Yakacki named college Outstanding Faculty in Research

Yakacki (9-12)-WEBChristopher Yakacki, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has been selected as the 2015 recipient of the College of Engineering and Applied Science Outstanding Faculty in Research Award. The award, which includes a cash prize and a commemorative plaque, will be presented to Chris at the 2015 Year End Celebration on May 15.

He is also in the running for the campuswide Annual Award for Excellence in Research/Creative Activities.

Congratulations again, and best of luck with the campus-level award.

Hayes selected as the 2015 college Outstanding Faculty in Teaching

KM0_1174Roxann Hayes, instructor of civil engineering and advisor in the Engineering Student Services Center, has been named the 2015 College of Engineering and Applied Science Outstanding Faculty in Teaching. The award–a cash prize and commemorative plaque–will be presented to Roxann at the 2015 Year-End Celebration on May 15.

She is also under consideration for the campuswide Annual Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Congratulations, Roxann, and best of luck with the campus-level award.

EE students advance to 2015 Cornell Cup finals

Team-StratusFor the third consecutive year, a team of electrical engineering students under the leadership of assistant professor Dan Connors, has advanced to the finals of the Intel Cornell Cup. The competition will be held at the NASA Kennedy Space Flight Center May 1 – 2.

Team Stratus, Skyler Saleh, Bruno Mary, Antonio Duarte Jr, and Xin Li, will investigate the use of 3D sensing and computer vision technology available for mobile platforms, and design custom algorithms that trade-off execution time, accuracy, and power efficiency. Overall, the goal of their project is to demonstrate a large-scale near-field mobile 3D mapping system to aid in rapid disaster recovery and environmental analysis scenarios.

Best of luck at the finals and congratulations!

Learn more about the Intel Cornell Cup.

Third Annual Engineering Job & Internship Fair a Success

careerfair10On February 5, the Tivoli Turnhalle buzzed with enthusiastic engineering students on the hunt for internships and jobs. Twenty-one companies attended the third annual Engineering Job and Internship Fair, which drew almost 300 students. The CU Denver student chapters of the Society for Women Engineers (SWE) and Tau Beta Pi sponsored the event, along with the university Career Center and Experiential Learning Center.

“We had 50 percent more participating companies compared to last year, with many returning companies from previous years’ events,” said Maryam Darbeheshti, faculty sponsor SWE. “There’s a lot of good energy here today, on both sides of the tables.”

David Chau, a 2014 graduate from the computer science program, attended with his current employer, ReadyTalk. “It’s careerfair7definitely different being on this side of things and seeing students that I knew last year come through here,” he said. “We talked to at least 15 solid candidates today…there are definitely students who are ready.” ReadyTalk has participated in all three engineering job and internship fairs—Chau landed an internship with the company during his junior year at the 2013 event.

Students attending the fair appreciated the variety of companies on hand and the opportunity to network with employers who were actively seeing engineering professionals.

Nexenta, a company that develops software defined storage solutions, also has been present at all three fairs. Eric Ray, director of platform engineering with Nexenta, was impressed with the number of viable candidates, and he stressed the importance of events like the job fair to build relationships between companies, CU Denver, and the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

“The students here are different…more focused,” said Ray. “Nexenta is one of the most international companies I’ve worked for, and the unique makeup of the students at CU Denver matches that diversity, which is really great.”

Victoria Broce, a representative from RTD, said that this was one of the best job fairs she has attended. “I like that it’s focused and we know who we’re dealing with,” she said. “We typically don’t take applications on-site, but today, we did. We will definitely be back next year.”

Photos courtesy of the CU Denver Career Center

NSF CAREER Award supports work in smart polymers

Yakacki (9-12)-WEBAssistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Christopher Yakacki received a 2014 National Science Foundation CAREER Award. Yakacki’s CAREER award project, “A Two-Stage Processing Approach to Shape-Switching Liquid-Crystalline Elastomers for Biomedical Applications,” is a five-year investigation into the development of a reaction mechanism to tailor and manufacture liquid-crystalline elastomers (LCEs) for biomedical applications.

LCEs are a class of smart polymers that can repeatedly change shape and optical properties in response to a stimulus, such as heat or light. Traditionally, LCEs have been difficult to synthesize and manufacture for applications such as biomedical devices. This CAREER award is to investigate a new approach and reaction mechanism to tailor and manufacture these materials for biomedical applications, specifically shape-changing biomedical devices.

Yakacki’s CAREER award will also serve to create summer workshops for local high school students, which will give them a hands-on experience in how smart polymers can be used in biomedical applications. Using this new technology, Yakacki will apply his teaching and industry experience to design and develop interference devices for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, which also illustrates how the fields of mechanical engineering, materials science, and bioengineering can combine. He hopes to show that engineering isn’t a confined area of study, and that although there are individual degree programs, engineers often solve problems using an interdisciplinary approach. Through this endeavor, Yakacki wants to give students a better look at how a college education can lead to unique, real-world opportunities and experiences.

Benninger to receive 2015 Young Fluorescence Investigator Award

Richard Benninger has been selected for the 2015 Young Fluorescence Investigator Award, to be presented at this year’s Biophysical society annual meeting. The Young Fluorescence Investigator Award is given to an outstanding researcher at the beginning of his or her career for significant advancements and/or contributions in or using fluorescence methodologies. This award is sponsored by Horiba Jobin Yvon and consists of a $1,000 honorarium and an invitation to present a 20-minute research talk at the Fluroescence Subgroup Meeting during the Biophysical Society Annual meeting.

Carpenter and Yakacki published in the Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials

Mechanical engineering assistant professors Dana Carpenter and Christopher Yakacki have published their first jointly authored paper, which is featured in this month’s issue of Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials.

The study, titled “Monotonic and cyclic loading behavior of porous scaffolds made from poly (para-phenylene) for orthopedic applications,” was designed to integrate medical imaging, computer models, and mechanical testing to uncover the relationships between the porous structure and mechanical behavior of porous polymer scaffolds. These scaffolds have potential applications in a range of different medical devices, including orthopedic implants.

This research is the result of a collaboration between the CU Denver Smart Materials and Biomechanics Lab and investigators Carl Frick, Ray Fertig and Joe Hoyt at the University of Wyoming.

Marshall aims to discover why cyclists break the law

Wesley Marshall, Assistant Professor Civil Engineering

Wesley Marshall, Assistant Professor
Civil Engineering

Have you ever seen a cyclist run a red light or fly through a stop sign? Our very own, Wesley Marshall, assistant professor of civil engineering, is looking for the answer as to why some cyclists don’t follow the law.

Read about his research in the Washington Post and on CBC News in British Columbia.

EnteroTrack Commercializing Device for Non-Invasive Inflammation Monitoring

Non-invasive device enables better monitoring of esophageal disease and inflammation. 

AURORA, Colo., January 6, 2015 – EnteroTrack, LLC and the University of Colorado (CU) have executed an exclusive license agreement that will allow the company to develop and market a novel device to monitor inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

Diagnosing inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract such as eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), severe gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), eosinophilic gastroenteritis (EGE), food allergic enteropathy (FAE), and inflammatory bowel disease (lBD) is often difficult, since blood tests and radio-imaging aren’t able to pinpoint the cause of inflammation. Ultimately, many patients must undergo endoscopy – use of an instrument to visualize the esophagus and collect samples for testing.

EnteroTrack LLC is developing a capsule that allows for simple, low-cost analysis of esophageal content. The capsule can help identify the presence of esophageal inflammation, leading to faster treatment. The capsule can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment, and in the future may also be used to help diagnose esophageal diseases.

The company was formed as a result of a partnership between Glenn T. Furuta, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at the CU School of Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus and a pediatric gastroenterologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado; Robin Shandas, Ph.D., professor and chair of bioengineering at the University of Colorado Denver, College of Engineering and Applied Science; and Steven Ackerman, Ph.D., a professor of biochemistry at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago.

“This partnership represents the best aspect of academic medicine,” said Furuta. “We have been able to successfully collaborate in a multi-disciplinary fashion to develop and execute a plan that will ultimately improve the lives children and adults with gastrointestinal diseases.” Furuta developed the technology in collaboration with Ackerman; the duo then approached Shandas to move the idea from the university research lab into a commercial entity.

At that time, Children’s Hospital Colorado stepped in to provide seed funding to the company, supporting the innovative research of the researchers and recognizing the opportunity to positively impact the lives of children with inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal track.

“Given the increasing pressures to contain costs, there is clear rationale for innovative, cost-effective methods to monitor esophageal diseases,” said Shandas, who is acting as the company’s interim CEO. “This technology holds particular promise because it can reduce total patient care costs while keeping good margins. We hope to obtain FDA approval for the device in 2015.”

About EnteroTrack
EnteroTrack aims to be a key player in the field of detecting gastrointestinal (GI) biomarkers to monitor various diseases in children and adults. In contrast to current, more invasive approaches or less direct methods, the company’s products are minimally invasive and targeted for specific organs and diseases. The diagnostic market for GI diseases in the US exceeds $1B annually. The company has received funding from Children’s Hospital Colorado, and from the State of Colorado’s Bioscience Discovery and Evaluation Grant program.