Faculty Briefs

Kenneth Chelst, professor of industrial and systems engineering, was interviewed for the nationally recognized "Science of Better" program. Science of Better is a series of podcasts sponsored by INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) about ways that analytics and math modeling help organizations.  Chelst discussed how he has applied analytics to improve the operations of police and fire departments, as well as municipalities across the country. He presented his findings at the INFORMS Conference on Analytics in Chicago, held April 10-12. You can listen to the podcast here.

Michele Grimm was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). This is an honor conferred on a small number of engineers who are members of the ASME. It reflects significant engineering achievements as well as service to the engineering community. She will receive this honor at the Summer Bioengineering Conference this year on June 25 in Farmington, Penn.

Pamela VandeVord, associate professor of biomedical engineering and a rehabilitation investigator with VA’s Office of Research and Development’s Rehabilitation Research and Development Service at John J. Dingell Medical Center in Detroit, was honored along with 19 other young professionals at the third annual Vanguard awards. The program – sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber – was established by the group Detroit Young Professionals “to recognize and celebrate outstanding Detroiters who have distinguished themselves through professional leadership and service to our community,” according to the group’s Web site.

Chris Eamon, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, was recently awarded a grant from MDOT, “Evaluation of Prestressed Concrete Beams in Shear.” In the last few decades, the AASHTO Bridge Design Code, used by MDOT for bridge structural design, underwent several major revisions with regard to shear design.  This has led to significantly different girder designs, some of which may be more susceptible to shear damage than others.  The purpose of the project is to determine the cause and severity of shear cracks that have been identified in some prestressed concrete bridge girders in Michigan, and to develop an analysis and design procedure to prevent future shear problems.  The project involves field tests and studies, finite element analysis, and laboratory testing of prestressed concrete girders.  Eamon partnered with The University of Michigan to conduct laboratory testing while the WSU structures lab is undergoing renovation.

Ming-Chia Daniel Lai, professor of mechanical engineering, was named a fellow of SAE International. SAE Fellowship status is the highest grade of membership bestowed by SAE International. It recognizes outstanding engineering and scientific accomplishments by an individual that have resulted in meaningful advances in automotive, aerospace and commercial-vehicle technology.

After serving the College as associate dean for academic affairs for 7 years, Michele Grimm stepped down in August 2010 to return to the biomedical engineering (BME) faculty and lead the new undergraduate BME program. With the approval by the Board of Governors of the new B.S. in BME program, Grimm decided to take the opportunity to return to the department as chair of the undergraduate program.

John M. Cavanaugh, professor of biomedical engineering, and King Hay Yang, professor of biomedical and mechanical engineering, have been elected as fellows of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The two are among an elite group of SAE members who have achieved this distinction since its establishment in 1975. The “fellow” membership grade recognizes and honors long-term members who have made a significant impact on society's mobility technology through leadership, research and innovation. Cavanaugh and Yang were recognized at the SAE World Congress, held April 13-15, 2010, at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Xiaoyan Han, professor of electrical and computer engineering, received an international award from the Technical Cooperation Program (TTCP) in February 2010 at the Pentagon. Han and WSU physics professor Lawrence “Skip” Favro, along with 51 other scientists and engineers, were honored by the long-standing organization concerned with collaboration on defense science and technology matters.

Han and Favro, who were the only university professors to be honored by TTCP, were recognized for their sonic thermography technology, used for inspecting large areas and complex shapes in a short amount of time to reveal fatigue cracks. This technology can find and quantify defects in metals and composite materials, and is also used for process control applications in automotive and aerospace industries.

Cynthia Bir, professor of biomedical engineering and lead scientist for the popular television series Sport Science, appeared on an episode of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars that aired April 28, 2010. She used a system called functional assessment of biomechanics to monitor professional dancers Dmitry Chaplin and Edyta Sliwinska, tracking data such as foot speed and the force with which they landed. “It’s nice that we can showcase what Wayne State does and get some science out in front of the general public,” says Bir.

Congratulations to the College’s 16 faculty and 11 staff members recognized for their service to the university at the 2010 Employee Recognition Program: Paul Begeman, IT support/research associate, for 40 years of service; Naeim Henein, professor of mechanical engineering (40); Trilochan Singh, interim department chair of mechanical engineering (40); Kenneth Chelst, professor of operations research (35); Robert Erlandson, professor of electrical and computer engineering (35); James Woodyard, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering (35); Gail Evans-Hoze, academic adviser (30); Marsherry Jarrett, secretary (30); John Cavanaugh, professor and associate chair of biomedical engineering (25); Dorothy Payne, program specialist (25); Susil Putatunda, professor of chemical engineering (25); Gregory Auner, professor of electrical and computer engineering (20); Emmanuel Ayorinde, associate professor of mechanical engineering (20); Le Wang, professor of electrical and computer engineering (20); Rosalind Willis, administrative assistant (20); Chih-Ping Yeh, division chair of engineering technology (20); Valecia Chandler, administrative assistant (15); Srinivasu Kallakuri, research assistant (15); Golam Newaz, professor of mechanical engineering (15); David Reich, public affairs officer (15); David Sant, research associate (15); Dinu Taraza, professor of mechanical engineering (15); Xingbin Xie, research assistant (15); Cheng-Zhong Xu, professor of electrical and computer engineering (15); Ratna Chinnam, associate professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering (10); Joseph Louvar, research professor (10); and Hao Ying, professor of electrical and computer engineering (10).

Also recognized at the 2010 Employee Recognition Program were one staff member and two faculty members who retired in 2010: Snehamay Khasnabis, professor of civil engineering, for 35 years of service; Thomas Heidtke, associate professor of civil engineering (29); and David Griffin, instrument designer (19).

Former faculty member Esin Gulari was elected vice chairman of the National Science Board, the nation’s top science policy organization. Gulari, who is dean of the Clemson University College of Engineering and Science, was chair of the WSU Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science from 1993 to 2000 and was a faculty member prior to holding that position. She was appointed to a six-year term on the board in 2008 and will serve two years in the leadership position. The National Science Board is an independent body of advisers to both the president and Congress on broad national policy issues related to science and engineering research and education.

NextCAT Inc., a Detroit-based company led by Simon Ng, NextCAT chief technology officer and interim associate dean for research; Steven Salley, chemical engineering professor; and Shuli Yan, National Biofuels Energy Lab research associate; signed an option agreement for a biodiesel technology developed at the National Biofuels Energy Laboratory at Wayne State University. The technology that NextCAT brings to market allows biodiesel producers to use cost-effective raw materials in their production process.

The NextCAT technology developed by researchers at Wayne State allows producers to use feedstocks that cost as little as 10 cents per pound. "Our catalysts can tolerate both high free fatty acid and water, and low-cost feedstocks are typified by both of these characteristics," says Ng. "Many producers experimented with trying to pretreat the feedstocks before they enter the stream, but unless you fix the core of the problem, the catalyst, you have a process that is far from optimal. My colleagues Dr. Shuli Yan, Dr. Steven Salley and I worked hard to make this happen.”

NextCAT recently won the “Best of Boot Camp” award at Ann Arbor Spark's 17th annual Entrepreneur Boot Camp in Ann Arbor, and in January 2011 the company received $250,000 in seed funding from Automation Alley in Troy, Mich.

SenSound, a College of Engineering spinoff company is highlighted in a national report that shows how investment in basic research leads to innovation and job creation. The report, “Sparking Economic Growth: How Federally Funded University Research Creates Innovation, New Companies and Jobs,” released by the Science Coalition, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of 45 of the nation’s leading public and private research universities, identifies 100 examples of successful companies started through university innovations.

SenSound offers software, systems and services for noise source identification and noise-related quality control testing. Sean F. Wu, distinguished professor of mechanical engineering, developed this technology to help quiet the noise that surrounds our daily lives. He says that seeing sound through science is the perfect solution to noise problems such as squeaky brakes, noisy dishwashers and more.

A team of researchers from the College of Engineering, School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development’s Perinatology Research Branch (PRB) are collaborating to discover and develop new nanodevices to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of neuron-inflammatory diseases and infections that currently are difficult to target and treat.

The team, led by Rangaramanujam Kannan, professor of chemical engineering, with collaborators Sujatha Kannan, assistant professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine, and Roberto Romero, chief of the PRB at the Detroit Medical Center, is developing a therapeutic approach that will target and treat neuron inflammation in cerebral palsy. By developing nanotechnology-based diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for prevention and treatment of maternal infections and fetal brain injury, the team’s promising approach may one day eliminate or lessen the incidences of cerebral palsy, along with other neuron-inflammatory diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

Le Yi Wang, professor of electrical and computer engineering, co-authored a new book, System Identification with Quantized Observations (Springer 2010), with George Yin, Ji-Feng Zhang and Yanlong Zhao. The book is an excellent resource for graduate students, system theorists, control engineers, applied mathematicians, as well as practitioners who use identification algorithms in their work.

Yinlun Huang, professor of chemical engineering and materials science and co-director of the Sustainable Engineering Graduate Certificate Program, received the 2010 Research Excellence in Sustainable Engineering Award by the AIChE Sustainable Engineering Forum at the AIChE Annual National Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, in November. The award recognizes Huang “for his long-standing and sustained record of research activities and leadership advancing the development, practice and human resources in the field of sustainable engineering in the United States and other nations.”

Over the past decade, Huang has made significant contributions in theoretical research and industrial applications for industrial sustainability assessment, system design, and decision-making using multi-scale complex systems science and engineering methods, resulting in significant economic, environmental and social benefits, particularly in the auto coatings industry. He is the co-founder of several new conferences in sustainable product and process engineering, including the International Congress on Sustainability Science and Engineering, and the International Symposium on Sustainable Chemical Product and Process Engineering.

Hao Ying, professor of electrical and computer engineering, was co-chair for the 29th North American Fuzzy Information Processing Society Conference in Toronto in July 2010. He also acted as fuzzy competition co-chair for the IEEE International Conference on Fuzzy Systems, IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence, in Barcelona, Spain, July 2010. He serves as program committee member for three other international conferences.

Nabil Sarhan, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, will serve as co-director of the review board on the IEEE Multimedia Communications Technical Committee for 2010-2012.

Simon Ng, interim associate dean for research, was featured in the November 2010 issue of Crain's Detroit Business in their Entrepreneurial Spotlight section. Ng, who is also chief technology officer for Detroit start-up company NextCAT, spoke of both Wayne State University and the company's research and innovation in biodiesel.

Ming-Chia Daniel Lai, professor of mechanical engineering, was one of 26 mobility engineering professionals to win the 2010 Forest R. McFarland Award by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International. The award recognizes individuals for outstanding contributions to the SAE Engineering Meetings Board and the development and dissemination of information through technical meetings, conferences, and professional development programs, or for contributions in facilitating or enhancing the interchange of technical information.

Golam Newaz, professor of mechanical engineering and associate director of the Institute for Manufacturing Research, and Saida Khan, mechanical engineering postdoctoral fellow, had their work published in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research on June 1. Newaz and Khan hope their critique of recent studies of cell-material interactions, “A Comprehensive Review of Surface Modification for Neural Cell Adhesion and Patterning,” will enhance the effectiveness of neural prostheses.

The late Ralph H. Kummler, former dean of the College of Engineering, received a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award from the Engineering Society of Detroit (ESD) in recognition of a lifetime of accomplishment, sharing, leadership, mentoring, friendship and devotion to his field. Ralph’s wife Jean and his three sons, Jeff, Brad and Randy Kummler, accepted the award on his behalf at ESD’s annual award dinner June 23, 2010. Kummler joined ESD in 1970 upon arriving in Detroit, and was elected to its College of Fellows in 1984 in recognition of his outstanding contributions. He served on ESD’s Board of Directors for six years, chairing the Membership Committee, the ESD Publications Committee and the DaVinci Ethics Committee. In 1990, Kummler received the ESD Affiliate Council’s prestigious Gold Award. He was honored for his distinguished service to ESD in 1994 and again in 2004. In 1999, he was presented with the Horace H. Rackham Humanitarian Award.

Carol Miller, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, wasappointed to the Great Lakes Science Advisory Board (SAB) of the International Joint Commission (IJC) of the United States and Canada for a two-year term, effective December 31, 2010. The SAB makes technical water policy and engineering recommendations regarding the shared water resources between Canada and the United States.

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