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.