Tuesday, December 20, 2011

23 Students Inducted in Tau Beta Pi at Brown

Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society, inducted 23 new members into the Rhode Island Alpha chapter at Brown University on Saturday, December 3. Fourteen juniors were inducted along with nine seniors.

Among the 14 juniors elected were: Ross J. Browne ’13, Derek  Croote ’13, Eric C. Greenstein ’13, Kaan T. Gunay ’13, Mia M. Helfrich ’13, Steven I. Klurfeld ’13, Max Y. Liberman ’13, Visarute Pinrod ’13, Patipan Prasertson ’13, Rebecca R. Reitz ’13, Sahar Shahamatdar ’13, Jeremy R. Wagner ’13, Kasey A. Wagner ’13, and Adam D. Wyron ’13.

The eight seniors elected included: Anastassia Astafieva ’12, Natalie E. Bodington-Rosen ’12, Karine Ip Kiun Chong ’12, Kelsey J. MacMillan ’12, Henry H. Mattingly ’12, Emir V. Okan ’12, Alejandro Rivera Rivera ’12, Pablo L. Sanchez Santaeufemia ’12, and Reid T. Westwood ’12.

Tau Beta Pi, founded in 1885, is the second oldest Greek-letter honor society in America; the oldest is Phi Beta Kappa. While Phi Beta Kappa is restricted to students in the liberal arts, Tau Beta Pi is designed to “offer appropriate recognition for superior scholarship and exemplary character to students in engineering.”

In order to be inducted into the prestigious honor society, juniors must rank in the top eighth of their class and seniors must rank in the top fifth of their class. Graduate students who have completed at least 50% of their degree requirements and who rank in the top fifth of their class are also eligible to become candidates for membership.

The Rhode Island Alpha chapter is not only an honor society to pay tribute to outstanding students, it also provides a vehicle for these students to assume a role of leadership at Brown and to be of distinctive service. Tau Beta Pi members are active in engineering student publications, the engineering recruiting project, and in a variety of other organizations.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Professor Huajian Gao to Receive Rodney Hill Prize from IUTAM

Huajian Gao, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Engineering at Brown University, will receive the 2012 Rodney Hill Prize from the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (IUTAM). The prize, which consists of a plaque and a check for $25,000, is awarded in recognition of outstanding research in the field of solid mechanics and is awarded only once every four years in conjunction with the International Congress of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (ICTAM). The initial prize was awarded at ICTAM 2008 in Adelaide, Australia. Professor Gao will receive his award during ICTAM 2012 which will be held in Beijing, China, from August 19-24, 2012.

Professor Gao receives the prize for his deep and broad scientific achievements in basic solid mechanics and its bridge to other fields, which has re-defined the modern frontiers of mechanics research. His work includes fundamental theory as well as applications to materials science, nanotechnology, and bioengineering. His highly cited publications appear not only in the major solid mechanics journals but also in many high-profile, cross-disciplinary journals.

"I want to warmly congratulate Professor Gao on this prestigious and well deserved award," said Dean Larry Larson. "His groundbreaking work shows how the field of solid mechanics - an area of historic national leadership at Brown - can have an impact on fields as diverse as health care, the environment and information technology."

Professor Gao received his B.S. degree from Xian Jiaotong University of China in 1982, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in engineering science from Harvard University in 1984 and 1988, respectively. He served on the faculty of Stanford University between 1988 and 2002, where he was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1994 and to full professor in 2000. He was appointed as Director and Professor at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart, Germany between 2001 and 2006. He joined Brown University in 2006. Professor Gao has a background in applied mechanics and engineering science. He has more than 25 years of research experience and more than 300 publications to his credit.

Professor Gao’s research group is generally interested in understanding the basic principles that control mechanical properties and behaviors of both engineering and biological systems. His current research includes studies of how metallic and semiconductor materials behave in thin film and nanocrystalline forms, and how biological materials such as bones, geckos, and cells achieve their mechanical robustness through structural hierarchy.

About IUTAM and its Congress
The International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (IUTAM) is an international non-governmental scientific organization belonging to the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), which was formed in 1946 and founded in 1948, with the objectives to form a link between persons and organizations engaged in scientific work in mechanics and related fields, and to promote the development of mechanics, both theoretical and applied, as a scientific discipline.

IUTAM achieves this aim mainly by organizing international meetings to deal with scientific problems. An International Congress on Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (ICTAM), including mini-symposia and pre-nominated sessions, is held every four years. It is organized by the Congress Committee, established by the IUTAM General Assembly.

Novel device removes heavy metals from water

Engineers at Brown University have developed a system that cleanly and efficiently removes trace heavy metals from water. In experiments, the researchers showed the system reduced cadmium, copper, and nickel concentrations, returning contaminated water to near or below federally acceptable standards. The technique is scalable and has viable commercial applications, especially in the environmental remediation and metal recovery fields. Results appear in the Chemical Engineering Journal.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — An unfortunate consequence of many industrial and manufacturing practices, from textile factories to metalworking operations, is the release of heavy metals in waterways. Those metals can remain for decades, even centuries, in low but still dangerous concentrations.

Ridding water of trace metals “is really hard to do,” said Joseph Calo, professor emeritus of engineering who maintains an active laboratory at Brown. He noted the cost, inefficiency, and time needed for such efforts. “It’s like trying to put the genie back in the bottle.”
That may be changing. Calo and other engineers at Brown describe a novel method that collates trace heavy metals in water by increasing their concentration so that a proven metal-removal technique can take over. In a series of experiments, the engineers report the method, called the cyclic electrowinning/precipitation (CEP) system, removes up to 99 percent of copper, cadmium, and nickel, returning the contaminated water to federally accepted standards of cleanliness. The automated CEP system is scalable as well, Calo said, so it has viable commercial potential, especially in the environmental remediation and metal recovery fields. The system’s mechanics and results are described in a paper published in the Chemical Engineering Journal.
A proven technique for removing heavy metals from water is through the reduction of heavy metal ions from an electrolyte. While the technique has various names, such as electrowinning, electrolytic removal/recovery or electroextraction, it all works the same way, by using an electrical current to transform positively charged metal ions (cations) into a stable, solid state where they can be easily separated from the water and removed. The main drawback to this technique is that there must be a high-enough concentration of metal cations in the water for it to be effective; if the cation concentration is too low — roughly less than 100 parts per million — the current efficiency becomes too low and the current acts on more than the heavy metal ions.
Another way to remove metals is through simple chemistry. The technique involves using hydroxides and sulfides to precipitate the metal ions from the water, so they form solids. The solids, however, constitute a toxic sludge, and there is no good way to deal with it. Landfills generally won’t take it, and letting it sit in settling ponds is toxic and environmentally unsound. “Nobody wants it, because it’s a huge liability,” Calo said.

Novel device removes heavy metals from water from Brown PAUR on Vimeo.

The dilemma, then, is how to remove the metals efficiently without creating an unhealthy byproduct. Calo and his co-authors, postdoctoral researcher Pengpeng Grimshaw and George Hradil, who earned his doctorate at Brown and is now an adjunct professor, combined the two techniques to form a closed-loop system. “We said, ‘Let’s use the attractive features of both methods by combining them in a cyclic process,’” Calo said.
It took a few years to build and develop the system. In the paper, the authors describe how it works. The CEP system involves two main units, one to concentrate the cations and another to turn them into stable, solid-state metals and remove them. In the first stage, the metal-laden water is fed into a tank in which an acid (sulfuric acid) or base (sodium hydroxide) is added to change the water’s pH, effectively separating the water molecules from the metal precipitate, which settles at the bottom. The “clear” water is siphoned off, and more contaminated water is brought in. The pH swing is applied again, first redissolving the precipitate and then reprecipitating all the metal, increasing the metal concentration each time. This process is repeated until the concentration of the metal cations in the solution has reached a point at which electrowinning can be efficiently employed.
When that point is reached, the solution is sent to a second device, called a spouted particulate electrode (SPE). This is where the electrowinning takes place, and the metal cations are chemically changed to stable metal solids so they can be easily removed. The engineers used an SPE developed by Hradil, a senior research engineer at Technic Inc., located in Cranston, R.I. The cleaner water is returned to the precipitation tank, where metal ions can be precipitated once again. Further cleaned, the supernatant water is sent to another reservoir, where additional processes may be employed to further lower the metal ion concentration levels. These processes can be repeated in an automated, cyclic fashion as many times as necessary to achieve the desired performance, such as to federal drinking water standards.
In experiments, the engineers tested the CEP system with cadmium, copper, and nickel, individually and with water containing all three metals. The results showed cadmium, copper, and nickel were lowered to 1.50, 0.23 and 0.37 parts per million (ppm), respectively — near or below maximum contaminant levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency. The sludge is continuously formed and redissolved within the system so that none is left as an environmental contaminant.
“This approach produces very large volume reductions from the original contaminated water by electrochemical reduction of the ions to zero-valent metal on the surfaces of the cathodic particles,” the authors write. “For an initial 10 ppm ion concentration of the metals considered, the volume reduction is on the order of 106.”
Calo said the approach can be used for other heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, and tin. The researchers are currently testing the system with samples contaminated with heavy metals and other substances, such as sediment, to confirm its operation.
The research was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, through the Brown University Superfund Research Program.

by Richard Lewis

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Philippe Fauchet ScM '80 named dean at Vanderbilt School of Engineering

Philippe Fauchet ScM '80 will be the new dean of the school of engineering at Vanderbilt University.

Fauchet, currently chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Rochester, begins work at Vanderbilt July 1, pending approval by the Vanderbilt Board of Trust.

He graduated from Brown University in 1980 with a master’s in engineering. Fauchet earned his Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford University in 1984.

“This is an important moment of transition for the School of Engineering,” said Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. “Philippe Fauchet is already well-known and respected at Vanderbilt because of his accomplishments at the University of Rochester, and we anticipate great success as he brings his dynamic leadership to our campus.”

Fauchet will succeed Dean Kenneth Galloway, who is returning to the faculty at the end of the current academic year after serving as dean since 1996.

“The engineering school is getting a visionary leader in Philippe Fauchet to build on the impressive contributions of Dean Ken Galloway,” said Richard McCarty, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Philippe has broad experience as a researcher and he is a dedicated teacher and university citizen. I look forward to his arrival on campus with great excitement.”

Galloway disclosed to members of the engineering faculty last spring that the 2011-2012 academic year would be his last as dean. Fauchet was named his successor after a national search by a provost-appointed committee.

During Galloway’s tenure, research expenditures from external sources grew from less than $10 million to more than $60 million annually, according to Art Overholser, senior associate dean and professor of biomedical engineering and chemical engineering. The school has also experienced a steady rise in national rankings, facilities have been upgraded and outstanding faculty have been retained and recruited.

“I intend to build on the strong foundation laid by Dean Galloway and help the School of Engineering become a national leader that attracts the very best minds from the United States and abroad,” Fauchet said. “I think Vanderbilt can have important impact on issues including improving health for our aging population, energy production, the environment and security.”

Fauchet, 56, is the founder of Rochester’s Center for Future Health, where engineers and physicians work to develop affordable technology that can be used in the home. He is also the founder of the Energy Research Initiative, a university-wide effort at Rochester to coordinate and expand the university’s research and educational activities in all areas related to energy.

“With his considerable administrative experience and leadership skills, Philippe Fauchet will be a great fit for our School of Engineering and Vanderbilt University,” said M. Douglas LeVan, the J. Lawrence Wilson Professor of Engineering at Vanderbilt and chair of the committee that recommended Fauchet. “The range of his research interests is extraordinary.”

Fauchet has been the primary adviser of Ph.D. students in six different academic disciplines and is the author of 400 technical articles. He became the chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rochester in July 2010.

“I have known Philippe for some 27 years,” said Dennis Hall, vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School at Vanderbilt. “His collaborative style, his record as a fine classroom teacher, and his history of personal engagement with productive research related to energy, health care, nanoscience and more, make him an excellent match and catch for Vanderbilt.”

Fauchet and his wife, Melanie, a nurse practitioner, have 13 children ranging in age from 2 to 22. Eight of their children are adopted and five are biological.

The Vanderbilt School of Engineering, founded in 1886, is celebrating its 125th anniversary. It ranks No. 34 in U.S. News and World Report’s evaluations of engineering programs nationwide. While retaining its strong focus on teaching, leaders at the school have dramatically expanded its research component, with an emphasis on the development of technology that is useful and accessible to the general public.

“I am especially looking forward to working with other academic units at Vanderbilt and also with the federal and state government, industry and our alumni,” Fauchet said. “Together we can develop research and educational initiatives that will contribute to solve the most pressing societal problems the United States and the world are facing.”

- by Jim Patterson/Vanderbilt University News

Friday, December 9, 2011

Kipp Bradford ’95 ScM ’96 Wins Elevator Pitch Contest

Brown alumni and students had another strong showing at the sixth annual Rhode Island Elevator Pitch contest. The event, sponsored by the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition, was held at the Rhode Island Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RI-CIE) and included 48 presenters.

The winner was Kipp Bradford ’95 ScM ’96, a Brown engineering alumnus and current faculty member, who pitched the KippCool Medical Cooling System, an ambulance-based emergency cooling system that could help improve the chance of survival for heart attack and stroke victims. According to Bradford, research has shown that cooling the body could reduce mortality by 50 percent. The device is currently in production and could be deployed in more than 35,000 ambulances across the country. Bradford and his company Kippkitts LLC took home the $300 first prize. Bradford described Kippkitts as a company that invents products that “solve problems that matter” in medical, engineering and design fields.

In total, four of the nine finalists had Brown connections. Two students from Steve Petteruti’s Entrepreneurship I class, Engineering 1930G, were also finalists. James McGinn ’12, a biomedical engineering concentrator, pitched JCD Wind, which aims to make seamless, high strength lightweight carbon fiber turbine blades. Han Lee ’12, a commerce, organizations, and entrepreneurship (COE) concentrator, pitched GLS Mobile Board, a solar-powered mobile display that will project on location-specific billboards, including the backs of trucks. Both of them won $50 each. In addition Brown student Brielle Friedman pitched BodyRox Fitness, a dance fitness company.

The contest required the competitors to pitch their business idea to a panel of six expert judges from the Rhode Island business community in 90 seconds. The contest is a prelude to the annual Rhode Island Business Plan Competition, which features more than $200,000 in cash and prizes. Applications for the business plan competition close on April 2. Winners will be announced on May 3. Please go to www.ri-bizplan.com for more details.

For the official RI Business plan release on the competition, please go to:

For the Providence Business News story on the event, please go to:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Extreme Gingerbread Competition a Success

The Brown University Society for Women Engineers held its fifth annual "Extreme Gingerbread House Competition" on Friday, December 2. Twenty-one teams of three to five students participated. The designs ranged from the traditional to the modern, and included a rugby stadium and a house with a windmill.

This year, the teams were challenged to build earthquake resistant gingerbread houses out of graham crackers, icing, candy canes, pretzels, gummy bears and other supplied materials in a one-hour time period. Houses were required to be hollow with a maximum wall thickness of one inch, and had to exceed 6” x 6” x6”. The houses were judged both for aesthetics, and amount of time without breaking on a shake table.

Team six, the Band (Rebecca Corman ’13, Rebecca Reitz ’13, David Emanuel ’13, Yukun Gao ‘13), won the competition with a score of 64.67 (20.67 appearance score and 44 structure score), while team ten, the Competition (Dingyi Sun ’12, Bao-Nhat Nguyen ’12, Lingke Wang ’12, Mike Caron ’12, Anand Desai ’12), was close behind with a total score of 63 (13 for appearance plus 50 for structure). Team 17, who built a replica rugby stadium, (Emily Hsieh ’12, Zuleyka Marquez ‘15, Natalie Klotz ‘14, Marissa Reitsma ‘14, Blair Station ‘12), finished in third with a score of 62 (20.67 for appearance and 41.33 for structure). In all, only one of the 21 teams, team ten, survived the maximum time on the shake table.

Ares Rosakis Receives Eringen Medal from Society of Engineering Science

Ares Rosakis Sc.M.’80 Ph.D.’83 was awarded the 2011 A. Cermal Eringen Medal of the Society of Engineering Science (SES) in recognition of his sustained contributions to dynamic fracture mechanics and methods to determine stresses in thin film structures. Medalists for 2011 were announced at the recent 48th Annual Technical Meeting of SES at Northwestern University. 

Rosakis is the Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at California Institute of Technology. He is presently Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech, where he previously served as Director of the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories between 2004 and 2009. He is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering and American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received his BA and MA degrees in engineering science from Oxford University, and his Sc.M. and Ph.D. degrees in solid mechanics from Brown University.  

Rosakis has received numerous honors  including the Hetényi Award (1991, 2008), the B.L. Lazan Award (1996), the Frocht Award (2003), the Murray Medal and Lecture (2005) and the Harting Award (2007) from the Society of Experimental Mechanics, the Brown University Engineering Alumni Medal and the Robert Henry Thurston Lecture Award from ASME (2010).