger, assistant professor of robotics and mechanical engineering, for his research proposal, “Information-Aware Decision Making in Teams of Autonomous Vehicles and Humans.”

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Krista Klinkhammer, 541-737-4416

OSU names Mix, Selker as distinguished professors

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has named Alan Mix and John Selker as its 2017 Distinguished Professor recipients, the highest academic honor the university can bestow on a faculty member.

This honor will be permanent as long as the recipient remains at OSU.

“These two extraordinary scientists are helping people around the world to understand how our environment functions, now and at times in the distant past,” said Edward Feser, provost and executive vice president at OSU.

“John Selker has done groundbreaking work in environmental instrumentation, soil physics and hydrology, creating for that purpose innovative new applications in fiber optics,” Feser said. “His work to explain how water moves through soils and on surfaces relates to everything from modern agriculture to ecology, aquatic science, groundwater and the protection of our environment.

“Alan Mix has viewed the world not only as it is today, but as it used to be thousands of years ago. This helps us understand what forces were at work then and what that may mean for our future as the climate changes.  He has tied together prehistoric changes on land, sea, in ice and biota, from the tropics to the ice packs, and is one of the pioneers in studying ‘tipping points’ at which global change might accelerate.”

Selker, a professor in the Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering, has published more than 115 scientific papers that have been cited thousands of times. Selker received his doctorate in hydrology from Cornell University and has been on the OSU faculty since 1991. He has received multiple career awards in his field, is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and routinely involves undergraduate OSU students in his international research and training experiences.

Selker individually created new instruments and measurement devices that have helped revolutionize the field of hydrology. He recently organized a public/private initiative to improve instrumentation of weather in Africa, which could dramatically improve African agriculture, aid the study of global climate change and help address other needs in African sustainability and economic development.

Mix, a professor in the OSU College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, has generated 244 publications and more than 17,500 citations as one of the world’s leading paleoclimatologists. Findings in the geologic record about past climatic changes are a key to understanding the present, the forces now at work and what they may bring.

Mix has received more than $31 million in research funding through 89 grants, participated in 19 major global expeditions and for 20 years managed the OSU marine geology repository for sediment cores. In a male-dominated field, half of his graduate students have been women, international or underrepresented minority students.

Both professors will give public lectures on May 15 in the Horizon Room of the Memorial Union on topics in their area of research.

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Edward Feser, 541-737-0731

ed.feser@oregonstate.edu

Soft robots to be featured at Corvallis Science Pub

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Inspired by animals that slither, swim and crawl, engineers are designing new robotic systems as soft as skin and muscle.

At the Corvallis Science Pub on Monday, March 13, Yiğit Mengüc, assistant professor in the Oregon State University College of Engineering, will show how he uses 3D printing, biodegradable rubber and other materials to produce robots with the agility of geckos and the flexibility of snakes.

The Science Pub is free and open to the public. It begins at 6 p.m. at the Old World Deli, 341 S.W. 2nd St. in Corvallis.

“Bioinspired mechanisms include soft muscles, adhesives and soft wearable sensors,” said Mengüç. “The mLab fabricates these materials and mechanisms through our own innovations in 3D printing and rapid digital manufacturing. Though significant challenges remain to be solved in soft materials, exciting developments promise to bring robots more and more into our daily lives.”

Sponsors of Science Pub include Terra magazine at OSU, the Downtown Corvallis Association and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

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Yiğit Mengüc, yigit.menguc@oregonstate.edu, 541-737-4104

    

Oregon State professor honored for inventions

CORVALLIS, Ore. - John Wager, a professor in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University, has been named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors for technological advances in consumer electronics products such as televisions and computer monitors.

This professional distinction is made to prolific academic inventors who have created or facilitated inventions that made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society, academy officials say.

Wager, the Michael and Judith Gaulke Endowed Chair Professor of Electrical Engineering in the OSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, is a pioneer in the area of transparent electronics - a technology with commercial applications in flat-panel displays being licensed to major manufacturers.

He holds 21 patents and has 17 more pending for thin-film materials with applications to flat-panel displays and thermal inkjet technology.  Wager also co-founded Inpria, Inc., and serves as an advisor to Amorphyx, Inc., companies that are working to commercialize technologies developed in his lab.

Wager has worked with graduate students and colleagues at OSU in the departments of chemistry, physics, electrical engineering, and chemical engineering. He co-authored one book, “Transparent Electronics,” four review articles, three book chapters, and more than 230 studies.

Source: 

Rachel Robertson, 541-737-7098

rachel.robertson@oregonstate.edu

OSU to be founding partner in national robotics initiative

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University will be one of the founding academic partners in the newest Manufacturing USA Institute, a $3 billion federal and private company initiative designed to enhance U.S. competitiveness in advanced manufacturing.

This is the latest of 14 institutes that have been announced, and is known as the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Innovation Hub. It will be supported by $253 million from federal and matching funding. States, local governments, industry, universities, community colleges and non-profit organizations will participate, and the U.S. Department of Defense is directing the federal effort.

American Robotics, Inc., in Pittsburgh will lead the new robotics hub in close collaboration with founding industrial and academic partners across the nation. A primary goal is to better organize the current fragmented capabilities in robotics technology in the U.S. while helping to make the nation better able to globally compete.

Among academic institutions, OSU already has one of the nation’s leading educational and research programs in robotics.

“We'll be leveraging our world-class robotics faculty in collaboration with our colleagues in mechanical, industrial, manufacturing engineering, and electrical engineering and computer science,” said Bill Smart, an associate professor in the OSU College of Engineering and one of the university’s leaders in robotics education and research.

“OSU is perfectly positioned for this institute, since it has strengths in all of the areas, and a long history of actually reaching out to and working with industry. This is squarely in OSU's wheelhouse, given our long history and deep experience of working with Oregon companies on projects that bring real, tangible benefits to the local and national economies.”

The new institute will conduct applied research and development; deliver education and workforce training; and create a nationwide network of “regional innovation” collaborations. OSU will help lead one of those collaboratives in the Pacific Northwest.

In the long term, robotics innovation is expected to help American workers be more productive and stimulate new technological innovations. Advances are expected in robotics control; dexterous manipulation; navigation and mobility; perception and sensing; and other fields. Small, medium and large industrial partners are being sought.

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Bill Smart, 541-737-2600

bill.smart@oregonstate.edu

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New Startup Showcase is Demo Day 2.0

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Startup Showcase will be presented by entrepreneurs from the Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator/ RAIN Corvallis program on Thursday, Oct. 20.

The event will be a celebration of achievements and a new take on a traditional startup graduation event for the program. Individuals will present their successes and companies live on stage at the LaSells Stewart Center, Construction and Engineering Hall; and other researchers will discuss advances in their fields.

The event is free and open to the public, and attendees can choose to attend one, two, or all three sessions. Free registration is available online at http://bit.ly/2dHQSPs

The sessions will include “The Futurists” from 2:30-3:45 p.m., a panel-style event led by selected OSU researchers who will showcase OSU technologies available for commercialization. This will feature “The Future of Robotics,” by Johnathan Hurst; “Advances in Sustainable Materials and Green Chemistry,” by Doug Keszler; “Life Science Innovations,” by Joe Beckman; “Wind Turbine Wildlife Sensor,” by Robert Albertani; “Novel Drug for Type-1 Diabetes and Autoimmune Disorders,” by Siva Kolluri; and “Treatment for Hypertension,” by Patrick Iversen.

A session on “Hot Startups” from 4-4:45 p.m. will include three-minute pitches by “Accelerate” clients, followed by a short awards ceremony. Companies include Hytchr, Julvia Technologies, Coyle, Seiji’s Bridge, Theory Software, and Jitterbug.

The event will conclude with “Growth Stage” from 5:30-7 p.m. “Launch” clients and alumni will give seven-minute pitches, and companies include eChemion, Onboard Dynamics, Bee Certain, Chef Mel’s, Baker Seed Technologies, and Danio Discovery.

Media Contact: 

Anna Walsh

anna.walsh@oregonstate.edu

Source: 

Mark Lieberman, 541-368-520

mark.lieberman@oregonstate.edu

New initiative will help investigate natural disasters worldwide

SEATTLE, Wash. - A $4.1 million grant was announced today from the National Science Foundation to provide instrumentation and tools for a new Rapid Response Research Facility, which will promptly collect data about how buildings, roads, bridges and other infrastructure are impacted by earthquakes or wind damage from hurricanes, tornadoes and other storms.

The center will be operated by the University of Washington in collaboration with Oregon State University, the University of Florida and Virginia Tech. Scientists say it will provide assistance to teams that can deploy anywhere around the world, and help compile data about damage in a systematic, high-quality way before it’s forever lost to bulldozers, weather, cleanup and repair efforts.

With this information, scientists hope to identify ways to improve building codes, identify weak spots in structures, and take other actions to help mitigate damage from future events. The system will also use the latest and most sophisticated technologies to analyze the landscapes.

“We’re able to learn a great deal now with technologies such as light detecting and ranging, or LIDAR, aircraft monitoring, hyperspectral imaging, and other instruments that can analyze seismic and wind forces better than ever before possible,” said Michael Olsen, an expert in the evolving science of geomatics, associate professor in the College of Engineering at OSU, and one of the co-principal investigators on the project.

“This new center will allow a much better way to coordinate data acquisition efforts, improve its quality and have more confidence in the findings we make. We’ll then work to make that information available to scientists all over the world.”

Joe Wartman, a UW associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and center director, said speed is essential.

"Usually with rescue and response efforts, this very valuable data disappears really quickly," Wartman said. "By collecting this data in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, we can begin to understand what went wrong and why. This allows us to better prepare and take precautionary measures in advance of future events."

The interdisciplinary center will focus on two types of natural hazards: wind hazards, such as tornadoes and coastal storms; and earthquakes, which includes earthquake-induced ground failure and tsunamis. It will also offer training to communities that wish to conduct post-disaster investigations themselves, as well as assess the social costs of disasters.

Findings of this type, Olsen said, will also be of value to the Cascadia Lifelines Program at OSU, which is a university-based initiative supported by private industry to help the Pacific Northwest prepare for the devastating subduction zone earthquake and tsunami expected in its future.

The facility will create new software tools for transmitting, integrating, exploring and visualizing the complex data sets. These include mobile apps to assess structural damage in the field and a platform for mixed-media social data gathering. A computer-automated virtual reality environment will also allow people to walk into a room and “see” the disaster scene in three dimensions as if they were there.

“The idea is that you can use the facility to collect data — either through our staff or our training — and then you can come to the center months later and recreate the field experience by walking through a damaged building or looking at how much a particular area flooded,” Wartman said.

In addition to supporting researchers, the facility will enable citizens to use social media and mobile devices to crowdsource post-disaster data and build awareness about wind- and earthquake-related impacts.

The grant follows the NSF’s larger $40 million NHERI investment, announced in September 2015, which funds a network of shared research centers and resources at various universities across the nation. The goal is to reduce the vulnerability of buildings, tunnels, waterways, communication networks, energy systems and social groups to increase the disaster resilience of communities across the United States.

"Under NHERI, future discoveries will not only mitigate the impacts of earthquakes, but also will advance our ability to protect life and property from windstorms such as hurricanes and tornadoes," said Joy Paushke, program director in NSF's Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation.

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Michael Olsen, 541-737-9327

michael.olsen@oregonstate.edu

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LIDAR image of tsunami damage
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Health care systems engineering expert to head OSU school

CORVALLIS, Ore.  – Harriet Nembhard, a professor of industrial engineering and an expert in operations research, process improvement, and quality control, has been named as the new head of the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Oregon State University.

Nembhard, who comes from Penn State University, will be the Eric R. Smith Professor of Engineering.

At Penn State Nembhard cofounded and directed the Center for Integrated Healthcare Delivery Systems. It became the university’s driving force behind health care delivery research, with holistic solutions that encompass engineering, medicine, nursing, health policy, and information sciences and technology.

Nembhard also served this year as interim department head of Penn State’s Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. She developed a strategy for academic development and faculty recruiting, initiated a master’s degree program and enrolled its first class, and organized teams to respond to major research thrusts in the College of Engineering.

Nembhard has written 46 peer-reviewed journal articles and a new textbook, “Healthcare Systems Engineering.” She has studied visualization methods for communicating healthcare data, statistical methods for the early detection of influenza outbreak, modeling patient adherence to treatment, monitoring mammograms for diagnostic error, and development of a patented manufacturing process for small-scale medical devices.

“We’re delighted to welcome Professor Nembhard to the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering,” said Scott Ashford, dean of OSU’s College of Engineering. “Her ability to serve students, success as an academic leader and researcher, and ability to create and foster productive and collaborative partnerships between academia and industry will be a great asset to our growing engineering community.”

Nembhard has served as a technical consultant for several major companies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Pharmaceutical Science and Clinical Pharmacology Committee, and Penn State’s Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment.

“The School of MIME has a long history of research and teaching excellence,” said Nembhard. “I am looking forward to working with the faculty and staff to further enrich our programs and deliver engineering innovations that address the needs of our society.”

Nembhard received her master’s and doctoral degrees in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan.

Media Contact: 

Steve Frandzel, 541-737-1082

Source: 

Scott Ashford, 541-737-5232

scott.ashford@oregonstate.edu


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Harriet Nembhard