As faculty at Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) return to campus for annual Convocation activities this week, many have been hard at work over the summer on grant proposals and preparation for award money implementation.

Dr. Maria Lynn Kessler, Oregon Tech Professor of Psychology and Program Director of Applied Psychology-Wilsonville, received an award in the amount of $182,177 from the Oregon Talent Council for an Applied Behavior Analysts training program to serve children and families affected by autism. The grant will be used to build the statewide structure necessary to meet critical workforce training needs in behavioral health. The project, Supervised Practicum in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): Building Oregon's Autism Behavioral Health Workforce through University/Industry Partnerships, will increase statewide access to the education and practicum experiences necessary for employed and emerging workers to meet licensure standards. Oregon Tech, working with industry partners, will expand its current Applied Behavior Analysis coursework to include a network of student practicum sites with qualified on-site supervisors. Coursework will be offered in Wilsonville and Medford – the latter in collaboration with Southern Oregon University – and available through videoconferencing to students in the communities where they live and work across Oregon.

Dr. Kessler said, “Recent legislation has improved insurance coverage for ABA therapy for all families with autism in Oregon. However, access to highly qualified ABA therapists across the state remains a real challenge. With this grant, Oregon Tech will meet this need, enabling greater numbers of caring, highly educated therapists to help more children with autism and their families in Oregon thrive.”

Stephanie Machado, an Instructor and Research Coordinator within Oregon Tech’s Population Health Management Program (PHM), received an award of nearly $10,000 from the Cascade Health Alliance (CHA) to utilize PHM skills of planning, implementation and evaluation for a community outreach project to increase CHA’s community outreach presence and promote council member recruitment. The CHA Community Advisory Council is working with Oregon Tech’s PHM Research Center to develop a strategic outreach and engagement plan, recruit a diverse body of CAC members, and increase visibility of and participation in the health education programs offered through CHA.

With new grants amounting to more than $114,000 from Portland State’s National Institute for Transportation and Communities’ University Transportation Center, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, Dr. C.J. Riley, has been working with students to develop a transportation structure educational module and increase Oregon Tech’s research capacity related to the structural health monitoring for bridges. Dr. Riley and graduate students Jason Millar and Sam Lozano have been working with iPod-based accelerometers to measure ambient structural vibrations and determine structural characteristics with the data. The team now seeks to develop these methods and employ forced harmonic vibration to excite various modes of vibration in transportation structures, as this method is proven to be more accurate than ambient vibration from vehicle excitation. A previous NITC grant initiated a research focus on transportation structural health monitoring at Oregon Tech.

Dr. Riley shared, “The goal of the most recent grant is to fully develop a structural evaluation toolkit, based on virtual visual sensors, which could be used to supplement bridge and other transportation structure inspection and assist in structural evaluations after significant events like a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake. Catastrophic events like this will challenge infrastructure managers to evaluate structures and return them to service as quickly and reliably as possible. The toolkit resulting from this work would promote environmental sustainability, safety and transportation infrastructure resiliency by more simply and accurately measuring transportation structure performance and supporting transportation asset management decisions. It would also move structural health monitoring out of the academic and consulting realm and into broader and more regular use by inspection groups at departments of transportation.”

Dr. Kerry Byrne, Assistant Professor of Natural Sciences, worked over the summer on a variety of research projects and is preparing groundwork for a grant from the Bureau of Land Management. The $21,000 award (with an additional $79,000 pending) provides funding for research, including student research assistants, regarding the impact of drought on sagebrush management. Dr. Byrne serves as Principal Investigator in collaboration with an Assistant Professor at California State University Chico to investigate the impacts of intense, long-term drought on the western Great Basin sagebrush ecosystem, working with a team of Environmental Science undergraduates from Oregon Tech. “We aim to accomplish our research goals by implementing a drought experiment near Gerber Reservoir, in native sagebrush vegetation,” said Dr. Byrne. “This drought experiment is part of a large network of concurrent drought experiments using the same methods, called the International Drought Experiment (IDE) network. I am collecting data on forage production, and plant community composition, and Dr. Kaczynski is collecting data on plant stress over four years to determine how the plant community might respond to severe drought, which will help inform future management decisions for the Bureau of Land Management.”

Other grants received since July 1 include:

Civil Engineering
Professor Dr. Roger Lindgren received $70,000 from Portland State’s National Institute for Transportation and Communities’ University Transportation Center grants.
  • $15,000 to support programmatic enrichment activities for students enrolled in Oregon Tech Transportation Engineering courses.
  • $15,000 to provide scholarships for students enrolled in Oregon Tech Transportation Engineering courses.
  • $40,000 to provide funding for the development of instructional modules for obtaining vehicle dynamics data with smartphone sensors.

Natural Science
Associate Professor Dr. Michael Hughes received $75,000 from the Bureau of Reclamation for a climate change water measurement and community outreach project. The award will provide $8,400 for student programmatic work. Under this agreement, Oregon Tech is the coordinating entity for a high-profile group including federal, state, and local agencies, as well as some private land owners. This group will be the first ever work group focusing on improvement of water measurement technology in the Klamath Basin.

Mechanical Engineering Technology
Dr. Mateo Aboy, a Renewable Energy Engineering faculty member currently on sabbatical and former Vice President of the Wilsonville campus, received an award from the Northwest Collaboratory for Sustainable Manufacturing. The $100,000 award provides funding for equipment to be used in the Manufacturing Engineering Technology program. The MMET Department would like this grant award to serve a dual purpose: first, to ensure that the funds strongly support the applied research efforts associated with the NWCSM and the emerging OMIC; and second, to find ways by which equipment purchased for applied research also can be utilized within academic courses that comprise the MMET degree programs offered at the Wilsonville campus.

South Metro-Salem STEM Hub
Melissa DuBois received $140,000 from the Office of Community College and Workforce Development, through the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to expand access to the STEM Hub’s industry outreach platform, Oregon Connections, to include statewide Workforce Boards.