Winter 2005

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(Fall 2005)

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Speed News

Inspiring Youth

High school students worked in teams last June to test properties of materials such as plastics that could be used in bioengineering devices. The session was part of the annual four-week INSPIRE program designed to expose young students to the many facets of an engineering career.

Participating in the bioengineering experiment were (left to right) Jasmine Braxton, Waggener High School; Jai-Jai Grimes, Butler High School; James Amaya, New Albany High School; Brenda Hart, INSPIRE director; Brandon Holder, Butler High School; and Tiana Middleton, Western High School.

Daily session topics included logistics, fiber optics, rapid prototyping, computers and problem solving. INSPIRE (Increasing Student Preparedness and Interest in the Requisites for Engineering) is free to students interested in science and math and is geared to female and minority students, who traditionally are underrepresented in engineering.

Chemical Engineering

Professor and acting department chair James Watters and civil engineering professor Joseph Hagerty are conducting studies of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant as part of a multi-university effort to assess and clean up toxins on and around the uranium processing facility in western Kentucky. Speed master's degree students Nick Uhl and Rebecca Thompson also are working on the project. The collaboration between the University of Kentucky, Murray State University and U of L recently was funded by a federal earmark secured by Sen. Mitch McConnell. Watters says one of the researchers' task is to "data mine" the contents of 50 years of often contradictory plant records in order to "figure out what's buried in the landfill there."

Professor Mahenda Sunkara co-chaired a committee organizing a major Kentucky scientific conference. The 2004 International Workshop on Nanomaterials in Lexington, Ky., last September brought to the state a host of international speakers and scientists working in the emerging field of nanotechnology. Also on the event's organizing committee was department colleague Thomas Starr as well as Robert Cohn from electrical and computer engineering. The conference was co-hosted by U of L and the University of Kentucky.

Professor Thomas Starr has been named Speed's associate dean for research, a post previously held by the current dean Mickey Wilhelm.

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Professor Louis Cohn recently was elected to a four-year term on the board of governors of the Transportation and Development Institute, a national professional organization and arm of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The institute's stated goal is "to promote the interdependence of transportation, land development and the environment."

Professor Joe Hagerty, left, receives an alumni scholar award from Speed Dean Mickey Wilhelm.

For his outstanding job helping students during his 35 years at Speed, professor D. Joseph Hagerty received the 2005-2007 Speed School Alumni Scholar Award at the Homecoming dinner this past fall. In the audience were many former Hagerty students. "The reason I got into teaching in the first place was that I always wanted to continue to be a student," Hagerty says. "I feel like my recognition was their recognition as well," The honor comes with $3,000 per year for three years, to be used in Hagerty's teaching efforts. As faculty advisor to the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Hagerty says he will use the funds to send young engineers to ASCE leadership workshops and professional meetings.

When flooding or disruption to water supplies occurs, what are the most effective ways to inform the public? To find out, U of L researchers will develop software to find the answers in a two-year study thanks to $244,295 from the Water Environment Research Foundation. Working on the project will be Thomas Rockaway, director of the department's Center for Infrastructure Research, and David Simpson, director of U of L's Center for Hazards Research and Policy Development.

Computer Engineering and Computer Science

CECS master's degree student Pankaj Sahasrabudhe and colleagues beat 109 other entrants to win the best research poster award at the Supercomputing 2004 conference in Pittsburgh in November. The poster, "The Next Generation of the Java CoG Kit (version 4)," summarized a multiyear research effort conducted at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago. Sahasrabudhe developed a user-friendly desktop for grid computing. "The idea, behind the grid," Sahasrabudhe says, "is to transform distributed storage and computational resources into a virtual system that is secure and service oriented solving complex problems."

Speed master's degree student Pankaj Sahasrabudhe, center, and colleagues at Argonne National Lab stand in front of their award-winning research poster. It recently took top prize at a major international supercomputing conference.

His CECS master's thesis adviser, Professor Rammohan Ragade, says Sahasrabudhe is "an outstanding, enterprising individual and a go-getter in research who has excelled in this new field of grid computing." Sahasrabudhe says he is proud to represent U of L at Argonne because competition is stiff for the prestigious slots to study and work there. "It's a great opportunity to work here and to be recognized for my work as part of a group that has received an international award," he says. For more information on Sahasrabudhe's work, go to:

Associate professor Mehmed Kantardzic, director of the data mining lab, served as conference chair and chief organizer for the 2004 International Conference on Machine Learning and Applications held in Louisville this December. The event drew researchers from around the world working in the areas of machine learning and applications.

Electrical Engineering

Professor Jacek Zurada has been named acting chair of the department. He recently co-authored an article, "Computational Intelligence Methods for Rule-based Data Understanding," which was the cover story of the May 2004 issue of Proceedings of the IEEE magazine. Also, Zurada recently was awarded the title of honorary professor of Heibei University in China.

Professor Aly Farag recently received $300,000 from the Kentucky Lung Cancer Research Program for the study, "Image Analysis for Early Detection of Lung Cancer."

Industrial Engineering

Waldemar Karwowski

Professor Waldemar Karwowski added further recognition to his extensive list of honors. In May he received an honorary doctorate in science from the South Ukrainian State K.D. Ushynsky Odessa Pedagogical University of the Ukraine (May 2004) for his contributions to the fields of human factors engineering and management of work systems. In June he was awarded a Sc.D. degree in management science by the Institute for Organization and Management in Industry in Warsaw, Poland. He also received the 2004 Jack A. Kraft Innovator Award from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. The award recognizes Karwowski's "significant efforts to extend and diversify the application of human factors principles and methods."

Mechanical Engineering

Professor and department chair Glen Prater recently received the first $500,000 of a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Army to develop software used in assessing and designing stronger and easier-to-manufacture structures for military and commerical vehicles. Eight students are working with Prater on the project. "We're thrilled that we've gotten off to a good start and at the possibilities for commercializing this software at some point," Prater says. Another $700,000 in federal funds is forthcoming. Sen. Mitch McConnell has been key in securing funding. The project is part of an ongoing project call IMPACT (Improved Materials and Powertrain Architectures for 21st Century Trucks), a collaboration between U of L, the Army and Ford Motor Co.

Rapid Prototyping Center

Center director Ken Davis has received $100,000 from the Boeing Co. for a research project, "Character-ization of Nylon-11 Powder for Direct Manufacturing Process Control and Definition of Powder Recycling Protocol." Nylon-11 resin is a cost-effective type of versatile engineering plastic increasingly used in aircraft, cars, machinery, medical devices and telecommunications.

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