Dean's Newsletter December 2018
Thanksgiving break is a welcome reprieve, but a clear indication that another semester is about to come to a close. Much like our students, we're in a sprint to the finish with Commencement in our sights. On Saturday, we’ll welcome 69 students into the Vandal engineering alumni family.
One of those students is first-generation mechanical engineering student Mia Nakayama. Mia chose to come to the University of Idaho after receiving her first undergraduate degree in business from Hosei University in Tokyo, not far from her hometown.
Culturally, it’s common for Japanese graduates to jump straight into the workforce. Mia said her decision to continue her career, and travel across the globe to do it, was a big one: “I thought, ‘Am I really going to start job hunting when I’m 27?’ But my parents kept telling me, ‘Do whatever you want to do, just go for it.’ Whenever I felt sad, they were always supportive.”
Mia is one of our Grand Challenge Scholars Program (GCSP) students. Her literary research focused on the economic value of wind turbines in locations across the globe. Mia will graduate as one of 40 students currently in the program, a big jump from the eight students involved when our college launched the program in 2016, the first and only one of its kind in Idaho.
This program attracts all types of students interested in STEM fields. In addition, many of these students are like Mia, women engineers that come from underrepresented groups, making this program an example of our continued commitment to diversity and inclusion in our college.
In November, 12 new and returning GCSP students were awarded funding for exciting aspects of their projects to make the world a more sustainable, secure, healthy and joyful place. Students pitched their project ideas to a panel of judges, including members of the Academy of Engineers.
Read more about our Academy of Engineers inductees for 2018 and get updates on GCSP projects in this month’s newsletter.
Larry A. Stauffer
Dean, College of Engineering
Six New Members Join Academy of Engineers
We welcomed six new inductees into our Academy of Engineers, a mix of U of I alumni and others recognized for their personal contributions to engineering achievement, leadership, education, service to the profession and advancement of society.
This year's inductees include:
Arnold is vice president of operations for Pershing Gold Corporation in Lakewood, Colorado. He has more than 35 years of experience in open pit and underground hard rock mining, engineering and production, consulting and operations. He earned his bachelor’s in mining engineering from U of I in 1982. Arnold resides in Sparks, Nevada.
A native of Egypt, Elshabini was a faculty member at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University from 1979-99, where she received three teaching awards. She served as chair of the University of Arkansas Electrical Engineering Department until 2006 and as dean of the U of I College of Engineering until 2007, where she remains a professor emeritus. Elshabini resides in Anchorage, Alaska.
Keiser has more than 40 years of experience in the energy sector involving nuclear, fossil and renewable energy options. He worked at the Idaho National Laboratory and spent more than seven years as president and CEO of Intrepid Technology and Resources. He is a faculty member and research professor at U of I Idaho Falls, where he works with the Center for Advanced Energy Studies. Keiser earned his doctorate in mining engineering and metallurgy from U of I in 1975. He resides in Idaho Falls.
Miranda has served as the head of engineering at The Kraft Heinz Company since 2015 and as director of engineering since 2014. Miranda previously worked as the leader of the global manufacturing taskforce for the H.J. Heinz Company for two years. Miranda earned his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from U of I in 1985. He resides in Boise.
Sullivan is founder and partner at Veritas Advisors, a philanthropic fundraising and political consulting firm in Boise. Sullivan retired from the Boise Cascade Company after 27 years. He also worked for the chemical manufacturing company FMC Corporation for 13 years as an engineer, technical superintendent and marketing manager. Sullivan resides in Meridian.
White has worked for Encoder Products Company (EPC) in Sandpoint, the largest privately owned encoder manufacturer in North America, for the past 36 years. He has written code for early customer relationship management systems, developed various databases and designed numerous critical outputs for EPC. Through strategic deployment of effective software, White enabled EPC to take the building-to-shipment process from four to six weeks down to three to four business days. He earned his bachelor’s in computer science from U of I in 1982. White resides in Sagle.
Grand Challenge Scholars Earn Project Funding
Twelve engineering students attended the Grand Challenge Scholars Program Pitch Event this year, all vying for up to $3,500 in funding toward their projects by pitching to judges, including members from the Academy of Engineers, their ideas for making the world a more sustainable, secure, healthy and joyful.
All participants received varying amounts of funding this year. We couldn't be more proud of these students, their achievements so far, and the discovery and inspiration their projects will bring.
The Grand Challenge Scholars Program was developed by the National Academy of Engineers to prepare university students for the toughest challenges of the 21st century. Our college launched the program in 2016 and was the 28th college nationwide to have its program approved.
Grand Challenge Scholars Program students have a variety of projects in the works. Omolola Bangudu, one of the 2018 Pitch Event’s Platinum Winners, earned $2000 toward her project to construct a 3D model of a monkey's cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) system. Bangudu said transporting drugs to the brain through the blood is tedious because of a barrier that blocks most substances in the blood from getting to the brain. Transport drugs are used through the CSF to gain access. Nigerian-born Bangudu said monkeys are one of her favorite animals, and her project is designed to offer an alternative to this animal being used in CSF research.
Thanks to generous gifts from corporate sponsors and individuals alike, the Grand Challenge Scholars Program has grown from a small group of just eight students three years ago, to a class of 40.
“I recently conducted a case study at Michigan State’s biogas power facility, and I’ve built a small-scale digester to conduct my own lab testing using food waste on campus. The valuable research experience I have gained has allowed me to diversify myself as an engineering student.” Kenny Sheffler, Grand Challenge Scholars Program Student
This year is senior Kenny Sheffler's second year in the program. Kenny will graduate in May 2019 with an electrical engineering degree and a research portfolio in power production and anaerobic digestion, or the breaking down of biodegradable materials without oxygen.
This December, Sheffler will travel to Uruguay as part of an Alternative Service Break trip to help local subsistence farmers improve sustainable practices by building roads, helping with planting and harvest, and exploring ways to incorporate anaerobic digestion into their agricultural systems.
Schellenger Scholarship Helps Hard-Working Engineering Student
The cost of a college education can be difficult to manage, and the faculty and staff within our college are very aware that financial hurdles look different for every student.
“Without this scholarship, I wouldn’t be in school today. The Schellengers’ contribution let me join clubs and extracurriculars I didn’t think of participating in before.” Titus Hansen, Mechanical Engineering Major
When mechanical engineering student Titus Hansen first came to U of I, he began working the night shift as a custodian in the Bruce M. Pitman Center. Hansen was putting in 9-hour shifts after classes and was still struggling to make ends meet.
Titus is the most recent recipient of the Schellenger Scholarship in Engineering, established by Rick and Linda Schellenger. This scholarship kept Titus from having to borrow money and take on added student loan debt.
Engineering Senior and Athlete Ed Hall in the News
“A strenuous course load combined with athletics does not leave much time for distractions, which is advantageous. With careful time management, and a passion for my endeavors, I have reached the end of a rewarding experience.” Ed Hall, Mechanical Engineering Senior
Our engineering senior and Idaho Vandals linebacker Ed Hall has been all over the news lately. He was recently named to the Google Cloud Academic All-District 7 First Team, the first Vandal since 2008. He was also a semifinalist for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy, one of just 179 semifinalists spanning all divisions of the NCAA, as well as the NAIA.
Idaho Clean Snowmobile Team Attends Idaho Snowmobile Show
The Idaho Clean Snowmobile Team attended the Idaho Snowmobile Show on Nov. 16-17. The show showcases the latest in snowmobiles, snowbikes, riding gear, avalanche safety, performance accessories and destinations.
Since 2001, our Idaho Clean Snowmobile Team has competed in the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Clean Snowmobile Challenge to develop a snowmobile acceptable for use in environmentally sensitive areas.
During the 2018 competition, the team managed to bring the most powerful snowmobile to the competition, while still achieving third in the fuel economy event. The team scored highest out of all the teams with their technical design paper and presentation, and won awards for best handling, best acceleration, and best value, as well as one for their controls.