Engineering students shine at 22nd annual Research and Creative Activities Symposium

On Friday, April 26, students from across the college participated in the 22nd annual Research and Creative Activities Symposium. Our students won awards in the technology, engineering and mathematics category, as well as the biomedical sciences category. A list of award winning students and their projects are below.

Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics:

1st place:
Samantha Butler, College of Engineering, Design and Computing
Mentor: Chao Liu, assistant professor of electrical engineering
“Automatic Classification of Calcifications and Masses in Breast Mammograms Using Deep Neural Networks”

3rd place:
Team HyperLynx: Andrew Gras, Wencil Stanek, Aaron Zapiler, Bejan Akhaven, Omran Haghegh, Jong Shin, College of Engineering, Design and Computing
Mentor: Satadru Dey, assistant professor of electrical engineering
“HyperLynx”

Biomedical Sciences:

3rd place (tie):
Anne Lyons, College of Engineering, Design and Computing
Mentor: Jeffrey Jacot, associate professor of bioengineering
“Optimizing Electrospun Cardiac Patches for Prevascularization Using Polymer Composites”

Honorable Mentions (tie):
Joseph Massey, College of Engineering, Design and Computing
Co-Authors: Alyssa Salazar, Krishna Kumar, Sean Reilley
Mentor: Craig Lanning, bioengineering instructor
“A Device for Individuals with Quadriplegia to Independently Control Their Beds’ Orientation to Prevent Decubitus Ulcers and Alleviate Pain”

Congratulations to these students and mentors as well as everyone who participated in this event.

Clark selected to attend Summer School in Adaptive Neurotechnologies

clarkNiki Clark, a PhD candidate in bioengineering, has been selected to participate in the second NIH-sponsored Summer School in Adaptive Neurotechnologies from July 7 – 26, in Albany New York. She is one of 24 successful applicants who will participate in lectures, hands-on training, and integrative experiences.

Per NIH, “the course will provide a select group of scientists, engineers and clinicians with the multidisciplinary knowledge and expertise needed to guide the development of new adaptive neurotechnologies from conception through laboratory and clinical evaluation to dissemination and use for important scientific or clinical purposes. The goal is to create the next generation of leaders in this burgeoning new field.”

Clark received her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in biology at Arkansas State University. She is now pursuing a PhD in bioengineering at the University of Colorado Denver under the mentorship of Dr. Cathy Bodine. Her research is focused on social assistive robotics and their use as therapeutic tools for children with cerebral palsy.

Congratulations!

Steel bridge team places first in state, third in region; headed to nationals

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2019 steel bridge team left to right, Dinesh Panta, Valerie Do, Dakota Chauncey, Professor Fred Rutz, Kyle O’Hearn, Hussain Almosawi, Dustin Doll

On April 5, the CU Denver steel bridge team competed at the regional AISC Steel Bridge Competition, which took place at CU Boulder.

The team, comprised of six civil engineering students – Hussain Almosawi, Dakota Chauncey, Valerie Do, Dustin Doll, Kyle O’Hearn and Dinesh Panta – placed first in the state and third in the Rocky Mountain region. Next month, they head to the national finals at Southern Illinois University.

“We did a wonderful job and worked marvelously as a team.  I could not be more proud of all my teammates and the things we accomplished,” said Chauncey, who served as the team captain. 

steel bridge 2The team set a personal best record build time of 11 minutes and 56 seconds, and ranked top three in many categories including stiffness (least deflection), economy (one of the faster build times after penalties) and total weight (of the bridge).

The AISC Steel Bridge Competition challenges civil engineering students through an intercollegiate competition where they are tasked to complete with a comprehensive, student-driven project from conception and design through fabrication, erection, and testing. The end result is a steel structure that meets client specifications and optimizes performance and economy.

This year’s competition challenged student teams to design a limited access, short-span bridge to cross a river near recent and past lava flows. The bridges are tested for stability, strength and serviceability, and must be able to support bicycles, pedestrians, park vehicles and emergency vehicles while prohibiting private motor vehicles. Teams were also required to construct the bridges under simulated field conditions.

“Our CU Denver engineers ranked first among all six Colorado schools and third overall,” said assistant professor Fred Rutz, the team’s faculty advisor. “While most other schools utilized the more traditional lattice truss, ours was an innovative steel arch. We benefitted from trial load tests conducted in our Structures Lab.”

Other state schools in attendance included University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, Air Force Academy, and Metropolitan State University of Denver. The event also included South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Utah State University, Brigham Young University and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

The team is now preparing for the national finals, for which they’ve set some hefty goals.

“For nationals, we are upgrading our bridge to reduce deflection and construction build time. Our goal is to build our bridge in under 10 minutes with an aggregate deflection under one inch,” said Chauncey. “We are hoping to establish the University of Colorado Denver’s Civil Engineering Department as one of the top programs in the nation, and encouraging the next class of students to became forward thinkers and carry the tradition of always pushing boundaries.”

To support the CU Denver Steel Bridge Team, donate now.

Engineering students advance to the 2019 SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition

Team HyperLynx, comprised of 18 students from mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science, has advanced the the final stage of the 2019 SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition, scheduled for July 21, 2019 at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Cali. CU Denver is the only Colorado school to advance to the final stage of the competition, and will compete against schools including Delft University of Technology and MIT. A complete list of competitors is available at www.spacex.com/hyperloop.

Hyperlynx began designing their pod more than a year ago, a process that’s included refining, redesigning, and basically starting over from scratch. The end result is a simplified, less expensive, lighter, faster pod.

Leading up to this, the team completed internal preliminary design reviews followed by critical design reviews.  They sought out subject-matter-experts from around the world with the goal of doing everything possible to learn the true scope of the project. In January, the team participated in a final design briefing with SpaceX and Boring Company engineers, which was the final hurdle to making the top 20.

The team will spend the next few months fabricating and building the pod, ensuring it’s in top shape for the late-July event.

Learn more about Team HyperLynx by visiting www.denverhyperlynx.com.

Support the team by clicking here.

ASCE organizes field trip to Rail Research Center near Pueblo, Colorado

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Left-to-right: Harold Ordonez, Courtney Crawford, Dr. Allison Goodwell, Dr. David Mays, Hannah Keller, Dr. Duane Otter, Zahra Alsafar, Dalia Aljadii, and Brandon Arndt

Rail transportation is fundamentally efficient, combining high capacity with low friction, which gives it a potentially transformative role to play as engineers design a carbon-neutral future with more trade and less traffic congestion. To get up to speed with the cutting-edge technology in this legendary industry, on Friday 12/7/2018, CU Denver sent a delegation of nine individuals to Pueblo, Colorado for a field trip to the Transportation Technology Center, which is owned and operated by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

The field trip, organized by CU Denver’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), gathered two civil engineering faculty, four civil engineering students and one professional mechanical engineer from Progress Rail, the company behind the famed Electro-Motive Division series of diesel-electric locomotives. CU Denver’s delegation also included two anthropology students, which proves that being an engineer is not necessary to appreciate the technical, historical and cultural impact of railroading on our modern world.

The delegation gathered by North Classroom at 6 a.m., then started a personalized tour at 10 a.m., hosted by AAR’s Duane Otter. Over the following five hours, Otter provided a phenomenal overview of the breadth, depth and rigor of the research performed at the one-of-a-kind facility, comprising 52 square miles, where every aspect of railroad technology is tested—track, trains and signals. For example, AAR operates a test track where an overloaded coal train runs all night to deliberately wear out track components. Those track components include several Victorian bridges, constructed of riveted steel, whose continued satisfactory performance has been demonstrated in the most compelling manner—by monitoring deflections with strain gages while overloaded coal trains pass every four minutes.

ASCE faculty advisor David Mays would like to thank Otter and all the participants for making this field trip an unqualified success. Students interested in joining ASCE may do so by contacting ASCE student chapter president Alex McPherson. Student membership is free.

CU Denver has record-breaking participation in the American Geophysical Union

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Lunch at Matchbox Pizza near Chinatown. Left-to-right: Poorya Hosseini, Allison Goodwell, Chad Renick, Laurna Kaatz, Eric Roth, Maryam Pournasiri Poshtiri, Eric Thomas, and David Mays. Not pictured: Mark Golkowski.

CU Denver’s College of Engineering and Applied Science sent its largest-ever delegation of faculty, students and alumni to the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. This meeting, held in Washington, DC December 10 – 14, 2018, brought together more than 28,500 scientists studying all aspects of the earth and environmental sciences.

This record-breaking group comprised civil engineering faculty Allison Goodwell and David Mays, who presented their hydrology research with students Laurna Kaatz and Eric Thomas, and alumni Maryam Pournasiri Poshtiri and Eric Roth. The group also included electrical engineering faculty Mark Golkowski with students Poorya Hossini and Chad Renick, who presented research on atmospheric electricity and space science. Mays also presented his NSF-sponsored work on Environmental Stewardship of Indigenous Lands.

Renick also was honored with an Outstanding Student Presentation Award for his poster, LWPC Modeling of Lightning Induced Changes in D-Region Electron Density, coauthored with Golkowski and Sandeep Sarker and Georgia Tech’s Morris Cohen. This coveted award recognizes the top few percent among literally thousands of student research presentations. Congratulations, Chad!

Civil engineering PhD student Lily Lazarraga works on pedestrian safety around George Washington High School; featured on 9News

Leetsdale Drive in Denver is part of what the city calls a high injury network. It’s one of 27 streets where more than 50 percent of crashes happen, and it runs right by George Washington High School. Transportation engineering PhD student Lily Lazarraga is researching how to make the area safer for pedestrians. She is a finalist to win a $50,000 grant to work with the city in implementing safety measures.

Watch the story on 9News.

Read the Denver7 story.

Watch the CBS4 story.

Read the Denver Post story.

Help them win $50K through the FundMyStreets grant through Zendrive.

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.

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.

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.