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Fax: (208) 282-7929
Email: debrac@uidaho.edu

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Engineering Outreach
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Larry Stauffer Dean of the College of Engineering University of Idaho

Vandal Engineering News

 Message from the Dean
 Eric Wolbrecht’s FINGER Robot Helping Stroke Patients
 Third Annual Engineers Without Borders-UI Gala March 6th
 Arnie Rusten ’75 & ’77 Named 2014 Washington Engineer of the Year
 Karen Den Braven Director of NIATT Retires

A Newsletter for Alumni and Friends


You wouldn’t know it by the recent weather in Moscow, but spring break is coming. Before we all head off to warmer locations, there is still quite a bit of business to finish.

First, I want to welcome the 18th University of Idaho President, Chuck Staben, who officially took office March 1st. As Interim President Don Burnett eloquently put in his last Friday Letter, "In the life of a university, there is a sequence of inter-generational giving and receiving, not unlike the sequence of seasons in the Arboretum itself. In leadership, there is a similar succession of seasons." I also want to thank Don Burnett for his steady hand as Interim President and I look forward to working with President Staben after he settles in.

I am eager to discuss the College of Engineering’s student success, faculty research, and industry partnerships with President Staben in order to develop and promote common goals. Much of what we will discuss will be covered in my upcoming State of the College address. As a reminder, if you are in the Boise area Tuesday March 11, and are interested in attending the State of the College social event please click here to find out more information and how to RSVP.

In brief, the State of the College address will outline college data, noting that while overall university enrollment is down, the College of Engineering’s numbers are up and we fully expect that trend to continue as we move closer to fall registration. Even though this is good news, it comes with associated challenges, one of those is retention. I will review our plans on increasing retention rates and current efforts we have underway such as our new Engineering Foundations program. It is a curriculum developed to provide freshman and sophomore students the ability to work in a cohort on a long-term hands-on project, similar to our successful senior design program. Our goal is that by providing creative experiential learning opportunities to younger students, they will develop bonds and strategies that will give them more tools to be successful.

In addition, the State of the College will highlight our research achievements in FY2013 including the over $15 million in external funding and grants that our faculty and researchers have secured. Of particular significance is the work underway at U-Idaho’s National Institute of Advanced Transportation Technology (NIATT). In fact, while in Boise, I have been invited to make a presentation to the Idaho Senate Transportation committee on the extent of U-Idaho's transportation research footprint. In particular, I will discuss our 25 year relationship with the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and the financial, workforce, educational, and research impacts derived from this partnership.

My State of the College talk will also emphasize our on-going partnership with the Micron Foundation and the progress we have made to develop a world-class Microelectronics Research Center (MRC) at the University of Idaho. I anticipate there will be more to announce about this in the near future but with Micron’s help we hope to expand broad-based microelectronics instruction and research at the undergraduate and graduate levels and focus on advancing electronic packaging and related integrated chip design-- areas of high importance to the industry.

So as we look forward to the changing of the season and the changing of university leadership, we also look forward to continued growth in the College of Engineering’s academic programs, research activity and industry partnerships.  Again, if you are in Boise March 11 please consider attending our State of the College social event. I look forward to the opportunity to have this conversation with you about the college’s progress towards our priorities and more.


Larry A. Stauffer, Dean


Eric Wolbrecht’s FINGER Robot Helping Stroke Patients

Finger UI mechanical engineering professor Eric Wolbrecht and colleague David Reinkensmeyer have published new research in the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation on their work testing FINGER or Finger Individuating Grasp Exercise Robot. FINGER is a device for assisting in finger rehabilitation after neurologic injury. Wolbrecht’s research team developed FINGER to assist stroke patients in moving their fingers individually in a naturalistic curling motion while playing a game similar to Guitar Hero®. Their goal was to make FINGER capable of assisting with motions where precise timing is important. Wolbrecht's research provides insight into the important role robots can play in the rehabilitation stroke patients. Read the complete Biome interview with Wolbrech & Reinkensmeyer and watch how FINGER works.  


Third Annual Engineers Without Borders-UI Gala March 6th

Engineers without Borders

Engineers Without Borders, University of Idaho Chapter (EWB-UI) will host an evening of fine food and live music to support EWB-UI’s sustainable water supply project in the village of Chiwirapi, Bolivia on March 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Moscow’s historic 1912 Center. Appetizers and drinks are being provided by Maialina Pizzeria Napoletana and desserts from Nectar/Bloom. Entertainment will be provided by local Moscow bands Buckingham, and Simbaland and the Exceptional Africans. The evening also features a gala silent auction fundraiser that will help the EWB-UI team as they prepare to implement the first phase of a potable water supply project this June. The gala is open to the public, and tickets are $20, available at the door or at BookPeople of Moscow. Click here for additional information on the gala and EWB-UI.


Arnie Rusten ’75 & ’77 Named 2014 Washington Engineer of the Year

Arnie Rusten

On January 25, 2014, the American Council of Engineering Companies of Washington (ACECW) awarded the prestigious Engineer of the Year award to Arnfinn (Arnie) Rusten, PE, SE, for his outstanding contributions to the engineering community. Rusten is the CEO of BergerABAM in Federal Way, WA. The Engineer of the Year is bestowed annually to an engineer who embodies the highest level of service and integrity to the engineering profession. Rusten is a registered structural engineer in Washington, and a professional engineer in Washington, Utah, Oregon, and Louisiana. A native of Norway, he earned a bachelor’s (’75) and master’s (’77) in civil engineering from the University of Idaho. He joined BergerABAM in 1977 as a junior design engineer. Click here for more more on Arnie’s accomplishments.


Karen Den Braven Director of NIATT Retires

Dr Karen

After 27 years with the University of Idaho, Karen Den Braven, professor of mechanical engineering, director of the National Institute of Advanced Transportation Technology (NIATT), and founding faculty advisor to the UI Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Clean Snowmobile Challenge team, is retiring. Professor & Director Emerita Den Braven plans to spend her retirement in South Carolina closer family. But while she is leaving the challenge of developing a cleaner, quieter, more efficient snowmobile engine at UI, Professor Den Braven is looking forward to tackling new challenges as Director of Engineering Programs for the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM). Click here for more on Karen Den Braven’s legacy of excellence in hands-on learning and transportation research.


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