Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program Hosts Midwest Virtual Rail Conference 2020

MRC Midwest Rail Conference

On Aug. 11-12, The Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program, in cooperation with the NURail Consortium and TRB Committee AR040, hosted the Midwest Rail Conference on a virtual platform.

Originally planned for Schoolcraft College, the conference was forced to an on-line platform by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. In spite of the issues, the conference moved forward with a slate of more than 30 speakers, covering issues from across the rail industry.

The final tally included nearly 300 participants. Trains Magazine produced an article recognizing the conference and one of the 10 conference sessions.

Given the short time to switch from a live to virtual format, this conference was a huge success.

By David Nelson, Civil and Environmental Engineering.


NSF Funding for Daniel Dowden on Seismically Resilient Mass-Timber Buildings

Daniel Dowden
Daniel Dowden

Daniel Dowden (CEE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received $204,514 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation.

The project is entitled, “NHERI Tailwood 10-Story Test Building Shake-Table Payload Research Project: Low-Damage Uplift Friction Damper for Seismically Resilient Mass-Timber Buildings.” This is a two year project.

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This award will investigate a low-damage solution for cross-laminated timber (CLT) seismic force-resisting systems (SFRSs) using a novel uplift friction damper (UFD) device for seismically resilient mass-timber buildings. The UFD device will embrace the natural rocking wall behavior that is expected in tall CLT buildings, provide stable energy dissipation, and exhibit self-centering characteristics. Structural repair of buildings with these devices is expected to be minimal after a design level earthquake. Although CLT has emerged as a construction material that has revitalized the timber industry, there exists a lack of CLT-specific seismic energy dissipation devices that can integrate holistically with the natural kinematics of CLT-based SFRSs.

Project data will be archived and made available publicly in the NSF-supported NHERI Data Depot.


Built World Enterprise Team Wins National Competition

Built World Enterprise logo.

A Michigan Tech team, Built World Enterprise (BWE), earned first place in the Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) student design competition. The team’s winning submission in the Runway Safety/Runway Incursions/Runway Excursions design category was “Runway Intersection Marking.” 

In making the announcement, the ACRP said “The students’ innovative design brought many technologies together in an affordable system for mid-size and general aviation airports.”

The selection was made from 63 entries by a panel of industry, FAA and academic experts. For its winning entry, BWE will receive a $3,000 award which will be divided among the student team members.

First-place teams will receive their awards and present their work at the Keck Center of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, DC, October 19, 2020. The students will also present their designs at the Airport Consultant Council’s Airport Technical Workshop as a keynote presentation. In addition, they will be given the opportunity to present their winning proposal at an industry professional conference or workshop in fall 2020.

Additionally, Michigan Tech received a second-place award in the Airport Environmental Interactions Challenge, with a $2,000 prize. A list of all winners can be seen on the ACRP website.

BWE addresses challenges typically solved by civil and environmental engineers, including designing infrastructure and solving waste management problems. The team’s advisor is the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Chair Audra Morse.

Morse said the win was a strong start for the new Enterprise team and for the University

“All BWE teams strove to create realistic design alternatives to address airport issues; however, this team excelled in understanding the true root causes of runway incursions. The winning team members, Lindsey Anderson, Skylar Callis and Kaitlyn Wehner, moved beyond purely technical to incorporate human factors into their design, which is why I believe their design was so well received. Thanks to Bill Sproule, Kelly Steelman, and Brett Hamlin for assisting the team on their win. They could not have done it without their help.”

The Transportation Research Board is a program unit of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine — private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine.


New Specialty Area for Civil Engineering MS Degree – Intelligent Infrastructure Design

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The specialty area encompasses the design of robust, resilient, digitally interconnected civil infrastructure for smart community design. Students will develop holistic design approaches to streamline the incorporation (monitoring, feedback) of all things digital into structures, transportation, geotechnical, water and waste management with a focus on minimizing environmental impact and the advancement in sustainability and resiliency.  This is one possible pathway for students to attain an MS in Civil Engineering, while bridging the traditional “silos” identified within the profession.

Specialty Area Description:

The Intelligent Community Design specialty area is intended to offer training for applying technology to make our communities work more sustainably and efficiently.  The pathway consists of courses that provide necessary knowledge of the engineering design and analysis of infrastructure systems (e.g., transportation, water resources/environmental, structural, and geotechnical), data collection techniques (from traditional surveying to more advanced sensor and sensing techniques), and computing (machine learning, optimization, numerical simulation, and big data as it relates to infrastructure/geospatial information). Graduates of this specialty area will be able to meet emerging and rapidly-growing needs for engineers to build more intelligent communities.

Coursework:

The following breakdown of courses is meant to serve as a guide when crafting a degree schedule for students interested in focusing on Intelligent Community Design. Potential courses are provided below; however, alternative courses could be selected based on the student’s interests, goals and prior education. Consultation with a faculty advisor is required.

  1. 4-5 core courses that provide a foundation for designing different civil engineering infrastructure systems with a focus on the environment and sustainability.  Courses should be selected to provide adequate breadth across the areas of civil/environmental engineering, while also providing sufficient coursework focused on design vs. systems thinking.

Structures:

CEE 4244 Loads for Civil Structures

CEE 5730 Probabilistic Analysis and Reliability

Water Resources:

CEE 4507 Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Design

CEE 4640/5640 Stormwater Management and Low Impact Development

CEE 5630 Advanced Hydrology

CEE 5666 Water Resources Planning and Management

Environmental:

CEE 4502 Wastewater Treatment Principles and Design

CEE 4503 Drinking Water Treatment Principles and Design

CEE 4503 Air Quality Engineering and Science

CEE 4506 Sustainable Engineering

CEE 5501 Environmental Process Engineering

CEE 5502 Biological Treatment Processes

CEE 5503 Physical-Chemical Treatment Processes

CEE 4505/5505 Surface Water Quality Engineering

Transportation:

CEE 4020 Computer Applications: Visualizing and Communicating Design Information

CEE 5190 Sustainable Pavements

CEE 5401 Advanced Pavement Design

CEE 5402 Traffic Flow Theory

CEE 5404 Transportation Planning

CEE 5417 Transportation Design

Geotechnical:

CEE 4820 Foundation Engineering

CEE 4830 Geosynthetics Engineering

CEE 5810 Advanced Soil Mechanics

CEE 5811 Fundamentals of Soil Behavior and Engineering Laboratory

  • 3 courses should be selected to provide necessary computing skills.
    • Machine Learning

CS 4811 Artificial Intelligence

CS 5811 Advanced Artificial Intelligence

EE 5841 Machine Learning

GE 5950 Applied Remote Sensing and Machine Learning

UN 5550 Introduction to Data Science

  1. Database and Data Structures

CS 2321 Data Structures

CS 3425 Intro to Database Systems

CS 4321 Introduction to Algorithms

CS 5321 Advanced Algorithms

  1. Optimization

CEE 5760 Optimization Methods in Civil and Environmental Engineering

MA 5630 Numerical Optimization

  1. Computer Simulation

CEE 5710 Modeling and Simulation Applications for Decision Making in Complex Dynamic Systems

CEE 5740 Introduction to System Identification

CEE 5870 Multiphysics of Porous Materials

  • Regression/Data Mining

EC 4200 Econometrics

FW 5412 Regression in R

MA 4710 Regression Analysis

  • 1-2 courses related to data acquisition

FW 4540 Remote Sensing of the Environment

GE 4250 Fundamentals of Remote Sensing

SU 5010 Geospatial Concepts, Technologies, and Data

SU 5011 Cadaster and Land Information Systems

SU 5012 Geospatial Data Mining and Crowdsourcing

SU 5013 Hydrographic Mapping and Surveying

SU 5142 3D Surveying and Modeling with Laser Scanner Data

SU 5300 Geospatial Monitoring of Engineering Structures and Geodynamic Processes

SU 5540 Advanced Photogrammetry – Satellite Photogrammetry

SU 5541 Close-Range Photogrammetry

  • d)      1 course for coding:

SAT 5002 Application Programming Introduction

SU 5601 R for Geoinformatics

Note that selected courses would have to adhere to basic requirements of the Civil MS program. Namely, a minimum of 15 credits must be taken within the CEE Department. In addition, students must take one of the following courses: CEE 5710, CEE 5730, CEE 5740, or CEE 5760. A minimum of 18 5000-level credits must be taken; a maximum of 12 3000- or 4000-level courses can be used towards the 30 credit requirement. All MSCE degree requirements and rules set forth by the Department and the Graduate School must be met in order for a student to finish the program.


Former CEE Chair Vernon Watwood Passes Away

Vernon Watwood
Vernon Watwood

Professor Emeritus Vernon Bell Watwood Jr. passed away suddenly June 4 in Tucson, Arizona.  He taught in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering from 1973 until his retirement in 1997. In addition, Watwood served as CEE Department Chair.

According to his obituary in the Daily Mining Gazette, Watwood was born in Opelika, Alabama, in 1935. After graduating from Auburn University, he served in the Navy and continued his education at Cornell University and the University of Washington. Watwood’s research involved finite element modeling, equilibrium finite elements with present emphasis on 3D applications, force method procedures, and mining machinery structural analysis.

His wife of 62 years, Patricia, three children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild are listed among the survivors. A private prayer service was held Saturday (June 13) at the Christ Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona, with the family on Zoom.


NSF Research Funding for David Watkins on COVID-19 Project

David Watkins
David Watkins

David Watkins (CEE/SFI) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $190,764 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The project is titled “RAPID: COVID-19, Consumption, and Multi-dimensional Analysis of Risk (C-CAR)“. Chelsea Schelly (SS/SFI), Robert Handler (ChE/SFI) and Charles Wallace (CS/SFI) are co-PIs on this one-year project.

By Sponsored Programs.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed household dynamics and dramatically changed food, energy, and water consumption within the home. Stay-at-home orders and social distancing has caused U.S. households to shift to working and schooling from home, curtail outside activities, and stop eating in restaurants. Furthermore, as many households face job loss and increasing home utility and grocery bills, U.S. residents are experiencing the economic impacts of the crisis, while at the same time assessing and responding to health risks. The project team has a unique opportunity to study these shifting household consumption and behavioral responses and quantify the associated economic and environmental impacts. The team will collect household food, energy, and water consumption data as well as survey response data from 180 participating households in one Midwestern county and compare it to data collected before the stay-at-home orders were put in place.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.


2020 STEM for ALL Video Showcase: Belle Isle Aquarium

Creating STEM Pathways in Detroit

For the past four years, the Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach has collaborated with Wayne State University and the Belle Isle Conservancy to promote an interest in science and science careers among elementary and middle school students in Detroit Public Schools. The project includes a summer teacher institute, field trips to the Belle Isle Aquarium, and mini grants for teachers. Classes come to the Belle Isle Aquarium to see fish, turtles and frogs, and leave with knowledge and excitement about what they could do in the world of science.

View our entry in the 2020 STEM for ALL Video Showcase, a three-minute video about the Belle Isle Aquarium NSF ITEST project, and VOTE for the Belle Isle Aquarium video for the Public Choice Award. Take a look at some of the other videos, too!

Please also view the newly created Virtual Field Trip and Ecology Lesson at the Belle Isle Aquarium. Before COVID-19, every fifth grade student in the Detroit public school system could visit the aquarium during the school year. The new virtual field trip allows anyone in the world to visit the United States’ oldest aquarium — the Belle Isle Aquarium!

Article by Joan Chadde, a leader in the organization of our teacher professional development summer workshops, Joan is an expert at “educating our educators.” As Director of Michigan Tech’s Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, Joan was recently (2020) named Informal Science Educator of the Year by the Michigan Science Teachers Association.

Dr. Ram’s ‘Creating STEM Pathways at Detroit’s Aquarium’ named an NSF Facilitators’ Choice Video

Jeffrey Ram, Ph.D., professor of Physiology at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, in collaboration with Wayne State’s College of Education, the Belle Isle Conservancy and Michigan Technological University, leads a $1.2 million National Science Foundation-funded project that aims to promote the interest of Detroit children in science and science careers.

A video produced by Dr. Ram, “Creating STEM Pathways at Detroit’s Aquarium,” that describes the project, was selected as a Facilitators’ Choice video in the 2020 SEM for ALL Video Showcase. Only 10 of 171 videos entered in the showcase received the honor.

Read more at WSU School of Medicine News.


Michigan Tech Student Awarded Virtual Internship

A Michigan Tech second-year student whose summer plans were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic has been named one of six recipients worldwide of a scholarship for a prestigious online program.

Malina Gallmeyer, an environmental engineering major from White Lake, Michigan, is a winner of a fully funded program scholarship from Virtual Internships. The scholarships are designed to assist students who are unable to participate in study abroad or in-person internships this summer. Through offering these scholarships, Virtual Internships hopes to support students in accessing global professional experiences while navigating recent challenges.

Gallmeyer is one of only two scholarship winners from the United States. Three are from the U.K. and one recipient is from New Zealand.

This program was established to ensure that all students have access to important learning opportunities and can continue to boost their employability and global networks, even during the current circumstances.

All six scholarship winners will get full access to Virtual Internship programs and all inclusions. Virtual Internships aims to work with all students to identify their skills gained and apply the experience to their employment outcomes.

Gallmeyer said, “A remote internship through Virtual Internships will offer me the same chance to gain experience, which as an engineer, is vital to employability after graduation, but with the bonus of working with people from around the world. Additionally, it would not only allow me to gain experience in my field, but also to understand and participate in the global economy and to learn the best way to connect with people.”


2020 Student Award Recipients

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Each spring semester, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering honors students from our Department with an award ceremony/banquet for all nominees for various awards. Unfortunately, we were unable to recognize our extraordinary students in person this year but would like to give them a hearty Congratulations on their commitment to excellence!

Here is a listing of the award winners:

Undergraduate Department Service Award

This is one of our fairly new awards and it was created to recognize a CEE student that has shown exemplary service to the CEE Department through student organizations or other groups affiliated with the Department.  The award is accompanied by a $500 scholarship.

The 2020 Undergraduate Department Service Award will go to Maddie Barrie

Maddie Barrie

Maddie is serving in her second term as President of the Michigan Tech Student Chapter of Engineers Without Borders-USA.  In this role, she has contributed a great deal to the student organization through a number of specific tasks and activities.  In addition to overseeing chapter operations, she has organized fund raising activities, recruiting events, and student participation in national and regional EWB-USA conferences.  She has also made notable contributions to both of the chapter’s ongoing international community programs.  She has been an active member of the Bolivia project team, and she served as the U.S. point of contact during the team’s assessment trip in May 2019.   She has also contributed to the Guatemala team’s work, serving as the lead for project monitoring, evaluation, and learning. In this role, she is responsible for collecting data on project performance and community outcomes, and reporting to the EWB-USA national office.  For her dedication to the success of the EWB-Michigan Tech student chapter and its partner communities, Maddie has been awarded the Department Service Award.

The David W. Hand Environmental Process Engineering Lab Award

This award recognizes a team of students from the CEE 4509 class for: outstanding technical skills in the laboratory, outstanding teamwork and professionalism, effective oral and written communications, and excellence in safety protocol as recognized by your peers and supported by the instructor.

The team members recognized for this honor are:

Devin Slavik, Savannah Fowler, and Brett Cianek

Devin Slavik, Savannah Fowler, Brett Cianek

Nicole Bloom Award for Environmental Sustainability

This award is made annually to an undergraduate civil or environmental engineering student who has demonstrated leadership, passion, and activism for effecting environmental sustainability at the local, national, or global level.

The Reddy Scholarship ($1000) is awarded annually in conjunction with the Nicole Bloom Award for Environmental Sustainability.

The Dr. Pati Damoder and Soumitri Reddy fellowships and scholarships are made available to the Department through the generosity of Dr. Pati Reddy and his wife, Soumitri.  Dr. Reddy is a 1962 graduate of our MS program.  He and his wife have been strong supporters of Michigan Tech’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

This year the Nicole Bloom Award for Environmental Sustainability will go to:  Sierra Braun

Sierra Braun

Sierra Braun has been a student in Green Campus Enterprise and has distinguished herself with outstanding leadership skills and her passion for work on sustainable building design and construction.  Green Campus Enterprise is developing a design for a prototype tiny house.  The tiny house will have a footprint of 200 square feet, follow passive house principles and be a net-zero energy building.  Dave Bach, a highly regarded design builder specializing in sustainable construction, is helping advise students on the tiny house project. He describes Sierra as “an aspiring and talented civil engineering student motivated by a strong environmental philosophy to learn and practice sustainable design and construction. Her enthusiasm, dedication and work ethic are infectious, motivating teammates to do their best work and to include an environmental perspective in their decisions. Her professional goal is to be an architect. If the design work and leadership skills she is exhibiting now are an indication of the future, I expect she will be widely recognized in advancing sustainable design nationally and globally.”

CEE Department Scholar

The CEE Department Scholar is accompanied by a $500 department scholarship.

Each year the Department selects one of our highest achieving students as the Department Scholar.  At the University level, one of the Department Scholars is then selected for the Provost’s Award for Scholarship.  This award is accompanied by a $500 scholarship.

 The criteria for selection is:

  • Representing the best of student scholarship in the department
  • Participating in research or scholarly activities
  • High level of intellectual curiosity
  • Intellectual creativity
  • Demonstrated communication skills

We are pleased to present Kaitlyn Wehner as the 2020 Civil and Environmental Engineering Department Scholar.    

Kaitlyn Wehner

Kaitlyn is a civil engineering junior-level student with a 4.0 GPA.  She is a founding member of the Built World Enterprise, a founding member of the MTU Aviation Club, a Head Leader in the Learning with Academic Partners (LEAP) program, a member of Tau Beta Pi (Engineering Honor Society), and a member of the MTU Jazz Band.  Kaitlyn was selected as the Department Scholar because of her strong academic skills, her initiatives in exploring her chosen profession, her passion and leadership skills that she brings to all of her endeavors, and because of her eagerness to share her time, energy and skills with her peers and her profession.

The Wilbur Haas Graduate Research Excellence Award

The Graduate Research Excellence Award, is made annually to a graduate level student in civil or environmental engineering to recognize outstanding student scholarship and research contributions.  This award is accompanied by a $1000 departmental fellowship.

The nominees for this year’s award are the following and are all truly exceptional researchers:

  • Chaitanya Bhat, PhD Candidate in Civil Engineering, nominated by advisor Amlan Mukherjee
  • Dongdong Ge, PhD Candidate in Civil Engineering, nominated by advisor  Zhanping You
  • Jiaqing Wang, PhD Candidate in Civil Engineering, nominated by advisor Qingli Dai

This year, Chaitanya Bhat has been selected for the Wilbur Haas Research Award. 

Chaitanya Bhat

During his time at Michigan Tech Chait has demonstrated innovation in his thinking and the ability to independently lead research efforts. He has proven to be a crucial asset in our collaboration, because of the depth of knowledge that he has developed over the last 4 years, as well as his ability to interact with other researchers and synthesize new ideas. His diligence, sincerity and ethics has further contributed to his research productivity. In his major research effort, he has taken the lead in our FHWA funded collaboration to assess the reliability of background life cycle inventory data sets. In doing so he has  worked closely and independently with the Federal LCA Commons, an inter-agency collaboration, as well as our research collaborators at University of California, Davis. In addition, the asphalt industry supported him for a summer internship (2018), and one of his research products (a structured database) is likely to be directly applied to enhance their asphalt mixture Environmental Product Declaration program. During his time at Michigan Tech, Chait has also contributed to the departmental service – having volunteered to present at tours for prospective undergraduate students, presenting about his research to high school students locally, and also serving in supportive roles in Graduate Student Government. This Spring he helped with mentoring an undergraduate student write and win SURF proposal funding.

The Danielle Ladwig Award for Graduate Excellence

The Danielle Ladwig Award for Graduate Excellence, is made annually to a graduate level student in civil or environmental engineering in recognition of outstanding achievement in academics, research, and service, in memory of our friend and colleague, Danielle LadwigThis award is accompanied by the Pati and Soumitri Reddy $1000 endowed fellowship.

The nominees for this special award were:

  • Chaitanya Bhat, PhD Candidate in Civil Engineering
  • Ryan Kibler, MS Candidate in Environmental Engineering
  • Kenny Larsen, PhD Candidate in Environmental Engineering
  • Xiaodong Zhou, PhD Candidate in Civil Engineering

The 2020 Danielle Ladwig Award will go to Ryan Kibler.

Ryan Kibler

Ryan has shown excellence in all aspects that this award was designed to recognize; academics, service, and research.  Among various accomplishments Ryan made for research, one noticeable achievement is his outstanding paper publication as a first author at Environmental Science and Technology, a premium journal in the field of environmental engineering (impact factor 7.1), for his membrane research.  The predictive model that was developed as part of his paper is very powerful and comprehensive. In the RO research field, this is the first and most comprehensive and impactful model that requires only structural information of organic contaminants. It is expected that this model will be used by many industries and utilities.  Ryan is a long-time volunteer in the Department’s Student Success Center which provides help to undergraduate students with civil and environmental engineering courses.  He has also displayed academic excellence by maintaining a 4.0 in his graduate studies.