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Lehigh Engineering Update - March 2011

Students

  • Lehigh Engineering students organized two separate events on Friday, February 25, for school kids from all over the Lehigh Valley and beyond to get a taste of what a future in science may have in store for them. The annual CANstruction Competition and the Charting Horizons and Opportunities in Careers in Engineering and Science (CHOICES) program gave young students hands-on science and engineering experience to spark their interest in the sciences. CHOICES, a partnership between Lehigh Engineering and the campus chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, saw middle school girls programming robots and exploring the world of composite materials via the structural properties of chocolate and candy. The highlight of the day was the egg drop competition, where teams constructed apparatuses to safely land an egg dropped from the 3rd floor of Iacocca Hall. That same day, another group of Lehigh Engineering students -- the Rossin Junior Fellows, the College's student-leadership organization -- worked with students from the Broughal Middle School students to build bigger-than-life-sized structures out of various canned foods, for display in Broughal's lobby. After being displayed for two weeks, the cans will be donated to New Bethany Ministries food bank in South Bethlehem.


  • On Tuesday, March 15, some ten teams of Lehigh Engineering students will compete in the annual David and Lorraine Freed Undergraduate Research Symposium, which showcases the intense research capabilities of Lehigh's undergraduate engineering students. Beginning at 1 p.m. in the STEPS Building's main lobby, the students will present their work to a panel of judges and the general public, and have the opportunity to network with their fellow peers, faculty members, and visitors.The winners move forward to the university-wide symposium on March 29, and will be awarded travel stipends to attend professional research conferences in their chosen fields. The Lehigh community is encouraged to stop by and cast a vote in the event's "People's Choice Award." This year's competitors are Robert Asselin, Andrew Maier III, Stuart Blake, Stephen Scoza, Alexander J. Bourque, Jonathan S. Rosen, Katherine Glass-Hardenbergh, Sushan Zheng, Justin Nice, Jake Patterson, Anthony Ventura, Andrew Woodward, Kyle Schreiner, Mary Nunley, and Danny Cohen.


Faculty

  • Two Lehigh structural engineers traveled to the Hyogo Earthquake Engineering Research Center in Japan to test earthquake-resisting technology developed at Lehigh's Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems (ATLSS) Center. ATLSS director and civil engineering professor Richard Sause and Wesley Keller, a Ph.D. candidate, joined researchers from the U.S. and Japan to conduct experiments on technology developed at Lehigh that enables a building to survive an earthquake with no loss of life and little or no damage.


  • Rick Vinci, professor of materials science and engineering, played an important behind-the-scenes role for NOVA's production of "Making Stuff," which aired last month on the Public Broadcasting Service. Vinci was a consultant for script development and fact-checking for two of the four episodes in the series: "Making Stuff: Stronger" and "Making Stuff: Smaller." He was also featured in "NOVA: Secrets of the Samurai Sword" -- some of which was filmed in Lehigh's Whitaker Laboratory -- alongside Michael Notis, professor emeritus of materials science and engineering.


  • Yujie Ding, professor of electrical and computer engineering, has been invited to give a presentation on his research at the 2011 Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics, which is one of the most prestigious conferences in his area of expertise. Ding's research uses second order nonlinearity to help light beams remain coherent as they pass through turbulent media, improving the quality of images for applications like satellites mapping the Earth or scientists studying the skies with telescopes.


  • Lehigh University President Alice P. Gast led a panel of scientists that reviewed the scientific evidence related to the FBI investigation of the 2001 anthrax letters. Gast, who earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and is a member of the National Academy of Science's Committee on Science, Technology and Law, headed the panel that was made up of experts in the fields of microbiology, medicine, physical chemistry, biochemistry and forensic science. The panel's report found that it is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the origins of the anthrax in the letters based on science alone. "This was an opportunity to provide a really in-depth look at how science is performed in the context of a national emergency and in the context of a law enforcement investigation with many experts being worked with across the country," Gast said.


Programs

  • Lehigh is one of seven recipients of a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation's ADVANCE Institutional Transformation program for 2010. The program is part of a national push to increase the ranks of women in academic science and engineering careers. Lehigh's proposal, "Building Community Beyond Academic Departments," focuses on harnessing the strengths of interdisciplinarity to enhance recruitment, retention, and the advancement of women faculty in STEM fields at Lehigh. The program will evaluate the Lehigh climate and policies, conduct social science research, and make recommendations for best practices to transform the university over the next five years.


  • Lehigh's world-renowned Nanocharacterization Laboratory will receive a major upgrade this year with the installation of a customized state-of-the-art scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM). The instrument will replace an advanced aberration-corrected electron microscope installed in 2004. The multi-million dollar instrument will be purchased with a $1.2 million Major Research Instrument (MRI) Program grant awarded by the National Science Foundation in 2010 to a research group led by Masashi Watanabe, associate professor of materials science and engineering. "We are getting an instrument that will be able to image atoms even more clearly and allow us to break new barriers in compositional analysis," said professor Christopher Kiely, director of the Nanocharacterization Laboratory.


  • Dr. Harun Bilirgen, a research scientist for Lehigh's Energy Research Center, along with students of the Integrated Business and Engineering program, will be collaborating with the Odyssey Land Development Group to develop a reactor to capture CO2 and use it to grow algae plants. The algae biomass will then be used in the production of biodiesel, a practice that is gaining popularity among environmental scientists today. "This multidisciplinary team approach will allow us to evaluate algae potential not only from engineering and environmental perspectives, but also from its economic impact on the U.S. and the world economies," Bilirgen said in a press release. Their work will be funded by a $45,000 investment from the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania.


  • The 2011 Fazlur R. Khan Distinguished Lecture Series continues in March with Masayoshi Nakashima of Kyoto University, who will give an address discussing new, revolutionary tests that explore the durability of a building during an earthquake and measure a variety of problems related to safety and quality of life during and after such an event. The lecture will be held in Sinclair Auditorium on March 25 at 4:30 p.m. The FRK Series is sponsored by the departments of civil and environmental engineering and of art, architecture, and design.


Alumni

  • On Wednesday, February 9, Lehigh Valley's PBS station, WLVT-TV, featured Lehigh's academic offerings in Entrepreneurship. The program -- part of the station's Tempo! Series -- prominently featured start-up firm LifeServe Innovations. LifeServe, founded by Zach Bloom and Rick Arlow of Lehigh's Class of 2009, develops medical products that help open a patient's airways to receive more oxygen in emergency situations. The television program also examined Lehigh's new Dexter F. Baker Institute of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Creativity and the university's award-winning Integrated Product Development program.


  • Daniel Lewis '95, '01 Ph.D., who earned three degrees in materials science and engineering from Lehigh, was recently named recipient of a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation. Lewis, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will receive a projected $630,000 over five years to fund his research. The CAREER Award is granted to faculty researchers at the beginning of their careers, and is among the NSF's most prestigious awards. Lewis is head of Rensselaer's Physical Metallurgy and Computational Microstructure Lab, as well as its Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Research Lab, and is a member of the RPI's Center for Future Energy Systems.

Posted on Wednesday, March 02, 2011

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