energy and sustainability

Nuclear energy director to explore energy options

CORVALLIS - William D. Magwood, director of the Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology in the U.S. Department of Energy, will discuss nuclear technology as a means to address the nation's energy needs in a talk on Tuesday, May 3, at Oregon State University.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, begins at 4 p.m. at LaSells Stewart Center's Construction and Engineering Hall on the OSU campus. A reception will follow.

The event is sponsored by the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics in OSU's College of Engineering, and the Western Nuclear Science Alliance. The alliance is a collaboration between western universities, national laboratories and private industry that's headed by OSU and supports nuclear science and engineering education, research, and development.

Magwood is the senior nuclear technology official in the U.S. His agency is leading the consideration of nuclear technology as a means to address energy needs without polluting the air, and the U.S. role in the Generation IV International Forum. This forum, an international collective of 10 leading nations and the European Union's Eurotram, is dedicated to developing next generation advanced nuclear technologies.

Magwood has been elected chairman of both the Generation IV International Forum and the Paris-based OECD Steering Committee on Nuclear Energy. In the U.S., he has also helped develop the new Idaho National Laboratory, the nation's premier laboratory for nuclear energy research, development and education.

Bruce Weber to share OSU's plans for rural communities

PENDLETON - Bruce Weber, an Oregon State University economist who is coordinating OSU's Sustainable Rural Communities Initiative, will share that vision during an "OSU Presents" luncheon on Thursday, April 28, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Red Lion Inn in Pendleton.

The luncheon event is part of a series sponsored by the OSU Alumni Association and the Office of the Provost. The deadline for RSVPs is April 22; tickets are priced at $15 for association members, and $20 for non-members.

For more information or to register, call 877-305-3759, or go online at alumni.oregonstate.edu

The Sustainable Rural Communities Initiative is a coordinated group of faculty from five colleges seeking to redefine the relationship between Oregon State University and Oregon's rural communities. It is one of six initiatives singled out by the university as priorities for investment.

Weber said the faculty members involved in the initiative envision OSU working with several communities over the next five years in a collaborative partnership. Many communities face some of the same issues, he said, that can threaten their economic, environmental, social and cultural well-being. They include:

  • Economic development and natural resource management; 
  • The well-being of individuals and families;
  • Cultural identity and change;
  • Local governance and local, state and national policies.

    Communities also have unique assets that can be used to develop new opportunities, Weber said. OSU has, for decades, been closely involved with rural communities but usually on a project-by-project basis, he pointed out. The new initiative will help steer the university toward a more collaborative, holistic partnership with these communities.

    "We'd like to see a full spectrum of our faculty working in targeted communities looking at all manners of issues," Weber said, "from the economy, to the roles of school and church, to problems of methamphetamines and crime."


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    Scott Elmshaeuser, 541-737-8883

    OSU engineering conference features chemistry-powered cars

    CORVALLIS - The Oregon State University Student Chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers will host the institute's 2005 regional conference on April 22-23 on the OSU campus, featuring a unique race car competition with vehicles powered solely by chemical reactions.

    The conference brings students, faculty and industry members from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and British Columbia to campus. It includes workshops, a career fair, two competitions, and a banquet with a keynote address by renowned OSU chemical engineering professor emeritus Octave Levenspiel.

    "This is the largest conference of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, and we're excited to be hosting it here at Oregon State," said Sean Thomas, a senior in chemical engineering at OSU, and chair of the conference. "This is a great opportunity for the public, and K-12 students and teachers in particular, to get a close look at the exciting field of chemical engineering."

    Some of the region's most promising chemical engineers of the future will present current research at the Student Paper Competition on Saturday, April 23, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Joyce Powell Leadership Center in the OSU Memorial Union.

    The student-designed, chemically-powered vehicles will face off in the Chem-E Car Competition in the McAlexander Field House on the same day from noon to 2 p.m. Most events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit the conference website at http://www.aiche2005.com


    Sean Thomas, 503-332-1592

    Legislative hearing set Tuesday at OSU on renewable energy

    CORVALLIS - The Oregon Legislature's House Environment Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday (April 12) at Oregon State University to hear from experts on future and alternative energy sources.

    This informational meeting, which is open to the public, will begin at 2 p.m. in OSU's CH2M-Hill Alumni Center Room 110A.

    Speaking at the hearing will be Mike McGary, of the Nuclear Energy Institute; Tom Tanton, of the Institute for Energy Research; and a panel of representatives from Oregon alternative energy businesses.

    A panel of OSU faculty engaged in alternative energy research also will speak about their work with wave energy, biofuels, fuel cells and other areas.

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    Gail Achterman, 541-737-9875

    OSU nuclear engineering program ranked in top ten

    CORVALLIS - The graduate program in nuclear engineering at Oregon State University has been ranked ninth in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, in the magazine's annual ranking of U.S. graduate programs.

    "We're extremely gratified to be ranked so highly by our peers," said José Reyes, professor and interim department head in the OSU Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics.

    "This is a tremendous tribute to the dedicated efforts of our faculty, staff and researchers," Reyes said. "It adds fire to our commitment to providing quality education and research that will benefit the nation and the world."

    Reyes said a goal of the OSU Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics is to be the premier provider of research-enriched education in nuclear sciences and engineering.

    Over the past three years, the department has received more than $7 million to upgrade the facilities of the Radiation Center, which houses the department, and to fund scholarships and an endowed chair. As part of a national consortium of universities, the department will collaborate with the new Idaho National Laboratory on cutting-edge research that will respond to the nation's future energy, national security and medical needs.

    "Behind the ranking stand the department's world-class faculty - people committed to creating opportunities for students and advancing knowledge of nuclear engineering and radiation health physics," Reyes said.

    The U.S. News and World Report specialty rankings are based on assessments by department heads who rate other schools in their specialty area on a five-point scale. In nuclear engineering, ranked for the first time in 2005, 25 schools were rated.


    José Reyes, 541-737-7065

    Klein appointed to Idaho National Laboratory

    CORVALLIS - Andrew Klein, professor and head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics at Oregon State University, has been appointed the director of education, training, and research partnerships for the new Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

    Klein will be on loan from OSU in this new position. For an interim period, professor José Reyes will become interim department head and Steve Reese, reactor administrator, will assume Klein's role as director of the Radiation Center.

    Klein is an internationally recognized leader in nuclear engineering and has served on various nuclear advisory panels and committees. He has testified before a Congressional committee about funding and direction for the new laboratory in Idaho, which is to be the nation's focal point for nuclear energy research, development, demonstration and education. He also recently chaired the Subcommittee on Nuclear Laboratory Requirements for the Department of Energy's Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee.

    Last November, the Department of Energy announced the establishment of the Idaho National Laboratory and awarded the 10-year, $4.8 billion, management and operations contract to the Battelle Energy Alliance, which includes OSU in a national consortium of eight universities.

    In his new position, Klein will help build relationships among the participating universities and lead the future development of the world's nuclear power industry.

    Oregon BEST, OSU team to help Iraq engineers rebuild their war-torn nation using green practices

    PORTLAND, Ore. – While Oregon’s economy remains sluggish and the war in Iraq continues, the Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center (Oregon BEST) has helped Oregon State University broker funding for a unique project that could boost business for the state’s green building and renewable energy sectors while helping the people of Iraq rebuild their war-ravaged infrastructure.

    Engineering faculty from OSU, working with the Michael Scott Mater Foundation, used a $27,000 grant from Oregon BEST to leverage more than $400,000 that will support a two-week, hands-on workshop in August for 20 Iraqi delegates who will visit Oregon to learn about green building, sustainable design and renewable energy from researchers at OSU, University of Oregon and Portland State University.

    “This will be the first time an event of this type has been undertaken in the United States,” said Scott Ashford, head of the OSU School of Civil and Construction Engineering, which is organizing the visit through its Kiewit Center for Infrastructure and Transportation.

    Joshua Mater, CEO and founder of the Mater Foundation, said the American Embassy in Bagdad is excited about the project.

    “We’ve been informed that Gen. (Ray) Odierno, who took over for Gen. (David) Petraeus, has received briefings on the project,” Mater said. “And we’ve even had calls from Hollywood producers who want to make a documentary about this project. It’s very exciting.”

    In addition to learning from their U.S. academic counterparts, the group of university presidents and engineering professors from 13 Iraqi universities will also visit a range of green building and renewable energy projects under way in the state and spend time with some of Oregon’s leading construction, engineering and architecture firms, including CH2M HILL, Granite Construction, Gerding Edlen Development, SERA Architects and others.

    Delegates will also meet with Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski and tour state agencies, including the Oregon Department of Transportation.

    “This is an extraordinary opportunity for Oregon businesses, universities and state agencies to make connections with Iraqi engineering professors and others involved in the rebuilding efforts under way in that country,” Ashford said. “Our Iraqi colleagues will have a tremendous impact on their students in Iraq, where they are tasked with essentially rebuilding the infrastructure of an entire country.”

    The seminar is a part of the SENERGI Initiative (Sustainable ENERGy and Infrastructure) at OSU, which is having an impact on sustainability by sharing the university’s leadership on efficient use of limited resources, Ashford said.

    “Oregon is internationally known for our green building and renewable energy research and innovation, and this is an excellent way to share that with the global community, which could lead to increased business for Oregon companies,” Ashford said. “Although their contribution is often overlooked, construction managers have a tremendous impact on green building, because they are the people tasked with making sustainable projects a reality.”

    The exchange will also benefit Oregon faculty members and students, offering exposure to international and cultural differences that will prepare students to compete in the global marketplace.

    “Not only will engineers from Iraq learn about green built materials and environments, but Oregon’s engineering faculty and students will learn how to incorporate sustainable engineering and design into new cultures – making them more competitive in a green jobs market,” Ashford said.

    The relationship between OSU and the Iraqi campuses started a year ago, when then-U.S. Army Capt. Josh Mater, an Oregon State alumnus, gathered engineering textbooks worth $10,000 for donation to Dhi Qar University. Mater had been stationed in Iraq as part of rebuilding efforts, and had seen firsthand the dire need for supplies. He and his family, through the Michael Scott Mater Foundation, paid to ship the textbooks to Iraq. The foundation, which he founded, is named for Mater’s late father; his mother, Catherine Mater, is director of sustainability for the College of Engineering at OSU.

    In February, the presidents of Dhi Qar University in southern Iraq, and Babylon University east of Baghdad, visited Corvallis to meet with OSU President Ed Ray and other campus leaders, tour the College of Engineering research facilities and sign memoranda of understanding between their institutions and Oregon State.

    Since then, the project has come together quickly for OSU and the Mater Foundation with assistance from the U.S. Embassy in Bagdad and the U.S. Department of State helping to fast-track the project in Iraq.

    “But none of this would have happened without the initial $27,000 investment from Oregon BEST,” he said. “And this is just the beginning. I believe we’ll be able to secure much higher levels of future funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, which is great news for Oregon’s economy.”

    The initial funding from Oregon BEST helped leverage an additional $240,000 from the U.S. Department of State in Iraq and $50,000 from an OSU engineering alumnus. These funds were matched with cost sharing from the OSU College of Engineering ($75,000), the Michael Scott Mater Foundation ($14,000) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (up to $19,000).

    “This is an excellent example of how Oregon BEST helps Oregon businesses and Oregon universities collaborate to help create jobs and develop a trained green jobs labor pool for the state’s emerging green economy,” said David Kenney, president and executive director of Oregon BEST. “This unprecedented visit will lead to stronger ties between Oregon and Iraq, which can create jobs for our state’s green building and renewable energy sectors.”

    Following their stay in Oregon, the delegates will return to Iraq to apply their knowledge to the reconstruction efforts in their country and to improve the engineering curriculum at their universities.


    David Kenney, 503-725-9849


    CORVALLIS - How do you design a remote-controlled vehicle that will safely transport heavy loads of hazardous material across inhospitable, rugged terrain without the material coming into direct contact with humans? Or a vehicle that is able to climb up and down stairs without spilling its load?

    Teams of mechanical engineering students at Oregon State University recently designed and built functioning prototypes of just such vehicles as part of a hands-on design class aimed at exposing budding engineers to real-world problems. And on Thursday, Dec. 2, the student teams will compete against one another as they showcase their innovative designs before a panel of judges.

    The event will be at 7 p.m. in Milam Auditorium, and is free and open to the public.

    Devices built by 26 teams will each attempt to successfully navigate through a 10-minute challenge course while carrying as much rice as possible from a loading area to a receiving container. The course includes an L-shaped stair setup on each delivery loop.

    The winning team will take its prototype on to the regional design competition, where OSU engineering student teams have won first place the past three years in a row. "This year, we have some very unique designs, so this should be an interesting evening," said Ping "Christine" Ge, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at OSU and teacher of the design class. "This is an excellent example of applying engineering skills to solve very real problems."

    Load-delivery devices based on the designs developed by the OSU engineering students could be used in mining operations, agricultural applications, environmental cleanup situations, coastal preservation projects, and other applications where conventional automotive vehicles are not feasible.

    The OSU class adopted an annual design contest sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, which specifies a design problem, and challenges students to find a solution.

    "Oregon State is one of the few engineering programs that use the ASME challenge in the required curriculum," Ge said. "The class gives our students a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate individual strength/potential and creatively apply engineering theory to real-life problems. And the formal competition inspires young people in the audience to consider studying engineering."

    OSU mechanical engineering faculty, staff and students will be on hand before and during the formal competition to answer questions.


    Ping "Christine" Ge, 541-737-7713


    CORVALLIS - Oregon State University Extension Service will explore a series of sustainability issues on a new cable network modeled after C-SPAN. Beginning Thursday evening, Dec. 9, viewers with cable access can tune in to some of OSU Extension's award-winning programs on the new Oregon Public Affairs Network (OPAN).

    The series of eight 30-minute programs cover current public issues from rural community development to urban runoff to watershed restoration. Most stations will air the series on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. Check local listings.

    The first program, "Towns in Transition," follows the fate of three natural resource-dependent communities in the Pacific Northwest as they manage changes in their local industries.

    Following each program, viewers can go to a special web site to learn more. Online, they can access hundreds of publications and videos produced by OSU Extension experts.

    OPAN is a new nonprofit television network bringing public issues and government to the living rooms and computer terminals of Oregonians. Modeled on the nationally successful C-SPAN, OPAN is a partnership among OSU, the State Legislative Media Service, the Oregon Wireless Instructional Network (WIN) and local cable access centers in six counties - Multnomah, Lane, Polk, Linn, Benton and Deschutes.

    OPAN is broadcast from 6 to 8 p.m. each night, and also will provide daily gavel-to-gavel legislative coverage in Portland and the Corvallis area. Programs can also be viewed online at http://www.opan.org.

    The eight OSU Extension programs that will air on OPAN include:

    • Dec. 9: "Towns in Transition: Managing Change in Natural-Resource- Dependent Communities"


    • Dec. 16: "The Miracle at Bridge Creek"


    • Dec. 23: "Rethinking the American Dream and Why Should I Bother? Waste Prevention in the Work Place"


    • Dec. 30: "Beyond Recycling: Waste Prevention in Manufacturing and Distribution" and "Better Than Recycling: Waste Prevention in the Office"


    • Jan. 6: "Strangers in Our Waterways"


    • Jan. 13: "We all Live Downstream"


    • Jan. 20: "After the Rain: Urban Runoff"


    • Jan. 27: "Life on the Edge: Improving Riparian Function and Buying Time: Instream Restoration"

    Local cable networks that will broadcast the OSU Extension series include: the Eugene area, Channel 21; Corvallis/Albany, Channel 27; Washington and Clackamas County areas, Channel 28; the Portland area, Channel 29; Monmouth/Independence, Channel 17; Bend, Channel 11; Lane and Douglas County areas, Channel 9.

    For more information about OPAN programming, see: http://www.opan.org. For more information about OSU Extension programs and publications, see: http://extension.oregonstate.edu.

    Story By: 

    Lynn Ketchum, 541-737-0802

    Distinguished Professors Speaking This Month on Climate Change, Materials Science

    CORVALLIS, Ore. – Two Oregon State University professors who last year earned the highest honor that OSU confers upon faculty members will make major presentations this month as part of the Distinguished Professor Lecture Series.

    Chemist Douglas Keszler and marine biologist Patricia Wheeler earned the “distinguished professor” title at the end of the 2005-06 academic year for research and scholarship that has not only been prominent at OSU, but that has contributed significantly to their respective academic disciplines. Keszler’s work on transparent and printed electronics and optical materials has earned international notoriety, while Wheeler’s breakthroughs on phytoplankton have changed the way that scientists look at ocean productivity.

    Keszler, a distinguished professor of chemistry in the College of Science, will discuss his latest research as well as new directions in his field in a Tuesday, May 22, lecture titled “New Materials for Energy and Process Efficiency.” The lecture is set for 3 p.m. in the Memorial Union Journey Room.

    A distinguished professor of oceanic and atmospheric sciences in the college of the same name, Wheeler will speak on “The Arctic Ocean: Early Exploration, Recent Scientific Expeditions and Impending Climate Impacts” on Thursday, May 31. Her talk also will begin at 3 p.m. in the MU Journey Room.

    Accommodation requests related to disability should be made to the Office of the Provost via Nancy Hoffman at (541) 737-0733 or nancy.hoffman@oregonstate.edu.


    Sabah Randhaw,