Category Archives: News

Michigan Tech Society of Women Engineers Students Attend WE17 Conference

WE17

Fourteen members and an adviser of the Michigan Tech Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Section attended the annual National SWE WE17 Conference from October 25-29, 2017, in Austin, Texas.

Participants attended sessions on a variety of topics, networked with company representatives at the Career Fair with over 300 STEM based companies and celebrated women in Engineering. Michigan Tech members volunteered at Invent It! Build It! (an outreach activity for middle and high school girls).

Gretchen Hein, SWE Section adviser and faculty in Engineering Fundamentals, presented on two topics: the results of a survey of SWE Women in Academia members and whether or not there are gender differences in student performance first-year engineering courses.

Whether it was learning about making SWE more inclusive to women of color or learning to be a grateful leader in the workforce, the conference provided members with a variety of opportunities. They eagerly anticipate another opportunity to grow, network and celebrate women in STEM at SWE WE18 Conference next fall in Minneapolis.


New Engineering Faculty Fall 2017

Biomedical Engineering

Sang Yoon Han
Sang Yoon Han

Sang Yoon Han, PhD

Sang Yoon Han joins Michigan Tech’s Department of Biomedical Engineering as an assistant professor. He received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Washington in 2012.

Han has teaching experience at the University of Washington, as well as mentoring experience. He has multiple publications, awards and patents.

Chemical Engineering

Andre R. Da Costa
Andre R. Da Costa

Andre Da Costa, PhD

Andre Da Costa joins Michigan Tech’s Department of Chemical Engineering as a professor with an endowed chair in chemical process safety. Da Costa earned his PhD in chemical engineering from the University of New South Wales in Australia. He is fluent in five languages—Spanish, English, Portuguese, Russian and French.

Da Costa served as the director and chief engineer at Pacific Gas & Electric Company prior to coming to Michigan Tech. He has also conducted extensive research on membrane technologies and holds 14 patents. He has received multiple competitive grants and serves as a chair of the Process Safety Subcommittee of the American Gas Association. Da Costa was recognized with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Gary Leach Award in 2004 for his contributions to the development and oversight of professional training programs.

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Stephen M. Morse
Stephen M. Morse

Stephen Morse, PhD

Stephen Morse joins Michigan Tech’s Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics as an assistant professor. He received his PhD in Civil Engineering from Texas Tech University.

Morse taught as an assistant professor at Texas Tech University. He also has multiple awards and publications.

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Anthony (Tony) Pinar
Anthony (Tony) Pinar

Anthony Pinar, PhD

Anthony Pinar joins Tech’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering as a lecturer. Pinar earned his PhD in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Tech, as well as his undergraduate degree.

He has worked at Tech as an instructor, as well as a co-advisor for an Enterprise group of four independent teams. He also has published in multiple journals.

Engineering Fundamentals

Michelle Jarvie-Eggart
Michelle Jarvie-Eggart

Michelle Jarvie-Eggart, PhD

Michelle Jarvie-Eggart joins Michigan Tech’s Department of Engineering Fundamentals as a senior lecturer. Jarvie-Eggart is no stranger to Michigan Tech, having been an instructor in civil and environmental engineering. She received her PhD in Environmental Engineering from Tech in 2007.

She has been an instructor at six universities. She has worked at Barr Engineering and Cliffs Natural Resources, Inc. She has many publications and awards and has been UP chapter president of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration since 2014.

Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Mark Kulie
Mark Kulie

Mark Kulie, PhD

Mark Kulie joins Michigan Tech’s Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences as an assistant professor. He received his PhD in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before coming to Tech, he held research positions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Kulie has also taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, North Carolina State University and Madison College. He has received the Exceptional Service Award for Teaching and the NASA Group Achievement Award as part of the Global Precipitation Measurement Post-Launch Team. Along with the many awards he has received, Kulie also has several publications.

Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Parisa Abadi
Parisa Abadi

Parisa Abadi, PhD

Parisa Abadi joins Michigan Tech’s Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics as an assistant professor. She received her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2013.

Abadi has experience in teaching and research. She has multiple publications and received awards, including the Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the American Association of University Women in 2015. She is also a member of many professional societies, such as the Society of Women Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Physical Society.

Steven Goldsmith
Steven Goldsmith

Steven Goldsmith, PhD

Steven Goldsmith joins Michigan Tech’s Departments of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics and Computer Science as a research professor. He has held this position previously. He received his PhD in Engineering from the University of New Mexico in 1989.

Goldsmith has multiple reports, publications and patents. He has also held many positions in academia, including lecturer and researcher. Goldsmith retired as a distinguished member of the technical staff of Sandia National Laboratories after 32 years of service.

Hassan Masoud
Hassan Masoud

Hassan Masoud, PhD

Hassan Masoud joins Michigan Tech’s Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics as an assistant professor. He earned his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Prior to coming to Tech, Masoud worked as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Nevada. He is a reviewer for multiple journals, including the European Journal of Computational Mechanics, and has published in several journals. He is also a member of the American Physical Society and the Society of Engineering Science.


Catechol-Based Adhesive Research

Bruce P. Lee
Bruce P. Lee, Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Research by Ameya R. Narkar, Jonathan D. Kelley, Rattapol Pinnaratip, and Bruce P Lee has been accepted in Biomacromolecules.

DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.7b01311

Effect of Ionic Functional Groups on the Oxidation State and Interfacial Binding Property of Catechol-Based Adhesive” involves the study of marine mussels, which secrete catechol-containing adhesive proteins for underwater binding to surfaces like ship hulls and docks Catechol has been used by scientists and engineers around the world to design synthetic adhesives and coatings for wide ranges of applications. It can be used in tissue adhesive, tissue engineering scaffold, coating for preventing adhesion of bacteria, and so on.

It is shown, however, that in the presence of neutral to basic pH (for example, pH 7.4 in the body or pH 7.5-8.4 in the ocean), catechol oxidizes, leading to reduced adhesive strength. Mussels actually utilize multiple adhesive proteins with various ingenious designs to prevent catechol oxidation and to preserve strong adhesion. The adhesive proteins exhibit antioxidant properties, hydrophobicity for avoiding contact with basic sea water, and other methods in order to optimize adhesion.

We found that incorporation of acidic functional groups in the adhesive network can also prevent catechol oxidation, preserving strong adhesion, even up to a pH of 8.5. This is a much simpler approach than what the mussels employ and potentially easier for designing synthetic mimics of these adhesive proteins. This means that we will be able to design biomimetic adhesives for biomedical applications and underwater applications, which are the basic pH environments of interest.


Vital signs—Powering heart monitors with motion artifacts

Electrocardiogram research Ye Sarah Sun

More than 90 percent of US medical expenditures are spent on caring for patients who cope with chronic diseases. Some patients with congestive heart failure, for example, wear heart monitors 24/7 amid their daily activities.

Ye Sarah Sun
Ye Sarah Sun, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Michigan Tech researcher Ye Sarah Sun develops new human interfaces for heart monitoring. “There’s been a real trade-off between comfort and signal accuracy, which can interfere with patient care and outcomes,” she says. Sun’s goal is to provide a reliable, personalized heart monitoring system that won’t disturb a patient’s life. “Patients need seamless monitoring while at home, and also while driving or at work,” she says.

Sun has designed a wearable, self-powered electrocardiogram (ECG) heart monitor. “ECG, a physiological signal, is the gold standard for diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, but it is a weak signal,” Sun explains. “When monitoring a weak signal, motion artifacts arise. Mitigating those artifacts is the greatest challenge.”

Sun and her research team have discovered and tapped into the mechanism underlying the phenomenon of motion artifacts. “We not only reduce the in uence of motion artifacts but also use it as a power resource,” she says.

Their new energy harvesting mechanism provides relatively high power density compared with traditional thermal and piezoelectric mechanisms. Sun and her team have greatly reduced the size and weight of an ECG monitoring device compared to a traditional battery-based solution. “The entire system is very small,” she says, about the size of a pack of gum.

“We not only reduce the influence of motion artifacts but also use it as a power resource.”

Ye Sarah Sun

Unlike conventional clinical heart monitoring systems, Sun’s monitoring platform is able to acquire electrophysiological signals despite a gap of hair, cloth, or air between the skin and the electrodes. With no direct contact to the skin, users can avoid potential skin irritation and allergic contact dermatitis, too—something that could make long-term monitoring a lot more comfortable.

Ye Sarah Sun self-powered ECG heart monitor
Sun’s self-powered ECG heart monitor works despite a gap of hair, cloth or air between the user’s skin and the electrodes.

Where rubber becomes the road—Testing sustainable asphalt technologies

Zhanping You research team
A Michigan Tech research team led by Zhanping You tests a new, cooler way to make rubberized asphalt.

Over 94% of the roads in the United States are paved with asphalt mix. Each year, renovating old highways with new pavement consumes about 360 million tons of raw materials. It also generates about 60 million tons of old pavement waste and rubble.

Zhanping You, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Zhanping You, Civil & Environmental Engineering

Recycling these waste materials greatly reduces the consumption of neat, unmodified asphalt mix and lowers related environmental pollution. But blending recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) with fresh asphalt mix presents several challenges, potentially limiting its usefulness.

Not to Michigan Tech researcher Zhanping You. “One noticeable issue of using RAP in asphalt pavement is the relatively weaker bond between the RAP and neat asphalt, which may cause moisture susceptibility,” he explains. “Modifying the asphalt mix procedure and selecting the proper neat asphalt can effectively address this concern.”

You tests a variety of recycled materials to improve asphalt pavement performance. Crumb rubber, made from scrap tires, is one such material. “Crumb rubber used in asphalt reduces rutting and cracks, extends life, and lowers noise levels. Another plus—building one mile of road with crumb rubber uses up to 2,000 scrap tires. Hundreds of millions of waste tires are generated in the US every year,” he adds.

Adding crumb rubber to asphalt mix has its own share of problems. “When crumb rubber is blended into asphalt binder, the stiffness of the asphalt binder is increased. A higher mixing temperature is needed to preserve the flowability. Conventional hot-mix asphalt uses a lot of energy and releases a lot of fumes. We use a foaming process at lower temperatures that requires less energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Building one mile of road with crumb rubber uses up to 2,000 scrap tires. Hundreds of millions of waste tires are generated in the US every year.”

—Zhanping You

You and his team integrate state-of-the-art rheological and accelerated-aging tests, thermodynamics, poromechanics, chemical changes, and multiscale modeling to identify the physical and mechanical properties of foamed asphalt materials. With funding from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, they have constructed test sections of road in two Michigan counties to monitor field performance.

Another possible solution is asphalt derived from biomass. You’s team used bio oil in asphalt and found it improved pavement performance. They’re also investigating nanomaterial-modified asphalt. “Soon we’ll have mix recipes to adapt to all environmental and waste supply streams,” he says.


The holy grail of energy storage—Solving the problems of lithium anodes

Samsung exploded phone
A damaged Samsung Galaxy Note 7 after its lithium battery caught fire. Photo Credit: Shawn L. Minter, Associated Press

State-of-the-art mechanical characterization of pure lithium metal, performed at submicron-length scales, provides signifcant physical insight into critical factors that limit the performance of next generation energy storage devices.

Erik Herbert, Michigan Tech
Erik Herbert, Materials Science & Engineering

Compared to competing technology platforms, a pure lithium anode potentially offers the highest possible level of volumetric and gravimetric energy density. Gradual loss of lithium over the cycle life of a battery prevents the full fruition of this energy technology.

Michigan Tech researchers Erik Herbert, Stephen Hackney, and their collaborators at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Michigan are investigating the behavior of a lithium anode accessed through, and protected by, polycrystalline superionic solid electrolytes. Their goals: Mitigate the loss of lithium; prevent dangerous side reactions; and enable safe, long-term, and high-rate cycling performance.

“We want to maintain efficient cycling of lithium in a battery over many cycles, something that’s never been done before,” says Herbert. “The fundamental challenge is figuring out how to maintain a coherent interface between the lithium anode and the solid electrolyte. Defects formed in the lithium during cycling determine the stability and resistivity of the interface. Once we see how that happens, it will reveal design rules necessary to successfully fabricate the solid electrolyte, and the battery packaging.”

The team is launching parallel efforts to address these issues. Herbert, for his part, wants to learn exactly how lithium is consumed on a nanoscale level, in real time. “We want to know why the interface becomes increasingly resistive with cycling, how the electrolyte eventually fails, how defects in the lithium migrate, agglomerate, or anneal with further cycling or time, and whether softer electrolytes can be used without incursion of metallic lithium into the electrolyte,” he says. “We also want to learn how processing and fabrication affect interface performance.”

“We want to maintain efficient cycling of lithium in a battery over many cycles, something that’s never been done before.”

Erik Herbert

polycrystalline lithium film
Surface of the polycrystalline lithium film, with over 100 residual impressions from targeted test sites

To answer these questions, Herbert conducts nano-indentation studies on vapor-deposited lithium films, various sintered solid electrolytes, and lithium films in fully functional solid-state batteries.

“The data from these experiments directly enable exam-ination of the complex coupling between lithium’s micro-structure, its defects, and its mechanical behavior,” says Herbert. “So far we’ve gained a better understanding of the mechanisms lithium utilizes to manage pressure (stress) as a function of strain, strain rate, temperature, defect structure, microstructural length scale, and in-operando cycling of the battery.”


Prevascularization of Natural Nanofibrous Extracellular Matrix

Lijun Zhang (former research fellow), Zichen Qian, Shaohai Qi (collaborator), and Feng Zhao have an accepted manuscript “Prevascularization of Natural Nanofibrous Extracellular Matrix for Engineering Completely Biological 3D Prevascularized Tissues for Diverse Applications” in the Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine.

Feng Zhao is an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Zhao specializes in stem cell and tissue engineering research.

doi: 10.1002/term.2512

The study indicated that a preformed functional vascular network provides an effective solution for solving the mass transportation problem in large engineered tissues after implantation. Microvessels were created on a stem cell sheet by controlling microenvironmental parameters including oxygen and nanostructure. The prevascularized stem cell sheet holds great promise for engineering 3D prevascularized tissues for diverse applications.

3D Prevascularized Tissue
3D Prevascularized Tissue

AV START Act May Boost Autonomous Vehicle Testing

Gary Peters and Jeff Naber
U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and Jeff Naber

HOUGHTON — Testing of autonomous vehicles, such as that being done at Michigan Technological University, could get a boost with legislation working its way through Congress.

The American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in October. U.S. Sen.

Gary Peters, D-Mich., sponsored the bill along with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., is a co-sponsor of the legislation.

In March, Peters visited Tech’s Advanced Power System Research Center to get informed of Tech’s research and development efforts into autonomous vehicles.

Jeff Naber, director of the center, said the bill will enable the advancement of autonomous vehicle functions.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Garrett Neese.


Three Student Teams Chosen for Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition

3D PrintingThree Michigan Tech student teams have been chosen to compete in the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition in Detroit on Nov. 16, 2017. The student teams will compete for a total of $21,000 in funding.

Statewide, 27 teams were selected through submission of a one-minute video and a brief write-up about the company product or service, revenue model and team capabilities.

The Tech student teams are Looma, Makerhub and FitStop. Looma is a food and nutrition app that helps users eat healthier by providing preference-based recipe suggestions with integrated calendaring for preparation time and grocery lists for shopping. Makerhub is a web application that connects individuals who own 3-D printers with others who need 3-D printed parts. FitStop is a web application that connects people who are traveling for business or leisure with gyms or fitness centers in the city they are traveling to.

Three Michigan Tech-affiliated start-ups will also participate in the competition. They are StabiLux Biosciences, Goldstrike Data and Orbion.

By Jenn Donovan.


Working Luncheon, MDOT Call For Research Ideas

MDOT PavementThe MDOT Office of Research is soliciting research priority ideas for their upcoming funding years FY19/20/21. This is a great opportunity for Michigan Tech researchers from various departments to expand their research portfolio into transportation topics.

The topics are very versatile, from hard core pavement engineering to water and environmental aspects, life cycle cost engineering, even workforce development. Details on MDOT research priorities can be found here.

In the past, Michigan Tech Transportation Institute (MTTI) has submitted Tech’s research ideas to MDOT as a combined package for a stronger, unified presence. Our plans are to do so again.

From noon to1 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 9, 2017), in Dillman 309A, MTTI will be hosting a lunch meeting for discussions, gathering of ideas and to provide a setting for collaboration on the research idea topics listed. We will also share a couple of past ideas that were later turned by MDOT to RFPs and we’ll provide some insight from discussions with MDOT.

We’ve created a spreadsheet to gather information on topic ideas you’re interested in providing to MDOT. Email Pam Hannon to get a link to the spreadsheet. Contact Pam also, if you’d like to join us in the meeting by Tuesday (Nov. 7).