Pizano named 2018 Outstanding Staff

pizano_roxanneRoxanne Pizano, program coordinator in the Department of Civil Engineering, has been named the 2018 recipient of the College of Engineering and Applied Science Outstanding Staff award. Roxanne manages graduate admissions and the construction engineering and management program for civil engineering. She will receive a commemorative plaque at the college Year-End Celebration on May 11.

Congratulations!

Team Odyssey takes second place at NASA rover competition

photos courtesy of www.facebook.com/UCDOdyssey/

A team of mechanical engineering senior design students—Team Odyssey—took second place last Friday in Huntsville, Alabama at the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge. The team also brought home the featherweight award, which rewards teams that best meet the weight minimization challenge.

The team—Joshua Brill, Jeffrey Deutsch, Jessie Gibbons, Will Glass, Luke Makowski, Ryan McCort, Kayla McDermott, Kyle Osborne, Robert Sallee, Khyrsten Tatum, Tony Tieu, Alex Wamain, Nathan Webster and Tyler Wilson—competed against 70 other teams that were tasked with driving their rover through a course designed with obstacles similar to what one would find on surfaces in space. The team completed the half-mile course in 5:01 minutes. The team has been featured on CBS4 and on 9NEWS.

Per NASA’s website, the planned course for the competition requires two students, one female and one male, to traverse a terrain that includes a simulated field of asteroid debris — boulders from 5 to 15 inches across; an ancient stream bed with pebbles approximately 6 inches deep; and erosion ruts and crevasses of varying widths and depths. The challenge’s weight and time requirements encourage compactness, light weight, high performance and efficiency. As part of the competition — before their first time on the course—rover entries are tested to see that they would fit into a lander equipment bay, a maximum 5 feet by 5 feet by 5 feet in volume. Teams earn points by assembling the rover in the allotted time; designing a rover that is lightweight; successfully completing course obstacles; performing tasks throughout the mission; and meeting pre- and post-challenge requirements. Each team is permitted two excursions: The greater score of the two excursions will be used for the final team score.

Congratulations, Team Odyssey. We hope to see you at senior design on May 11.

Lennon receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program predoctoral fellowship 

Mallory Lennon, a second-year PhD candidate in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus, has been awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) predoctoral fellowship under the mentorship of Dr. Jeffrey Jacot, Associate Professor of bioengineering. Mallory’s project seeks to understand structural heart development in children born with only one ventricle in the heart, a birth defect known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), which occurs in about 1,800 births per year in the United States,has a survival rate of only 27% in the first year, and requires several surgeries over many years. Mallory will collect cells from amniotic fluid at the birth of infants with HLHS, make those cells into heart muscle in the laboratory using a recently published technique from the Jacot lab, and measure specific responses to the mechanical forces encountered during development. She expects that this understanding can be matched to genetic signaling and increase the prediction and diagnosis of HLHS as well as suggest future treatments. Mallory obtained her BS in Biomedical Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology, graduating Summa Cum Laude. She has previously been a recipient of the American Heart Association summer fellowship, and the TL1 (T32) Pre-doctoral Fellowship from the Colorado Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

ASCE TWO FOR TWO IN SOUTH DAKOTA

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(CU Denver’s pre-design team left-to-right: Dan Barlow, Nathan Werner, Khalil Elareir, Badr Husini, Philip Taylor, and Liz Taylor; not pictured: Whitney Benson)

CU Denver’s delegation was small at this weekend’s American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Rocky Mountain Student Conference in Rapid City, South Dakota, but they punched well above their weight.

CU Denver’s Pre-Design Team won first place, beating out seven other schools. Their water supply system design supplied variable amounts of water to specified locations using nothing more than a single valve and clever plumbing, earning a first-place finish with 84 out of a possible 100 points.

In addition, ASCE student chapter Vice President Nathan Werner was part of the first place team in the Mystery Design competition. In this year’s Mystery Design, each student was randomly paired with students from three other schools. Nathan’s team, which included himself and one student each from Colorado School of Mines, New Mexico State University and Brigham Young University, put together the winning bid for a project to clean biofilm from the Catskill Aqueduct.  

In short, our ASCE student chapter competed in two events at this year’s conference and won both of them! We are hopeful CU Denver can participate in additional events at next year’s conference at CU Boulder.

WICS teaches coding to Highlands Ranch Middle School students

outreachpic2The CU Denver Women in Computer Science (WICS) student group has been busy teaching classes at Highlands Ranch Middle School this semester.

The computer science juniors and seniors taught middle school students about programming, highlighted how the ample uses of code in today’s world, and talked about how a career in coding could benefit their lives.

WICS president Tegan Straley says, “It was fantastic to see the enjoyment of problem-solving in action when the students began practicing the Scratch programming language. The classes were valuable for everyone involved, and WICS is looking forward to many more future outreach events!”

ASCE President Kristina Swallow presents distinguished lecture

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From L to R: Philip Taylor, Badr Husini, Caroline Clevenger, Kristina Swallow, Moatassem Abdallah, Aaron Leopold

On Wednesday, February 28, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) President Kristina Swallow visited CU Denver and presented a lecture, “Engineering the Future” to more than 100 engineering students, faculty, and industry partners. The message: how to best prepare future civil engineers to meet the challenges in our aging infrastructure, innovation of new technologies and capabilities that will enable us to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Ms. Swallow also encouraged the attendees to have the necessary “courageous conversations” to promote sustainability and resiliency in our infrastructure and civil engineering. The visit was coordinated by the CU Denver ASCE student chapter and faculty in the Construction Engineering and Management (CEM) program.

While here, Ms. Swallow also spoke with the CEM advisory board, toured the campus and attended a dinner with campus and college leadership hosted by Chancellor Dorothy Horrell and Paul Boulos, president-elect of the Academy of Coastal, Ocean, Port & Navigation Engineers.

Read the ASCE story.

Mays links groundwater, biogeochemistry and chaos through supercomputing

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Associate Professor David Mays

With several colleagues and students, civil engineering associate professor David Mays is pioneering a new approach to clean up contaminated groundwater. According to the National Ground Water Association, groundwater—the water occupying the space between soil grains and fractured rocks in the Earth’s crust—provides drinking water to 44% of Americans plus more than 50 billion gallons per day for agricultural irrigation. When groundwater becomes contaminated, however, cleanup is no easy task.

“Groundwater remediation is a challenge for several reasons,” Mays notes, “For one thing, it is hard to manage subsurface resources, simply because they are out of sight. We share this challenge with geotechnical and petroleum engineers. Second, groundwater remediation works through a complex system of linked hydrological, microbiological, and geochemical processes that we call hydrobiogeochemistry. And third, because groundwater moves slowly, there is essentially no turbulence, which is really frustrating for anyone wanting to mix treatment chemicals into subsurface contaminants. So the cleanup problem is important, invisible, complex, and slow.”

Over the last several decades, researchers from the Environmental and Molecular Sciences Laboratory at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed cutting-edge, sophisticated computer model simulations to understand the hydrobiogeochemistry of groundwater remediation.

Mays explains, “These models account for groundwater flow, geochemical reactions, and microbiological processes, which boils down to solving staggeringly large systems of equations on their Cascade supercomputer. And then, what is really impressive, the team from PNNL can validate the simulations with gene expression data taken from a field site. It’s great stuff.”

While PNNL has been working to address the complexity of groundwater remediation, Mays and colleagues have been working to improve mixing in groundwater aquifers by applying new ideas from chaos theory. According to the fluid mechanics research literature, chaotic advection—where flows have sensitive dependence on initial conditions—provide the best possible mixing in the absence of turbulence. “It sounds like rocket science,” Mays comments, “but actually chaos theory can be quite simple. For us, it boils down to stretching and folding the plume of injected treatment chemical, kind of like a saltwater taffy machine.” This work has been supported by NSF grants awarded in 2011 and 2014, and is illustrated in a short animation.

The goal now is to incorporate chaotic advection into PNNL’s existing computer simulation of hydrobiogeochemistry. Mays explains, “Fortunately, this can be done by a fairly straightforward modification of the hydraulic boundary conditions that does not require changing the overall model architecture. And this has been fun. When I started at CU Denver in 2005, I never imagined that I would ever be doing research with a supercomputer.” Work is in progress, but preliminary results have been presented at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana in December 2017, and most recently at the Hydrologic Sciences and Water Resources Engineering Seminar at CU Boulder in January 2018.

Mays Hosts Indigenous STEM Affinity Group

Civil engineering associate professor David Mays has formed an affinity group within the National Science Foundation’s INCLUDES program, where INCLUDES stands for Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers of Engineering and Science. This affinity group brings together principal investigators (PIs), evaluators, and NSF program officers interested in Indigenous science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), where the term Indigenous comprises the terms Native American, American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Hawaiian Native.

Mays writes, “Under the leadership of NSF director France Córdova, INCLUDES has been designated as one of NSF’s Ten Big Ideas. I am happy to be involved with this effort, because it builds on my prior experience with Teach for America and with my interest in sharing quality engineering education with anyone and everyone. Forming the Indigenous STEM affinity group made a lot of sense, because we can learn a lot from colleagues at other institutions who are united by a common awareness of the value of Indigenous STEM.”

Mays is co-PI on an INCLUDES design and development grant, active from 2018-2019, to build a network of tribal and government partners for Environmental Stewardship of Indigenous Lands. Mays continues, “This undergraduate certificate program, spearheaded by PI and biology associate professor Timberley Roane, is a first-of-its kind program designed to provide students with training in STEM, plus additional training in cross-cultural communication, historical awareness, and facilitation designed to prepare graduates for careers as tribal liaisons. It’s a unique program designed to fill a known gap in our educational system.” Other co-PIs include Grace RedShirt Tyon, director of CU Denver’s American Indian Student Services; Brenda Allen, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion; and Rafael Moreno-Sanchez, environmental science associate professor.

Mays Edits Special Issue of Open-Access Journal Water

David-Mays- (10-2014)-webCivil engineering associate professor David Mays has been appointed co-editor for a special issue of Water, focused on groundwater contamination and remediation:

http://www.mdpi.com/journal/water/special_issues/Groundwater_Contamination_Remediation

Mays will be co-editing this special issue with Tim Scheibe of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Mays writes, “We hope to solicit a nice group of papers within the broad field of groundwater contamination and remediation, including (but not limited to) processes controlling contaminant sources, transport, and fate in the subsurface; methods to identify the concentration and extent of contaminant plumes; and novel approaches to predict and enhance the performance of remediation techniques.”

Water is a peer-reviewed journal published by Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) of Basel, Switzerland and indexed on the Web of Science. Water will be accepting manuscript submissions this special issue through Wednesday 6/20/2018.