engineering Tag

By Maegan Murray

A team from Washington State University Tri-Cities placed 17th recently during the SAE Aero Design Competition in Fort Worth, Texas.

WSU Tri-Cities - SAE Aero Design Competition

The WSU Tri-Cities mechanical engineering team poses with the airplane they designed and competed with at the SAE Aero Design Competition.

The team, composed of senior mechanical engineering students Erik Zepeda, Austin Shaw, Ryan Hagins, Matt Kosmos, Arich Fuher and Jose Espinoza, spent five months designing and constructing their airplane. The plane spanned seven feet long and had a wing span of eight feet.

The team said they chose a different design from WSU Tri-Cities teams who competed in years prior, and that their design was also different from many teams competing.

“Most of the other designs were pretty square, but we wanted to go with a more aerodynamic shape,” Shaw said. “We got numerous compliments on the design of our plane.”

During the competition, the team had a very successful first flight, placing fourth in the first round. During their second flight, however, the team had some electrical problems, which they weren’t able to remedy mid-air and the aircraft crashed.

“Even with that crash, we ended up placing 10th in the flight category,” Shaw said. “If we hadn’t crashed, we probably could have placed in the top five teams. That was disappointing, but everything else went really well.”

In addition to their 17th overall placing, the team placed 23rd in regular class design, 22nd in regular class presentation and 18th in regular class most payload transported.SAE Aero Design Competition - Spring 2017

All of the team members said despite their disappointing second flight, they all thoroughly enjoyed the design process, as well as the competition.

“It was a pretty cool experience, especially since it was our senior project,” said Zepeda. “I had never thought about aerospace engineering before, but now I’m thinking about it as a possible career direction.”

All the team members said the project presented them with excellent preparation for their future careers as engineers, regardless of the field of engineering they each go into.

“It definitely gives you good experience for taking on a large engineering project, as well as working with different people, scheduling, meeting deadlines and making presentations in front of judges,” Fuher said.

SAE Aero Design Competition - Spring 2017The design project was part of a senior capstone course taught by Messiha Saad, WSU Tri-Cities clinical assistant professor of mechanical engineering and faculty adviser for the campus’ SAE Aero Design team. Saad said the competition provides the opportunity for his students to learn the mechanics and importance of teamwork, project organization, scheduling, system and product design, product testing, cost analysis and project reporting.

“Through this design project and competition, my students are able to demonstrate and develop their engineering skills set in a real-world environment with real deadlines and stiff competition,” he said. “I am very proud that my students demonstrated the ability to successfully compete with students from some of the top-rated engineering programs in the country.”

PULLMAN, Wash. – As the new associate dean for international programs, Joseph Iannelli will be responsible for developing and expanding global opportunities and collaborations in Washington State University’s Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture.

“Joseph has been providing outstanding leadership in connecting Voiland College faculty and students internationally,” said Don Bender, interim dean of the college. “In keeping with the university’s Drive to 25, we look forward to growing these efforts and broadening our global interactions and experiences.”

Iannelli, who has been at WSU since 2014, will maintain his position as founding director and professor in the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences at WSU Tri-Cities.

In his new role, he said he intends to develop partnerships with overseas universities and organizations in research and student exchange that will enhance economic development and goodwill toward his college, WSU and the state of Washington.

He has led several efforts to increase the university’s global connections. Earlier this year, WSU became the first university in the state to receive European Union funding to support student and faculty research exchanges. He has established partnerships with Technology University of Dresden, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences and Zurich University of Applied Sciences to begin student and faculty exchanges, joint graduate programs and research initiatives.

“These types of collaborations are important because we live in a globalized society,” he said. “When we provide this enhanced education, we graduate students who are ready to excel in their professions on the global scale.”

A fellow of the British Higher Education Academy, Iannelli holds a Ph.D. in engineering science with a focus on aerospace engineering and computational fluid dynamics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He holds a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Palermo, Italy, and a diploma in fluid dynamics from the Von Karman Institute in Belgium.

By Maegan Murray

Before the age of 20, Gordan Gavric was already working on technology that continues to change the world of security.

Gavric started as an electrical engineering intern at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in the High School Student Research Internship program the summer of his high school junior year working for the Atom Probe group in (define EMSL). Now a junior at Washington State University Tri-Cities, Gavric has transitioned into working in 30784625972_0822818cec_zthe Engineering Development Lab at PNNL, where he works with the creators of the millimeter wave imaging technologies used in body scanners that are deployed in airports across the world.
“It’s been pretty amazing,” Gavric said. “How many other interns get to work on this stuff? I started with PNNL my freshman year and I’ve been with them ever since. I’ve done everything from Python language programming, to circuit development, to building up and testing antennas using some very expensive, very cool pieces of hardware.”

The opportunities he was presented with through PNNL were the primary reason why he chose to attend Washington State University Tri-Cities.

“I think it was probably the best thing I could have done in terms of school and work,” he said. “I was interested in another university because their electrical engineering program was more based in radio and signal processing. But since then, I’ve taken classes here that are more oriented toward digital signal processing. I’ve received one of the best educations because I’m learning from the people that are actually doing it and they do it well.”

30599606060_48bf9994ca_zThrough his current position at PNNL, Gavric is using Python to develop a software application for nuclear security. He developed what is called a graphical user interface, or a GUI, that allows engineers to tweak parameters in real-time to better set instruments to protect a nuclear source. He is also working with millimeter wave antennas that are used in airport and security body scanners.

“Seeing some of crazy concepts behind it and the engineering required to develop that technology and the creativity that was facilitated has been incredible,” he said. “It was not like we were just designing circuits. You got the sense that you could be really creative in the way you solve the big problems in the world with engineering. It has been amazing to see that type of things being done right here in Richland.”

Gavric said his position uniquely allows him to be exposed to engineering concepts and materials first at PNNL, which he then learns about in detail at WSU Tri-Cities.

“Last summer, I was tasked with building a resonant filter and I spent close to two days figuring out everything I could about it at PNNL,” he said. “Then today, in electronics class, we talked about a similar design and learned how to apply it a little differently. I get to first see it applied and then learn more about it. It definitely enriches me because I’m exposed in a real-world experience and then I dive into the details of it in class.”

Gavric said the combination of his WSU Tri-Cities education and his real-world experience at PNNL has poised him with unique experiences that he will continue to use throughout his career in engineering.

“I like that everything correlates really well,” he said. “Everything I learn in class, I see at my job. My teammates at PNNL are like, ‘Have you learned about x? Oh, you learned it last week, OK cool.’ It helps me bond with them.”30268543804_0d4bd8094a_z

Gavric said he has also applied his experience at PNNL and what he is learning in the classroom at WSU Tri-Cities for external projects and leadership opportunities at the university. He and a couple of classmates started the robotics club on campus. He also is the chief justice for the Associated Students of Washington State University where he oversees the student government’s bylaws and judicial procedure.

“One of my favorite things about WSU and PNNL are the opportunities you are presented with,” he said. “WSU Tri-Cities is one of those places where if you have a will to do something, like starting an engineering club, you can. You can make the most out of anything. At PNNL, I’ve been provided with opportunities to advance in my career, like learning new engineering concepts and furthering my skillset.”

Plus, three of the five people on his team at PNNL either taught at or attended WSU Tri-Cities.

“I’m surrounded by fellow alumni,” he said. “It’s been pretty great.”

Interested in a career in electrical engineering? Visit https://tricities.wsu.edu/engineering/.

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – H. Keith Moo-Young, chancellor of Washington State University Tri-Cities, has been named a 2016 fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

He led an industry consortium research project on manufactured gas plant remediation strategies for the Electric Power Research Institute that included 15 public utilities. As a result, he shares a patent with colleagues Derick Brown and Andrew J. Coleman for a process to quantify coal tar in the environment.

He has published more than 200 research papers on solid and hazardous waste management and on fate and transport in the environment. He has secured research funding from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. departments of energy, education and defense, and other sources. He has contributed to environmental public policy through membership on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency science advisory board.

Election as an NAI fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded to academics whose inventions have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and welfare of society. Moo-Young’s leadership and innovation span commercialization activity in Pennsylvania, California and Washington state.

With him as chancellor, WSU Tri-Cities has grown its partnership with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for biofuels advancement and other innovative research efforts. Under his leadership, WSU Tri-Cities became home to the $23 million St. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center.

“I am honored to be selected as part of the National Academy of Inventors,” Moo-Young said. “This opportunity also opens doors to our students, faculty and staff at WSU Tri-Cities to expand upon their own research and innovation through the academy.”

NAI Fellows have generated more than 8,500 licensed technologies and companies and created more than 1.1 million jobs, with more than $100 billion in revenue generated based on their discoveries. There are 757 NAI fellows representing 229 research universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutes.

“With each year I continue to be amazed by the caliber of individuals named as NAI fellows, and the 2016 class is no exception,” said Andrew H. Hirshfeld, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office commissioner for patents. The fellows will be inducted as part of the NAI annual conference April 6 in Boston. For a complete list of NAI fellows, visit http://Academyofinventors.org/search-fellows.asp.

 

News media contact:
Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations, 509-372-7333, maegan.murray@tricity.wsu.edu

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

elmar-villota
Elmar Villota

RICHLAND, Wash. – In Elmar Villota’s home country of the Philippines, as much as 15 percent of households do not have electricity. Villota, a doctoral student in biological systems engineering at Washington State University Tri-Cities, is motivated to close that gap with renewable energy.

“A simple light bulb could make a world of difference,” he said. “Without a sustainable source of electricity, students can’t have light or read comfortably at night. Imagine how much knowledge they would miss.”

elmar-villota-left-educates-filipino-residents-web
Elmar Villota, left, educates
Filipino residents on basic
maintenance and
troubleshooting for an
energy device.

With a population of more than 100 million scattered across more than 7,100 islands, the Philippines faces the challenge of extending power to everyone, he said.

“In the Philippines, we are end users in terms of technology,” Villota said. “Historically, we have purchased technology rather than making or innovating it ourselves for our own use.”

Renewable energy, he added, could help address the nation’s sustainable energy concerns and stimulate technological growth.

Turning biomass into fuel, other products

As part of the Engineering and Research Development for Technology scholarship program, which is offered to all Filipino engineers by the Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology, Villota is working toward his doctorate at WSU Tri-Cities.

elmar-villota-with-residents-web
Elmar Villota with Filipino residents.

He is studying how to convert second-generation biomass, such as agricultural waste or woody crops, to biofuels and other useful products, such as bio-based polymers and chemicals. Working under WSU associate professor Bin Yang, Villota mainly is focused on enzymatic hydrolysis, a process that uses bacteria and fungi to break down plant cell walls to sugar, which is turned into fuel.

Villota has written a book chapter on the subject in cooperation with Yang and Ziyu Dai, a senior scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). He is also working with Rongchun Shen, a visiting scholar from China, on techno-economic assessment regarding methods for converting lignin—structural polymers in plants—into useful, high-value products like bioplastics.

Bioproducts lab, PNNL draw scholar

Villota was attracted to WSU Tri-Cities because of its national reputation for excellence in renewable energy research and its partnership with PNNL, a leading national innovator in the renewable energy sector.

elmar-villota-in-wsu-tri-cities-lab-web
Elmar Villota in a BSEL lab at WSU Tri-Cities.

“WSU is one of the best schools for renewable energy because of the WSU Tri-Cities’ Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory and the university’s relationship with PNNL,” he said. “That is what really encouraged me to go here.”

He also contributes to advancing Filipino renewable energy through his home university, serving as a lecturer at Central Luzon State University. He also is a technical expert in renewable energy for the university’s Affiliated Renewable Energy Center and Phil-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology.

Villota said he is hopeful that thousands of fellow Filipinos will benefit from his work, which could lead to basic electrification and light and even broader impacts.

“Through this experience, I hope to extend students’ learning capabilities, and in turn, extend the potential for them to make a difference in the world,” he said.

 

 

Contacts:

Elmar Villota, WSU Tri-Cities doctoral student, elmar.villota@wsu.edu
Bin Yang, WSU Tri-Cities biological systems engineering, 509-372-7640,binyang@tricity.wsu.edu
Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations, 509-372-7333,maegan.murray@tricity.wsu.edu

Six Washington State University Tri-Cities students sat in a conference room, anxiously waiting for their meeting with a group of AREVA’s engineering and project management officials to begin.

Many of the students didn’t know what to expect, as they had never worked on a project of this magnitude before. This was also their first time at AREVA’s Richland nuclear fuel manufacturing facility.

WSU Tri-Cities newsAs part of their senior mechanical engineering capstone course, the team, which consisted of seniors Jared Beauchene, Jose Chavez, Juan Mejia, Travis Lewis, Alex Schwarz and Manuel Bustos Ramirez, learned they would re-design the AREVA’s current cart used to transport uranium pellets from one building, where they are pressed into shape, to a different building, where they are sintered at a high temperature into their final form.

AREVA Plant Operations Manager Barry Tilden said the problems with the facility’s current pellet transfer cart is that it poses several safety concerns. There are several potential finger pinch points and ergonomic challenges posed when loading the small but heavy trays of uranium pellets, also known as “boats,” he said.

In addition to overcoming those safety elements, the new cart design would have to ensure a safe transport of the delicate pellets before sintering and contain the pellets if it were to tip over during transport. The cart would also have to provide protection from weather during the short trip from building to building and interface well with the existing equipment in two separate pellet production shops.WSU Tri-Cities news

The team spent the next seven months on the new design, balancing their time on the project with a full course load at WSU Tri-Cities.

“It’s was difficult,” Chavez said. “We knew this project would come with expectations and responsibilities. But as we worked through the design challenges, the project has been very rewarding and has given us great experience as we start looking for jobs after graduation.”

Tilden said the team truly embraced the challenges of the design while working through many obstacles and business requirements.

“The team did a great job and can be proud of their work developing and producing a new pellet cart design,” he said.

The team documented their progress through a series of posts on AREVA’s blog site. The entries provide insights into the different stages of the project and the struggles the team overcame along the way.

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Ma Thu Sha La was an infant in 1982 when his family left his home country of Burma, fleeing what quickly became a war zone.

“Soldiers came into the village and we couldn’t live there anymore,” he said through a translator. “They started killing people. We were scared we might be next. Everyone left.”

As refugees in Papu, Thailand, his family shared a one-bedroom bamboo hut alongside thousands of others. They struggled for low-paying jobs in road construction and WSU Tri-Cities newsweren’t allowed to seek employment outside the camp. Ma Thu said sometimes, despite hours of grueling road work, they would not see a paycheck for their efforts.

“It was hard,” he said. “But the worst part was the waiting. We lived in the dark, not knowing what was going on.”

In 2011, after years in the refugee camp, Ma Thu and his wife, Lu Dee, whom he married in 2003, received word they would be coming to the United States after applying and being approved for their green cards.

Once in the U.S., they aspired to own their own home, but they didn’t know if the feat was possible. In their first few years in the U.S., the family shared a two-bedroom apartment in Pasco, Wash., on Ma Thu’s salary of $25,000.

WSU Tri-Cities newsLast year, the family was approved for a three-bedroom, 1,200 square feet house after applying through the Tri-County Partners Habitat for Humanity. Sponsored and built in partnership with Washington State University Tri-Cities, the home is one of 24 themed houses sponsored by various local organizations as part of Habitat’s Whitehouse Addition Project in Pasco.

To make their home a reality, WSU Tri-Cities must raise approximately $80,000 to supplement the building and enable Habitat to sell it to the family at an affordable price with no-interest loans. The family is required to dedicate 500 sweat equity hours to construction.

Donations may be made to the program by contacting Ken Fincher, WSU Tri-Cities assistant vice chancellor of advancement and community engagement, at ken.fincher@tricity.wsu.eduor 509-372-7398.WSU Tri-Cities news

“This is an opportunity to provide for a family that has lived a life unimaginable to many,” Fincher said. “For years, this family dreamed of a home. This is our chance to give them one. Any donation will go directly into this project.”

Volunteering requires no previous construction experience and all equipment is provided on site. To sign up to volunteer, visit https://orgsync.com/125400/events?view=upcoming. For more information on the Coug House, visithttp://tricities.wsu.edu/cougsinthecommunity/coughouse.

 

Contact:
Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333, maegan.murray@tricity.wsu.edu

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

Cain,-left,-Loeffler-and-KlingeleRICHLAND, Wash. – Three undergraduate students were awarded $3,000 research grants from Washington River Protection Solutions as part of the Chancellor’s Summer Scholars Program at Washington State University Tri-Cities.

Students will do research collaboratively with faculty mentors, developing skills to prepare them for careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) or a related field.

Daniel Cain

Daniel Cain, mentored by physics instructor Cigdem Capan, will enhance capabilities for LIGO Hanford’s physical environmental monitoring subsystem. Some of his tasks will include mounting a half-wavelength antenna interface, mixing the antenna signal with a radiofrequency local oscillator and delivering the processed signal to the data acquisition system. He will also help upgrade LIGO’s cosmic ray detection system by designing, shipping, stuffing and testing circuit boards.

Eric Loeffler

Eric Loeffler, mentored by Changki Mo, associate professor of mechanical engineering, is constructing a flight motion simulator, which combines two areas of his interest: aviation and mechatronics. He will research different methods of controlling a platform to simulate the sensation of movement and explore audio and visual stimulation through headphones and virtual reality headsets before combining his knowledge into constructing the full simulator.

Zoe Klingele

Zoe Klingele, mentored by biological sciences assistant professor Jim Cooper, is researching jaw development in zebra fish. The fish is a model species used extensively for medical and developmental research. She will breed zebrafish and use high-speed video to record their feeding biomechanics before and after metamorphosis, which is the process of transformation from an immature form to an adult. Metamorphosis causes a complex change in zebrafish cranial biomechanics, and Klingele will study the role of thyroid hormones in regulating this transformation.

 

Contact:
Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333,maegan.murray@tricity.wsu.edu

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – A self-driving fuel-cell car, a prosthetic arm and a solar-powered hot water heater are among the 14 projects that will be showcased during the 2016 Washington State University Tri-Cities Engineering and Computer Science Senior Design Expo at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, in the West Atrium.

Students will present real-world projects they spent the school year researching, designing and developing. Members of the community are invited to attend give their feedback to the students.

“Each of these projects began as an idea enriched by considerable enthusiasm and compelling vision,” said Joseph Iannelli, WSU Tri-Cities executive director of engineering and computer science. “Through teamwork, diligence and expert mentorship, these students successfully completed innovative projects that are fully anticipated to make a real-world impact soon.”

Other projects include a pedestrian bridge for Badger Mountain Trail, design for a new engineering building, cloud-based decision support and data integration for precision agriculture and an optimized TiLite wheelchair.

 

Contacts:
Joseph Iannelli, WSU Tri-Cities engineering and computer science, 509-372-7420,joseph.iannelli@tricity.wsu.edu
Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333,maegan.murray@tricity.wsu.edu