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.

 

Mays, McIntyre and Chinnasamy published in Water Policy journal

Technical and administrative feasibility of alluvial aquifer storage and recovery on the South Platte River of northeastern Colorado

What is it about?

In a world suffering from increasing water stress, this paper offers one potential option through alluvial aquifer storage and recovery. In particular, this paper suggests a legal framework, under Colorado’s doctrine of prior appropriation, through which the proposed technology is shown to be both technically and administratively feasible.

Why is it important?

Water resource management demands not only technical feasibility, but also administrative feasibility. One cannot implement clever technical designs that violate legal, regulatory, or administrative constraints. The unique contribution of this work is its dual scope that covers both technical and administrative requirements.

Perspectives, David Mays (Author)

Bill McIntyre broke new ground in his doctoral research, some of which was published last year (McIntyre, W.C. and D.C. Mays, 2017, Roles of the water court and the State Engineer for water administration in Colorado, Water Policy, 19:4, 837-850). But it was not until master student Cibi Chinnasamy joined the team that we were able to complete the groundwater simulations required for this second publication. It was a pleasure advising both gentlemen, and I wish them all the best in their careers.

Read Publication

Engineering students make a strong showing at the Research and Creative Activities Symposium

Last Friday, 30 engineering students participated in the university’s annual Research and Creative Activities Symposium—11 bioengineering, 5 computer science, 13 electrical engineering and 1 mechanical engineering—and students from the college won first through third place in the Engineering and Math Division, first place in the Biomedical Sciences Division, and an Emerging Scholars award.

Engineering and Math

First place: Electrical engineering PhD student, Zeinab Mohammadi won first place for her poster “Real time spike clustering for electrophysiology recording” (sponsored by Tim Lei and Chao Liu)

Second place: Bioengineering undergraduate students Jacqueline Chavez, Anne Lyons, Ean Peterson, Jonathan Platt, Ian Garvin, Michel Manzanares, Mikala Mueller and Sarah Lamb won second place for their poster “Craniotomy Training Devices with Reusable Thermoplastics to Help Train Emergency Room and Trauma Surgeons” (sponsored by Craig Lanning)

Third place: Electrical engineering undergraduate student Kyle McGrath won third place for his poster “Exploring Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs) to Recognize Human Gestures in Edge Computing Environments” (sponsored by Dan Connors and a UROP)

Biomedical Sciences

First place: Bioengineering undergraduate Damon Pool won first place for his presentation entitled, “Optimization of a human induced pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocyte differentiation method to increase reliability and efficiency for downstream applications” (sponsored by Jeffrey Jacot)

Emerging Scholars Award

Computer science undergraduate students Chris Renden, Lewis Sammons and Jordan Stein won the Emerging Scholars award for their project “Shared rapid prototyping space using hand tracking and virtual reality” (sponsored by Min Choi)

Also, many thanks to the faculty, staff and graduate students who served as judges (my apologies if I missed anyone):

  • Bioengineering: Liliya Vugmeyster, Craig Lanning, Jennifer Wagner
  • Computer Science: Min Choi
  • Electrical Engineering: Md Habib Ullah, Stephen Gedney, Tim Lei
  • Mechanical Engineering: Maryam Darbeheshti

Congratulations!

Project un[Contained] places second, receives social impact award at THE CLIMB

IMG_1546On April 26, six collegiate start-up teams pitched their ideas to a panel of judges at THE CLIMB Pitch Night, hosted by the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship at the CU Denver Business School. Among the six teams was Project un[Contained] and interdisciplinary senior design project advised by Peter Jenkins, professor of mechanical engineering.

Un[Contained] won second place ($2500) and the Social Impact Award ($1000) for their deployable, multi-purpose structure made from upcycled shipping containers and deliver them to developing countries suffering from natural disasters, refugee crises and more. Students on the team include Nic Chandler (MECH), Jason Bergfalk (Architecture), Austin Zerr (MECH), Nicholas Powers (Business), Gage Brumley (MECH), Brad Dyksterhouse (MECH), Riley Hamlin (MECH), Corey McLaughlin (MECH), Jon Farmer (Architecture) and Thomas Satkowski (Business).

Read the full story here.

Congratulations!

SMAB lab study, in collaboration with Dartmouth anthropologist, published

Faculty and students from the Smart Materials and Biomechanics (SMAB) lab in the Department of Mechanical Engineering collaborated with Nathaniel Dominy, an anthropologist at Dartmouth University, to study bone daggers from New Guinea. The study looked at the composition of cassowary bone daggers and those made from human femurs, which were seen to carry a greater social prestige, to see if one was stronger than the other.

The paper, published today, has already been covered in The Washington Post, Newsweek, Science Alert, Live Science, Popular Science and more.

CU Denver mechanical engineering researchers who participated in the study include assistant professor Dana Carpenter, PhD student Sam Mills, and associate professor Chris Yakacki.

ASCE STUDENT OFFICERS WIN AWARDS FROM COLORADO SECTION

0419181944aThree civil engineering undergraduates have been selected for awards from the Colorado Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). From left to right, they are Phil Taylor, Wesley Engel, and Whitney Benson, each of whom has served as an officer in CU Denver’s ASCE Student Chapter. In addition, Taylor was selected to receive this year’s Jaqueline Arcaris Civil Engineering Scholarship, which recognizes civil engineering students with potential to become outstanding civil engineering professionals. Please join us in congratulating these award-winning ASCE student officers!

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.

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!”