Category: News

Pandemic Research and Scholarship Impact Mitigation Grants

Susanta Ghosh
Susanta Ghosh
Trisha Sain
Trisha Sain

The ADVANCE Initiative, Provost’s Office, Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, Vice President for Research Office and University Marketing and Communications have been working together over the past year to identify and begin to mitigate some of the ways that scholars, creators and researchers have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. This collaboration resulted in a session to learn specific impacts and discuss solutions.

One of the primary results of our joint work is the COVID impact statement document faculty are requested to develop and add to Digital Measures. This group has also solicited and published an ongoing Unscripted research blog series where Tech employees share how the pandemic impacted their work. In addition, the VPR office recently solicited and received proposals for funding to help mitigate financial losses to research, creative and scholarly work associated with the pandemic. Many individuals experienced significant negative impacts and applied for the funds. Unfortunately, we were unable to fund them all.

The following individuals in the College of Engineering were selected to receive one of these grants:

  • Susanta Ghosh (ME-EM)
  • Trisha Sain (ME-EM)

By Associate Vice President for Research Development.


Karrar Takleef Alofari Presents Poster at 2021 Alumni Reunion

The Michigan Tech Graduate Student Government (GSG) organized a poster presentation at the 2021 Alumni Reunion in the Rozsa Center on August 6. Presentations are also posted virtually. Among the presenters was Karrar Takleef Alofari, a PhD Student in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

Karrar Takleef Alofari
Karrar Takleef Alofari

Karrar Takleef Alofari

Area of Focus

Multi-phase Flow in Porous Media

Topic

The Impact of Relative Humidity on The Porosity and The Structure of PEM Fuel Cell Catalyst Layer

Project Summary

Understanding and modeling of mass transport limitations in the catalyst layers in PEM fuel cells remain a challenge despite decades of commercial development. That challenge has led to the development of a novel ex-situ test to characterize mass transport resistances in these extremely thin porous layers. This test characterizes radial percolation of gas and liquid at varying fluid injection rates and relative humidities. Liquid percolation exhibits a dominant capillarity influence at low injection rates with lower final wetted areas and saturation as compared to high injection rates. Changes in relative humidity have a significant effect on percolation behavior for both gas and liquid. There is a significant jump in resistance when the relative humidity exceeds 65%.


Richard and Elizabeth Henes Endowed Professors Announced

The Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs is pleased to announce three Henes endowed appointments in the Department of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics (ME-EM).

William Endres
William Endres

William Endres, associate professor, accepted an appointment as a Henes Professor effective July 1, 2021. Due to Endres’s leadership, the department’s Senior Capstone Design program is now a nationally recognized program. ME-EM Department Chair William Predebon noted, “As a former ASME VP and Chair of Engineering Education, which oversees the ME Department Chairs/Heads Committee and ABET, I can say our Senior Design Capstone program has become one of the premier programs under the leadership of Dr. Bill Endres.” As a Henes Professor, Endres will continue to develop the program through collaboration with other College of Engineering departments and securing new industry partners.

Brad King
Brad King

Brad King, professor and director of the Space Systems Research Group, has been reappointed as a Henes Professor. As a Henes Professor, King will continue to lead a nationally recognized research program in electric space propulsion systems. King is the faculty advisor for Michigan Tech’s nationally recognized Aerospace Enterprise student team, which was selected by NASA to launch their Oculus satellite in lower earth orbit on June 25, 2019 and recently selected to launch a second satellite, Stratus, in December 2021.

Jeff Naber
Jeff Naber

Jeff Naber, professor and director of the Advanced Power Systems Research Center (APSRC), has been reappointed as a Henes Professor. As a Henes Professor, Naber will continue to lead a nationally recognized research program in autonomous and connected hybrid electric vehicles. Naber led the recently completed ARPA-E NEXTCAR I research project on light-duty multi-mode hybrid electric vehicles and was selected in March 2021 to lead the ARPA-E NEXTCAR II research project to increase the range of partially to fully autonomous light-duty multi-mode electric and hybrid electric vehicles, both of which were multi-million-dollar projects.

By the Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.


Katy Pioch Interviewed by Xena Workwear for Women

An interview with Katy Pioch, a mechanical engineering student and former Society of Women Engineers (SWE) section president, was featured in a XENA Workwear for Women blog post titled “The Engineering Process.” 

In addition to her SWE involvement, Pioch is a resident assistant (RA) and was elected president of the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge Enterprise.

I think the secret sauce for getting an internship are connections and passion. I had a few connections at the defense company from career fairs and from my personal network. They boosted my confidence while applying and helped me get my foot in the door.

Katy Pioch


MTRAC Innovation Hub for AgBio Grants for Ezra Bar-Ziv

Ezra Bar-Ziv
Ezra Bar-Ziv

The Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) Innovation Hub for AgBio at Michigan State University recently highlighted two grants awarded to a Michigan Tech researcher.

Ezra Bar-Ziv (ME-EM) received his first MTRAC AgBio grant in 2018 through a competitive grant proposal submission. This $50,000 matching fund grant supported his research that uses biological materials as feedstocks for petroleum refineries. In 2019, he submitted a proposal for a second technology that resulted from previous MTRAC awarded research. This new technology is able to remove chlorine from solid plastic waste streams. Chlorine is an undesirable byproduct of burning plastics, and by removing it, the plastic can be cleanly used for combustion energy. The chlorine is recycled, as the system uses the chlorine gases to heat itself. Bar-Ziv was awarded a larger $100,000 MTRAC AgBio match grant for this second project.

MTRAC grants are awarded to assist with the commercialization of new technologies. Bar-Ziv’s research looks at environmentally friendly solutions to combustion energy, in which materials are burned to produce heat energy. He is specifically researching ways waste materials can be utilized in this manner. Instead of sending plastic waste material, such as food wrappers, to the landfill, they can be sent to facilities with Bar-Ziv’s technology.

“Feedback from the oversight committee through the MTRAC process is extremely encouraging,” Bar-Ziv said. “They have one thing in mind: They want you to focus and bring a product to the market. Without the MTRAC support, it would have been hard to do the commercialization.”

Convergen Energy, an energy company in Wisconsin, wants to commercialize Bar-Ziv’s design. Together, they are working on the pre-design, which will help the company determine how to move forward with the technology. They are exploring what the system will look like, the cost of the system and the business benefits. The system will then be used to create this clean combustion energy.

“One of the key objectives of the MTRAC statewide program is to support technology commercialization within all of our universities, hospital systems and nonprofit research centers,” said Denise Graves, university relations director at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). “This project is a great example of that collaboration — using the expertise of the AgBio Innovation Hub at Michigan State to support research and commercialization activities at Michigan Tech.”

The MSU Innovation Center MTRAC team has been working with Bar-Ziv since he was awarded the first MTRAC grant. “Dr. Bar-Ziv and the team have set a great example of how to use scientific rigor and technical ingenuity to deliver high-value solutions to real customers,” said Joseph Affholter, the commercialization program director for the MTRAC AgBio Innovation Hub, which runs under the MSU Innovation Center.

This is the spirit of translational research, Affholter explained. “They have navigated a complex innovation process. Their curiosity, flexibility and commitment to value creation has delivered a commercialization-ready technology to customers and is a timeless example to other academic researchers seeking to solve practical problems through innovation.”

“There is the so-called ‘Valley of Death’ between discovery and user adoption,” said Jim Baker, associate vice president for research at MTU. “Equally as important is the feedback from the MTRAC oversight committee as well as the program management to accomplish the core goals. MTRAC fills an essential gap between laboratory research and use.”

The MTRAC Innovation Hub for AgBio at MSU is dedicated to the commercialization of technologies that advance the competitiveness of Michigan’s food, agriculture and industrial bioeconomy. The program is co-funded by MSU and the MEDC through the Michigan Strategic Fund.

The AgBio hub is part of a network of statewide innovation hubs — including the MTRAC Advanced Applied Materials Innovation Hub at Michigan Tech, which announced funding for projects in May. Located strategically at universities strong in the sector, each hub further increases the quality and quantity of resources available. 


Jason Blough is the 2021 Distinguished Professor

Jason Blough
Jason Blough

The Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs is pleased to congratulate Robert Nemiroff and Jason Blough, the new University and Distinguished Professors.

The University Professor title recognizes faculty members who have made outstanding scholarly contributions to the University and their discipline over a substantial period of time. The Distinguished Professor title recognizes outstanding faculty members who have made substantial contributions to the University and their discipline and are not presently recognized through an endowed position.

The confidential process for selecting University and Distinguished Professors spans the academic year and recipients for each award are notified late in the spring semester. Additional details regarding the awards and selection procedures can be found on the Provost’s website.

Blough, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, has been selected to join Michigan Tech’s Distinguished Professors. Since joining Michigan Tech in 2003, Blough has been recognized for numerous contributions in teaching, research and service.

Blough is a member of Michigan Tech’s Academy of Teaching Excellence and has received the SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award. He is identified as an international leader in the area of noise, vibration and harshness, having received the Blue Ribbon Coalition Scientist of the Year Award (2006), the SEM DeMichele Award (2021) and the SAE Arch T. Colwell Merit Award (1997). He is also a Fellow of SAE (2021).

Blough has had numerous publications in journals as peer-reviewed conference papers. He has given over 30 short courses to industry. Additionally, he has had over 100 funded projects, totaling more than $3.7 million as principal investigator (PI) and $2.3 million as co-PI.

Blough has also been extremely active in service, graduating both doctoral and master’s students, chairing an international conference in his field, serving on boards, editing papers and journals, and advising the SAE Student Chapter and Clean Snowmobile Challenge for over 15 years. SAE has recognized him multiple times as an outstanding faculty advisor.


Spring 2021 Research Excellence Fund Award for Yongchao Yang

Yongchao Yang
Yongchao Yang

The Associate Vice President for Research Development Office announces the Spring 2021 Research Excellence Fund (REF) awards. Thanks to the individual REF reviewers and the REF review panelists, as well as the deans and department chairs, for their time spent on this important internal research award process.

Among the recipients of a Research Seed Grant (RS) is Yongchao Yang, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. Yang’s expertise is in structural dynamics, experimental mechanics, and system identification.

More information about REF awards and the application process can be found on the Research Excellence Fund page.

By Associate Vice President for Research Development Office.


Nathan Ford is an Exceptional Leader in Student Governance

Nathan Ford
Nathan Ford

Outstanding students, staff, and a special alumni were honored Friday (April 16, 2021) during Michigan Tech’s 27th Annual Student Leadership Awards Virtual Ceremony.

Nathan Ford, a graduate student, and Larkin Hooker-Moericke, an undergraduate student, were recognized as Exceptional Leaders in Student Governance. Both have collaborated on numerous projects and contributions for their constituency over the past year. With the unconventional year, they have shown to pivot and jointly work together to serve the students of Michigan Tech. They have advocated for modifications to various academic policies that have made significant impacts, formed several new committees to address student concerns, and worked tirelessly to minimize disruptions to the student experience. Their nomination states that the list of all the specific things they have done is just too long, but what is really important is that at no point have Larkin and Nathan lost sight of their job: the well-being and success of all students.

Nathan, President of Graduate School Government, is a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

By Student Leadership and Involvement.


Jeffrey Allen Elected as an ASME Fellow

Jeffrey S. Allen
Jeffrey S. Allen

Jeffrey S. Allen, (ME-EM) the John F. and Joan M. Calder Professor in Mechanical Engineering, has been elected a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

The award is in recognition for Allen’s research contributions in optical diagnostic development for investigating fluid and heat transfer phenomena, his engineering design contributions in microgravity while at NASA, and his leadership in engineering education.

The ASME certificate was presented to Allen at the ME-EM Faculty and Staff meeting earlier this month.


Peters, Stabenow Applaud $4.5 Million Federal Funding to Help Advance MTU Automated Vehicle Research

Michigan’s U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow welcomed $4,498,650 in federal funding awarded to Michigan Tech for self-driving vehicle research and development on March 10, 2021. The funding—awarded through the Department of Energy—will support ongoing projects to enhance connected and automated vehicle technologies that improve driver safety by eliminating risk found in human error.

Led by the University and in partnership with General Motors (GM), the American Center of Mobility and Stellantis, this research aims to identify additional opportunities for fuel savings and EV range optimization by creating more intelligently operating vehicles. 

“Michigan continues to be a global leader in developing self-driving vehicle technology, thanks in part to work being done at distinguished institutions like Michigan Tech,” said Senator Peters, Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight, and Ports. “This investment will spur future innovation and development surrounding mobility as we work to usher self-driving cars safely onto our roadways while ensuring Michigan remains on the forefront of automated transportation.”

“Michigan workers, manufacturers and universities are the best in the world and continue to lead the development of next-generation vehicles. Michigan Tech is one of those institutions leading the way in creating longer-range electric and autonomous vehicles, improving safety and making our cars more energy efficient. This investment will ensure Michigan remains a global leader,” said Senator Stabenow.

The project is led by Jeffrey Naber, the Ron and Elaine Starr Professor in Energy Systems, in Michigan Tech’s Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Department and the director of the Advanced Power Systems Research Center.

“We are proud to continue our support of advancing autonomous and connected vehicle technologies through collaborative research with industry and the Department of Energy,” said David Reed, Vice President of Research, Michigan Technological University. “This program builds upon our strengths in power systems, controls, and systems engineering to improve driver safety for all.”

 More information on the Department of Energy Grant program can be found at ARPA-E Funding Opportunity Exchange and Department of Energy Funding & Financing.