John Johnson Testified March 24 Before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the Committee on Science and Technology

More research is needed to improve the safety and fuel economy of the nation’s truck fleet, a Michigan Technological University faculty member told a congressional subcommittee Tuesday.

John Johnson, a presidential professor of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics, testified March 24 before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the Committee on Science and Technology. The hearing was part of a review of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Vehicle Technologies research and development programs. Specifically, subcommittee members questioned expert witnesses on the funding levels and changing market and public needs.

Johnson expressed concern over the decline in federal funding for the 21st Century Truck Partnership. In 2000, DOE launched the Partnership to explore technological improvements in commercial and military trucks and buses. Funded through the DOE, the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Partnership also involves several national research laboratories and many industrial partners.

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Roshan D’Souza Wins National Science Foundation Career Award

Roshan D’Souza, Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, has received the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious early CAREER Award.

The project, “Towards Interactive Simulation of Giga-Scale Agent-Based Models on Graphics Processing Units,” investigates techniques for efficient simulation of large scale agent-based models (ABMs). ABMs are increasingly being used to understand complex multi-scale behaviors in many natural, built, and social systems. This research investigates novel techniques designed to leverage the massive computing power available on commodity graphics processing units. It greatly expands the availability and applicability of agent-based modeling by effectively democratizing super computing for ABM simulation. Furthermore, it enables virtual testing of “what-if” scenarios in public policy, contingency planning for disaster relief, drug therapy design, etc., on inexpensive desktop computers at realistic levels of detail. The main challenge in this research is the re-formulation of ABM computation to fit the data-parallel model of GPUs. Educational topics include development of courses, outreach to K-12 students, and undergraduate research. The value of the award is $423,863 over five years.

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Laid-off Engineers Learning New Skills: Classes Focus on Hybrids and Electrics

A free class in hybrid and electric vehicle development offered to out-of-work engineers could become a model as Michigan tries to keep its skilled workforce from leaving the state.

About 60 engineers from their 20s to their 50s just began the class, which is a joint effort by Michigan Technological University, the Engineering Society of Detroit and General Motors.

“This is an opportunity to put some new skills in my toolbox,” said Kimberly Calloway, 38, of Southfield, a 15-year electrical engineer Ford laid off in August. “I’ll add the certificate from the class to my resume. It will give me an advantage when I’m interviewing.”

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Dr. Jeffrey S. Allen Selected to Receive a 2009 Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award

Dr. Jeffrey Allen, Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering, has been selected for a 2009 SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award.

The Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award reflects the firm belief of its donor that engineering educators are the most effective link between engineering students and their future careers, the SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Fund’s major program is focused on younger engineering educators. Its objective is to provide an engineering atmosphere in which these teachers can meet and exchange views with practicing engineers. The current decade places greater expectations upon the colleges and universities of the world to educate individuals who must successfully meet the challenges that face society. The purpose of the Teetor Award is to recognize and honor those younger educators who are successfully preparing engineers for this task.

The Award Committee stated “The credentials and standards of excellence in education of this year’s candidates were extremely high and brought about some very keen competition. Your outstanding contributions have distinguished you as one of the top engineering educators.”

As a Teetor Award recipient, Dr. Allen will be SAE’s guest for the week of SAW 2009 World Congress & Expositions which begins April 20, 2009 in Detroit, MI.

PhD Candidate Mark Greip Awarded Nanotechnology Paper

Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (ME-EM) PhD candidate Mark Griep was awarded the best paper award in the nanotechnology category at the recently held 26th Army Science Conference. His co-author was Dr.Shashi Karna, who is also a member of the ME-EM External Advisory Board. In addition, of the 845 paper submissions they were awarded the Bronze Medal for the 2nd best paper of the entire conference. The research work was done while Mark was a Guest Researcher at the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) this year. His advisor is Dr. Craig R. Friedrich.

Michigan Tech Receives $1.5 Million Grant for Developing Flex-Fuel Hybrid Technologies

The Michigan Public Service Commission has awarded a team of Michigan Technological University researchers $1.5 million to develop technologies for flex-fuel hybrid vehicles.

The grant builds on over $1 million in support from General Motors, Sensors Inc. of Saline, Argonne National Laboratory’s Transportation Technology R&D Center and Michigan Tech.

“There is no flex-fuel hybrid available, partly because it’s a big challenge to meet emissions standards,” said lead investigator Jeff Naber, an associate professor of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics and director of Michigan Tech’s Advanced Power Systems Research Center.

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From Xbox to T-Cells: Michigan Tech Researchers Borrow Video Game Technology to Model Human Biology

A team of researchers at Michigan Technological University is harnessing the computing muscle behind the leading video games to understand the most intricate of real-life systems.

Led by Roshan D’Souza, the group has supercharged agent-based modeling, a powerful but computationally massive forecasting technique, by using graphic processing units (GPUs), which drive the spectacular imagery beloved of video gamers. In particular, the team aims to model complex biological systems, such as the human immune response to a tuberculosis bacterium.

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John Johnson Invited Member to National Research Council Committee on Fuel Economy of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles

Dr. John Johnson, Presidential Professor Emeritus, has been invited to join the National Research Council’s Committee on Fuel Economy of Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles. His appointment will be effective through May 2010.

The committee will conduct an assessment of fuel economy technologies for medium and heavy-duty vehicles. According to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, Section 108, the study is to develop a report evaluating medium-duty and heavy-duty truck fuel economy standards. The committee will 1) consider appropriate approaches to measuring fuel economy for medium- and heavy duty vehicles that would be required for setting standards; 2) assess current and potential technologies and estimate improvements in fuel economy for medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks that might be achieved; 3) address how the technologies identified in Task 2 above may be used practically to improve medium-duty and heavy-duty truck fuel economy; 4) address how such technologies may be practically integrated into the medium-duty and heavy-duty truck manufacturing process; 5)assess how such technologies may be used to meet fuel economy standards to be prescribed under section 32902(k) of title 49, United States Code, as amended by Section 108; 6) discuss the pros and cons of approaches to improving the fuel efficiency of moving goods in the trucking sector against setting vehicle fuel economy standards; and 7) identify the potential costs and other impacts on the operation of medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks. The study committee will not recommend a standard but the results of its analysis will give guidance to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as it moves forward with how to address fuel economy standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks.

Bo Chen Awarded Best Paper in Computational Methods and Software at Conference

Bo Chen has received the Best Paper in Computational Methods and Software Award at the 2008 IEEE/ASME International Conference on Mechatronic and Embedded Systems and Applications in Beijing China. Her co-author was Dr. M. Tomizuka. The award was presented by the IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society, the ASME Division of Computers and Information in Engineering, and the ASME Division of Design Engineering.