Fall 2012 ETM Newsletter

US News Best Colleges-Engineering Programs

Dear Alumni, Students and Friends,

The new school year has started and we have many new and exciting things in the works or planned. A few examples include:

  1. Oregon Tech opened its new consolidated urban campus in Wilsonville, Oregon this fall.
  2. We admitted our first cohort of MS in Renewable Energy Engineering students at our Wilsonville campus.
  3. We expect to admit our first cohort of MS in Civil Engineering students at our Klamath Falls campus in fall 2013.
  4. We received approval for and expect to start offering the Geomatics program in Wilsonville winter 2013.
  5. We expect to get our students involved at many stages during construction and after the startup of our second geothermal power plant in Klamath Falls. This power plant will also be a learning laboratory for our students.
  6. I have taken over as Director of the Oregon Renewable Energy Center in addition to my duties as Dean of the College of Engineering Technology and Management. Some of our plans to convert this Center into a Center of Excellence are covered in this issue. I want to thank Lita Colligan, Associate Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, for all of her help on this.

We have many other new and exciting things planned but I will wait until future issues to discuss them. Please read the articles in this issue to learn more about the interesting projects with which our students and faculty are involved.

Charlie Jones, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Engineering, Technology, and Management
Oregon Institute of Technology

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Software Engineering Program Adds Mobile Development Courses

Mobile Dev Apps

Mobile technology is the fastest growing market and most pervasive form of computing in today’s society. There are numerous job opportunities in diverse fields that beckon to knowledgeable engineers. The Computer and Software Engineering Technology (CSET) Industry Advisory Board highly recommended that Oregon Tech offer courses in mobile technologies, and to this end, the CSET department has designed a series of courses in mobile applications.

Randy Albert and Sherry Yang from the Software Engineering Technology (SET) program in Klamath Falls, Jay Bockelman from the SET program in Wilsonville, along with SET alum Tom Dolan, are collectively responsible for the design, development, and delivery of mobile courses and making them available to students from all relevant disciplines on both campuses.

Courses in Apple’s iOS (iPhone/iPad) development, Android application development, and Advanced Graphics have been successfully offered, with additional courses in the planning stages. The objective of these courses is to not only give students the technical skills needed to develop mobile applications on a specific platform but also to teach them good user interface design guidelines and evaluation techniques for usability of the applications. The courses also focus on real world mobile application development culminating in a term project for real users. The image above shows some student projects.

Student knowledge and experience with mobile and handheld platform computing is becoming essential in many industries – both mature ones and start-ups. Many students are incorporating a mobile platform component into their Senior Capstone Projects, and these mobile development courses provide the experience and support for these students. A department goal is to keep abreast with current technologies and job growth opportunities, to attract and retain quality students, and to maintain program relevancy with hands-on experiences.

The addition of courses in mobile development is just another step in maintaining the relevancy of the Software Engineering Technology curriculum.

Learn more about the CSET Program

Engineering Students Benefit from ARMY Grant that Funds Inter-Disciplinary Robotics Research and Equipment for Composites Manufacturing

Army Robotics

As part of a larger five year Army Research Lab (ARL) project called the Northwest Manufacturing Initiative, the Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MMET) department at Oregon Tech’s Klamath Falls campus has greatly increased its’ laboratory capabilities and become a regional center for both Robotics and Composite Materials education (two very popular and growing areas of focus in industry). In addition to providing new and automated tools that can be used in the future for teaching and hands-on projects, the grant has brought together students and faculty from different departments to investigate problems that are multi-disciplinary by nature. As the project winds down to an end this coming December, it gives us a chance to reflect on the lessons learned and the exciting possibilities in the future.

Army Router

Up to now, the research and development related to autonomous robot control has been iterative based on experiences and focused on understanding the technology (hardware and software) related to the physical movement of the robot and camera based vision systems used for object recognition and location monitoring.

As the pieces of the puzzle come together, students in Professor Jim Long’s junior Software Engineering Technology program will take a battle-bot chassis and controls built by students from MMET and add a 3D image/shape recognition capability using the KINECT systems utilized on the popular X-Box video games. The idea is that the new robot, which will have an onboard CPU, sensors and controls will assist the robot in avoiding obstacles such as fork-lifts, pallets and even humans as it operates in a manufacturing or materials warehouse application. It has been a fun experience so far because each group of students is very interested in what the other group is doing.

Army Winding Machine

Another area that has been positively impacted by the ARMY grant is in new product development, especially with products manufactured using composite materials. This summer, a 4’ x 8’ computer controlled router was purchased and will be used to efficiently machine molds for composite parts. In addition, a filament winding machine for cylindrical composite parts and a 150W CO2 laser cutter/engraver were installed and are currently in use. As students do projects such as building rockets, UAV’s, race cars, bicycles, etc. these additional processes / machines will provide them with valuable experience and a capability that is similar to what is available in industries such as aerospace, R & D, automotive and manufacturing.

As a result of the grant, there has been a positive effect on enrollment of new students after visiting our labs during Tech Trek or Campus Preview Day events and an increased sense of pride and motivation for current students.

Learn more about the MMET and Software Engineering Technology Programs

Oregon Tech’s Engineers Without Borders-USA

Phase 2 Slow sand filter construction

Hanga, Tanzania Phase Two: Slow Sand Water Filter

This past summer, students and faculty members from Oregon Tech’s Engineers Without Borders (EWB-USA) student chapter worked on the second phase of the slow sand water filtration system in Hanga, Tanzania.

The EWB-USA team was joined by a broader contingent of Oregon Tech faculty and student volunteers this year. When putting together the team for 2012, Professor David Thaemert felt it was important to include faculty outside of the engineering departments and assembled a crew of faculty from the management department, Kristy Weidman; math department, Terri Torres, and the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Erin Foley.

“The faculty combination was incredible," said Thaemert, "We were able to work with our peers in other departments to achieve student experiences that were much more well-rounded than what might have occurred within departmental ‘silos’.” This was Professor Thaemert’s third year working in Tanzania and he feels that the inter-departmental faculty connections extended well past the trip itself: he has seen improved collegiality among the faculty who participated in the project.

When asked why she volunteered to work on the project, Assistant Professor Kristy Weidman, responded, “Last winter David and I were standing by the copy machine when he started telling me about the project in Tanzania. David’s enthusiasm made me excited to learn more. I went to some EWB meetings, and pretty soon I was scheduling my vaccinations. It was something I really wanted to be part of, and I wanted to use my skills to make a video about their work in Africa. I was also hoping the video would help with future fundraising efforts.”

Statistician Terri Torres, who teaches math courses, explained why she volunteered to work on the project, “I was interested in the malaria and diarrhea rates in the village of Hanga. My goal is to be able to show that the clean water that the engineers are working to provide will make a difference in the incidence rates. It's always rewarding to apply my training to a situation where lives are improved and saved.”

Professor Weidman explained that after working with the Oregon Tech civil engineers and seeing them perform in the field, she has even more respect for the civil engineering degree program at Oregon Tech. “I think what impressed me the most about our students and working with them on this project was how well the faculty in the civil engineering department prepares their students for professional careers. Everything about the project was challenging, and yet, our students worked around and with the challenges and always came up with solutions. It was quite impressive. I can see why the placement rate is so high for our graduates in this program.”

Professor Thaemert went on to say, “I believe this trip illustrates the true interdisciplinary aspect of our Oregon Tech.” Currently, Professor Thaemert is putting together a crew for 2013. During this phase, crew members will complete the third and final stage of the project. If you are interested in learning more about the Engineers Without Borders - USA, please contact David Thaemert.

Oregon Tech Helps Company Stay on the Cutting Edge of Green Transportation

Quieter garbage trucks, more efficient buses coming soon

Thanks to Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) and local company KersTech Vehicle Systems, those noisy garbage trucks rolling through your neighborhood early in the morning might soon come with a mute button. Not literally, but if the high-tech partners have their way, not only will garbage trucks make substantially less noise, but city buses could haul folks farther on the dime of cash-strapped municipalities.

“We’re working on the brains of this technology right now,” says KersTech CEO Lester Erlston. “This kind of technology requires very clever controller programming, and that’s where Oregon Tech comes in.”

KersTech has a patent pending on an electric-hydraulic compound motor that increases efficiency 25 to 30 percent. With Oregon Tech’s help, reductions in waste will be even higher. The new motor will offer greater energy efficiency than conventional electric motors, particularly in heavy vehicles that have frequent start-and-stop drive cycles, such as the electric buses and garbage trucks that will travel our roads in the not-too-distant future.

An average city bus gets 4.5 miles per gallon and consumes around 8,000 gallons of fuel per year, while a garbage truck gets three miles per gallon, which means it uses roughly 8,600 gallons each year. Electric city buses and garbage trucks would use no diesel at all, only electricity, and KersTech’s new motor technology would use less electricity and require smaller, less expensive batteries or offer more driving range. TriMet – who, along with local company Pride Disposal, already has an agreement with KersTech – could save more than four million gallons of fuel a year with a fleet of electric buses. A further benefit of electric buses and trucks would be drastically reduced city and neighborhood noise levels. Electric motors are almost silent compared to diesel engines.

“It gives us a practical problem space where we can apply the type of engineering theory that students learn in our courses,” says Oregon Tech professor James Long. “Oregon Tech is a very hands-on university. The current struggle in higher education is to create courses that are immediately relevant. We’re able to create a cutting edge classroom experience that’s also on the cutting edge of this new technology.”

Oregon Tech’s work with KersTech will focus on combining an electric motor with a hydraulic motor to find the speeds at which each functions most efficiently. The complex mathematics that Oregon Tech is applying to the problem will result in a controller that efficiently switches between the two motors to maintain a minimum of energy waste.

The collaboration between KersTech and Oregon Tech was made possible by a grant in the amount of $139,173 by National Institute for Technology and Communities(NITC), a part of the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC). OTREC is a national University Transportation Center and a partnership between Oregon State University, Oregon Tech, Portland State University, and the University of Oregon.

Civil Engineering Department Wins National Award

Oregon Institute of Technology’s Civil Engineering Department was recently awarded the 2012 Walter LeFevre Award (Small Program Winner) from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Established in 2007 by ASCE, the award is named for E. Walter LeFevre, Ph.D., PE, Dist.M.ASCE who endowed the award to recognize actions in promoting licensure, ethics and professionalism.

“I am very proud of the Civil Engineering Department at Oregon Tech for receiving the coveted 2012 Walter LeFevre Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE),” stated Charlie Jones, Ph.D., dean of the college of engineering. “This is a national award that recognizes civil engineering departments that promote licensure, ethics and professionalism. Our students truly benefit from the faculty's dedication to these criteria. They model it (all have their professional engineering license and comply with ethical and professional standards) and encourage students to do the same.”

The faculty members of Oregon Tech’s Civil Engineering Department have worked in government agencies, private firms, and consulting practices. They stay connected with workforce demands to give students in the program a competitive advantage. All members of the Civil Engineering faculty are licensed professional engineers as well as dedicated teachers with impressive academic credentials who strive to provide hands-on instruction and one-on-one attention in the classrooms and labs.

Learn more about the Civil Engineering Program

Young Engineer of the Year

Young Engineer of the Year

Oregon Tech is proud to announce that our very own Charles “C.J.” Riley, Ph.D. was named the 2012 Young Government Engineer of the Year by the Oregon Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

The Oregon Section of the ASCE noted Riley’s leadership with the Oregon Tech civil engineering program, his activity as advisor to the student chapter of ASCE at the university, his involvement with ASCE as an Oregon Section Board member, and as Southern Oregon Group officer, as well as the ExCEED teaching workshop assistant mentor, among other roles he plays.

The award was conferred at the ASCE Oregon Section September Meeting on September 13.

California Bridge Tour

Students Go Big on California Bridge Tour

Oregon Institute of Technology students got an up-close look at bridge engineering on a large scale during a trip to the Mount Shasta area Sept. 28. A group of 16 students and faculty members Roger Lindgren and Matthew Sleep from the civil engineering department visited the Antlers Bridge Replacement construction site. The trip was organized by Oregon Tech’s Institute of Transportation Engineers student chapter with funding provided by Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium(OTREC).

Eric Akana, P.E., of the California Department of Transportation hosted the tour with CalTrans engineers Shari Re, Bill Barnes, and Mark Darnall.

The new Antlers Bridge, which spans the Sacramento River arm of Lake Shasta near the town of Lakehead, California, will be a balanced cantilever cast-in-place concrete bridge. The new bridge will consist of five spans coming together to make a 1,942-foot structure, approximately 600 feet longer than the original Antlers Bridge. The new bridge will replace an aging steel structure that is reaching the end of its service life. In addition, a section of highway south of the bridge will be realigned because of a high accident rate.

Bridge Tour

The Oregon Tech group met with CalTrans engineers for an extensive project review presentation at the field office and then proceeded to the construction site where they spent over two hours viewing foundation preparation, pier construction, pier-table form travelers, and abutment work.

In addition to viewing construction details and discussing bridge design with the project engineers, the students were also shown the extensive environmental protection measures taken during large-scale transportation construction projects including site runoff control and wildlife habitat protection. The group stopped at the headwaters of the Sacramento River in Mount Shasta City before returning to the Oregon Tech campus in Klamath Falls.

View all OTREC photos from the trip on Oregon Tech: Antlers Bridge Project