VeDepo receives AHA postdoctoral grant

VedepoDr. Mitchell VeDepo, a Postdoctoral Fellow of Bioengineering at the University of Colorado Denver, was recently awarded a postdoctoral grant by the American Heart Association (AHA). This award will help propel Dr. VeDepo’s project on the recellularization mechanisms for heart valve tissue engineering.

Valvular heart disease remains a significant cause of morbidity world wide and there is currently no ideal valve replacement. Dr. VeDepo’s project will help ‘build’ an ideal heart valve replacement through heart valve tissue engineering. This study will investigate the recruitment of autologous circulating cells for repopulating decellularized heart valve scaffolds using signaling chemokines and a novel bioreactor system. The results of this study will elucidate the recruitment of circulating cells and may lead to enhanced in situ recellularization of tissue engineered heart valves.

Nearly 275 students attend largest Engineering Internship and Job Fair

On Tuesday, November 6, nearly 275 students attended the CU Denver Engineering Internship and Job Fair in the Tivoli Turnhalle. This year’s job fair was the largest to-date, with 39 employers attending. And based on participant feedback, the event was a success.

  • Employers collected more than 649 resumes
  • 90% of employers reported they agree or strongly agree that the quality of candidates was good
  • 99% of students who responded to our exit survey said they felt that this event helped them feel prepared for their “next steps” in their professional development

In addition to the Career Center and the Experiential Learning Center, members from the Society of Women Engineers, Tau Beta Pi, Women in Computer Science and Association of Computing Machinery sat on the planning committee for this event.

Bodine leads panel for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine

bodine-panelOn October 24, Cathy Bodine, associate professor of bioengineering and director of Assistive Technology Partners, moderated a panel for the National Academy of Engineering, Medicine and Science on the use of artificial intelligence to create smart cities for persons with disabilities and the elderly in Washington, DC.

Key topic areas included housing, transportation and interfaces with AI.

Panelists included:
Victor Calise, New York City’s Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities
Henry Claypool, UCSF Community Living Policy Center
Jon Sanford, Georgia Tech School of Industrial Design
Gwo-Wei Torng, U.S Department of Transportation

CU Denver takes the spotlight at ASCE Annual Convention

By: Philip Taylor, civil engineering student

Denver’s booming construction scene took center stage at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Annual Convention last weekend at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Denver. In addition, CU Denver students hosted ASCE leaders, networked with industry peers and attended dozens of educational sessions at the three-day event.

ASCE’s decision to hold its 2018 convention on CU Denver’s doorstep offered students unique access to the industry’s top leaders and innovators such as Hyperloop Transportation Technologies CEO Dirk Ahlborn. Student attendees also had the opportunity to take behind-the-scenes tours of some of Denver’s biggest construction projects, including the Platte to Park Hill stormwater systems project and CDOT’s Central-70 project to overhaul and widen Interstate 70 through north Denver.

CU Denver made its own mark on the convention by hosting ASCE’s newest president, Robin Kemper, P.E., on Wednesday, Oct. 10. As ASCE president, Kemper leads the nation’s oldest engineering society. ASCE represents roughly 150,000 civil engineers in 177 countries; publishes important civil engineering literature such as the ASCE 7 standard for design loads, among many others; and is a leading organizer of educational events like this weekend’s convention as well as monthly technical dinners in Denver.

Kemper last Wednesday had breakfast with CU Denver’s ASCE Student Chapter officers and faculty advisor, Dr. David Mays, as well as Dr. Caroline Clevenger. Kemper discussed the important role ASCE student chapters play in connecting students to working engineers. She also discussed her job as a senior risk engineering consultant at Zurich Services Corp., where she advises owners, designers and contractors on professional liability, builder’s risk, risk management and best management practices. While designers and contractors play different roles in civil projects, the success of one depends on the success of the other, Kemper said. Effective communication and best practices among designers and contractors are key to limiting risks at the construction site.

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ASCE President Robin Kemper (first row, second from left) joined CU Denver students and faculty for breakfast on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

Kemper later toured the CU Denver campus and gave an hour-long presentation to Dr. Heidi Brothers’ Construction Engineering Systems course. She urged students to take full advantage of the convention’s educational sessions, tours and networking opportunities.

“Meet as many different people as you can,” Kemper said. “And talk to us gray-hairs.”

Kemper encouraged students to stick with ASCE after they graduate and consider becoming politically active. ASCE faces challenges nationwide in retaining its young members. As an incentive to graduates, ASCE offers free memberships to civil engineers during their first year in the workforce and graduated membership fees in the years that follow, Kemper said. She highlighted ASCE’s professional connections, its social and community service events, and its political lobbying on infrastructure matters. ASCE members “speak as one voice,” to policy makers in Washington, D.C., and at statehouses across the nation, Kemper said. Bills such as the Water Resources Development Act, which last week passed the Senate and authorizes billions of dollars in investments in civil works projects, help drive construction of infrastructure that improves the safety and welfare of the public.

“We’ve got your back,” Kemper said of ASCE’s advocacy work. “Public policy helps drive the future of our infrastructure and how we help the public.”

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Kemper speaks to the Construction Engineering Systems course on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

ASCE also supports construction engineering professionals, Kemper said. For example, ASCE’s Construction Institute offers construction professionals the opportunity to share best practices with their peers and take part in technical activities and conferences as well as the development of standards. The Construction Institute – whose goal is to improve communication within the engineering and construction industry, improve construction practices and burnish the image of the construction industry — is one of nine ASCE institutes that provide resources to members in specialty areas.

“You’re going to need to continue your education throughout your lives,” Kemper told students. In addition to passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, Kemper recommended student consider pursuing Envision credentials. Envision, which is a certification and training program supported by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, promotes sustainable approaches to planning, designing, constructing and operating infrastructure projects.

Sustainability was a key driver of the Platte to Park Hill Stormwater Systems Project, which seeks to protect Denver residents from extreme flooding while improving water quality in the South Plate River watershed. The project was one of the construction site tours advertised at the ASCE convention. Platte to Park Hill is a $298 million project for the City and County of Denver that will recontour the City Park Golf Course to intercept storm water; create additional stormwater detention at Park Hill; build a mile-long open drainage channel through north Denver for flood relief and recreation; and install massive below-ground conduits to safely convey stormwater to the South Platte River in Globeville. The City Park Gold Course phase of the project was procured as a design-build contract and awarded to Saunders Construction. Work began in late 2017, and the course is on schedule to reopen in summer 2019. The broader Platte to Park Hill project faces many unique construction challenges associated with building in an urban environment, including land acquisition, environmental risks, traffic management and community outreach.

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A major storm sewer at the Platte to Park Hill project. Photo courtesy of Molly Trujillo.

The ASCE convention underscored the importance of continuing education in the civil engineering profession as well as the need for good communication among civil engineering designers, project managers and contractors. It reinforced the need for innovation to ensure civil engineers continue to protect the safety, health and welfare of the public.

Faculty receive $4.5M DARPA grant for Subterranean Challenge

Researchers from CU Denver, CU Boulder and Boston-based Scientific Systems Company have partnered to design drones that can explore underground environments like subway tunnels, mines and caves.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded the team a $4.5 million grant to support its participation in its national Subterranean Challenge, which will end in fall 2021. The partners will compete against five other funded teams across the country to complete three increasingly difficult underground challenges.

The CU Denver team includes Ron Rorrer, associate professor of mechanical engineering, Mark Golkowski and Jaedo Park, associate professors of electrical engineering, Chao Liu and Vijay Harid, assistant professors of electrical engineering, and Diane Williams, research associate of electrical engineering.

Read more about the project here.

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Computer science faculty receive funding for new GAANN program

A team of faculty in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering have received finding from the Department of Education GAANN program to support a proposal titled “Data-Driven Cybersecurity.”

The project provides full PhD fellowships for up to six fellows for up to three years. Fellows will pursue their PhD degree focusing on introducing data scientific solutions to address pressing national cybersecurity concerns. 

  • Total budget: $932,814  ($746,250 federal and $186,564 non-federal/CU cost-share)
  • PI: Farnoush Banaei-Kashani
  • Co-PIs: Haadi Jafarian and Ashis Biswas
  • Project start time: October 1, 2018
  • Project period: 3 Years

Congratulations!

photos left to right: Farnuosh Banaei-Kashani, Haadi Jafarian, Ashis Biswas

Benninger’s diabetes research featured on CBS4

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Richard Benninger

Richard Benninger, associate professor of bioengineering, and members of his lab are using ultrasound technology to track Type 1 diabetes. On Friday, Sept. 21, Benninger and PhD student David Ramirez were featured on CBS4, talking about their research and how they’re using ultrasound to track changing blood flow in the pancreas, an indication of inflammation, which is a key indicator of the onset of Type 1 diabetes.

Watch the report here.

 

Summer in Guatemala helping improve water quality

In June 2018 just after completing her bachelor’s in Bioengineering from CU Denver/Anschutz Samantha Sharrar traveled with Gabriela Reyes, a current Masters in Public Health student to the CU Trifinio Clinic site in rural Guatemala for three weeks. Cassandra Howard, a Bioengineering Instructor, joined the students for the first week of their trip. The focus of the trip was the implementation of a water quality assessment project. Samantha and Gabby trained local Youth Leaders on how to use field incubators to run water quality tests on 3M™ Petrifilms. As part of the junior design course, students designed the field incubators. Samantha, Gabby and the Youth Leaders worked with community members to obtain water samples, plate the samples on the 3M™ Petrifilms and then incubate the films for 48 hours in the battery-powered field incubators. The results were then presented back to the community in a demonstration led by the youth leaders to educate community members on the importance of filtering or boiling water. One additional component of the project that was trialed during the trip was a smartphone app, built by Samantha to help automate the interpretation and data storage of the water assessments. This project was an initial pilot program for the Department of Bioengineering. The Department is now offering a 3 credit 2-week faculty-led Global Health Design course in May/June 2019. The Bioengineering faculty and students involved in the project want to thank Dr. Dan Olson, Dr. Elizabeth Carlton, Dr. Molly Lamb, Cristina Del Hoyo, Gabby Reyes, and the staff and youth leaders at the Trifinio site. 

Biomedical startup acquired by global medical technology firm

A medical device company founded by two University of Colorado Denver and CU Anschutz Medical Campus professors was recently acquired by Stryker, one of the world’s leading medical technology companies.

Dr. Omer Mei-Dan, a sports surgeon and associate professor of orthopedics at the CU School of Medicine and Dr. Robin Shandas, chair of bioengineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus collaborated on the Pivot Guardian, the industry’s first post-free hip distraction system, designed to mitigate groin complications and heel slip associated with hip arthroscopy.

Working with Dr. Jacob Segil, Instructor in Engineering Plus at the University of Colorado Boulder, and Brett Schumer, an orthopedic device consultant, Drs. Mei-Dan and Shandas created MITA LLC to bring Dr. Mei-Dan’s novel hip distraction technique to market. The terms of the sale were not disclosed.

The acquisition shows the impact of pairing clinical faculty with bioengineers to bring promising ideas to market. The total time between initial discussions and company exit was less than two years.

“The fact that our Bioengineering Department is located on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus really facilitates such multi-disciplinary interactions,” said Professor Shandas, founding chair of the department who has co-founded several other companies with clinical faculty. “We built a technical team very quickly to execute on Dr. Mei-Dan’s vision to help his patients, while at the same time building the startup company to carry the idea into commercial reality.”

Dr. Mei-Dan agreed.

“Having biomedical engineers as in-house partners who can quickly understand the clinical need, assemble a business-savvy technical team, and iterate through multiple prototypes efficiently is a huge great asset we have here on campus,” he said. “This great success gives me much confidence for future endeavors.”

Provided by CU Anschutz Medical Campus