In August, 14 Auburn Engineering students involved with Engineers Without Borders spent a week in Quesimpuco, Bolivia, meeting mayors and community members in three Quechuan villages to assess technology projects that will improve the health of the people and the economies of the region. The trip initiated a multi-year partnership between Auburn and communities in the Andean region. During the visit, students conducted basic surveys of croplands, existing water sources and aqueducts, cooking practices, fuel sources and sanitation practices. Students are meeting in Auburn this fall to identify projects for a return trip in summer 2011.
From left, center director Rodney Robertson, Drew Hamilton of computer science and software engineering, Bruce Tatarchuk of chemical engineering and Auburn University President Jay Gogue.
Opened July 1, Auburn’s new Huntsville Research Center is working closely with area industry and federal agencies to develop cyber security technologies designed to protect U.S. soldiers and military information systems. The center is headed by Rodney Robertson, former director of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s technical center, and will concentrate on projects in defense, aerospace, advanced manufacturing, life sciences, biotechnology, information technology and other federal and state government priorities.
"Bringing the best minds and ideas together enables us to tackle the nation’s most difficult problems," said Robertson. "Auburn researchers are passionate about discovery and innovation. We’re eager to bring our capabilities and resources to the table with our Huntsville colleagues to deliver the best results for Alabama and the nation."
If you haven’t “liked” the college’s Facebook page, you should. Catch up on everything from news updates, event photos and student highlights. We recently asked alums to tell us about their favorite engineering professor. See what they had to say on Facebook.
Researchers in the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Alabama Center for Paper and Bioresource Engineering have partnered with Masada Resource Group to develop a series of technologies that utilize waste streams from pulp and paper mills. If all U.S. pulp mills converted to this process, an additional two billion gallons of ethanol could be produced from waste streams each year. Faculty members Harry Cullinan, Gopal Krishnagopalan, Y.Y. Lee and senior research fellow Sung-Hoon Yoon developed methods to extract fermentable elements of current waste streams for conversion into ethanol.
Hundreds of students have signed on to earn graduate degrees via the college’s distance learning program, aptly called Electronically Delivered Graduate Education or EDGE. Auburn has been in the distance learning business for 20 years and has a respected program offering master’s degrees, as well as a wide variety of continuing education courses. In 2009, the program delivered 145 courses to more than 600 students from 47 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and produced 69 graduates. Last year, the college ramped up delivery options, offering students access to classes by streaming audio and video, as well as podcasts and CDs.
Billy Lovelady puts to rest the old stereotype that engineers can’t write. Lovelady ’86 recently authored a children’s book, The Adventures of Johnny Saturday: The Helper, which has been published nationally by Authorhouse and is available in online bookstores. The book is set to be a series. Holding bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering, Lovelady is 24 years into his engineering career and is a senior engineering manager for Raytheon Technical Services. English may not seem to be the highest priority for engineers, but Lovelady says he read a lot as a child and developed an appreciation for writing as he neared the end of his studies at Auburn.
Tim Cook, Robertsdale, Ala., native and ‘82 industrial and systems engineering alumnus, delivered the keynote address at Auburn’s spring commencement ceremonies. As COO of Apple Inc., Cook is responsible for the corporation’s sales and operations, including worldwide management of supply chain, sales, service and product support, as well as Apple’s Macintosh division. Cook has served as chair of the ISE Alumni Council and as a member of the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council. He established an endowed fund for excellence, the Cook Leadership Scholarship and a departmental professorship.
After Hurricane Katrina, cleanup costs were in the hundreds of millions and most resulted from damage to infrastructure elements, such as city buildings, bridges, fire hydrants, gas meters and sewer lines. Auburn Engineering is leading a student-run, geospatial mapping project of coastal Alabama’s infrastructure elements to locate these facilities in the event of future hurricanes or other disasters. These maps will offer first responders usable tools to expedite recovery and reduce costs by an estimated 40 percent. Students have already collected geospatial data from 67 miles of Alabama’s coastline and mapped the geographic information systems locations of more than 9,500 infrastructure elements.
Auburn engineers have teamed up with scientists at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, and researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow and Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, to develop edible and compostable electronics. Edible circuits are imprinted on biodegradable films and sensors made from organic materials, such as beta-carotene, indigo, caffeine, glucose, coloring materials and DNA, to identify the ripeness of fruit or detect vibrations of hyper-sensitive materials during transportation. Materials faculty member Jeff Fergus says that a consumer simply puts the sensor in with organic waste or eats it. With some development, edible electronics could also be used for building toys that keep children safe if swallowed.
On a map, the border between Alabama and Florida appears as a bold, black line. Although the official Alabama-Florida line differs from the original, called the mound line, most land surveys are still based on the original, which was lost for many years. Now, Milton Denney, a surveyor who works part time with Auburn, has helped rediscover it using a map from 1854, Google Earth, global information systems and global positioning systems. “The line was probably the least defined line between the states because nobody knew where the mounds were,” said Denney. There were 120 original mounds, but Denny expects to eventually document 35 to 40. Whatever the outcome, discovery of the original line doesn’t change the official state line. Alabama and Florida have settled on 31 degrees latitude as the border, which can be easily located by GPS.
Auburn students and alumni have been hard at work developing the latest applications for Apple products. Check them out:
Harley Harp, senior in computer science and software engineering, created an Auburn University football roster app that is available for the iPhone, iPod and iPad. Users can find information and biographies about the players and coaches, assign each player a personal rating and create a roster of favorite players. The app also contains Auburn’s football schedule and an option to subscribe to news feeds.
Prateek Hejmady, graduate student in computer science and software engineering, developed an app called Parking Rummage, an on-campus parking solution that works on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Users can locate the closest parking lot, and receive a reminder of where their car is parked on campus. He is working to make it available in Apple’s app store and integrate it with Auburn University Parking Services.
Ben Rigas, software engineering ’04, has developed
an app for the iPad called Sketch Journal, a drawing
application that organizes drawings in books,
allowing users to flip through pages of drawings.
They can be shared via e-mail or saved to the image
library. He also co-developed an augmented reality
iPhone app called AR Ghost, which overlays images
of ghosts onto the camera preview screen. By combining
the iPhone compass and accelerometer, the position of the
ghost appears to stay in the same location within a room. Sound
effects enhance the sense that ghosts are nearby. Rigas is a senior
research and development engineer at Interop Technologies in
Fort Myers, Fla.
Tell us about your apps at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Alabama Commission on Higher Education has given a thumbs up to Auburn Engineering’s doctorate in polymer and fiber engineering. It is the first of its kind in the state, offering graduate students courses and research opportunities in biopolymers, nanomaterials, polymer physics and smart fibers. The department will begin accepting students this fall. Polymer and Fiber Engineering was established as the Department of Textile Engineering in 1929. Its name and curriculum were changed in 2005, and a master’s of science in polymer and fiber engineering was approved in 2006.
Auburn Engineering continues to offer scholarships to the best and brightest. Sanjeev Baskiyar, associate professor in computer science and software engineering, recently received $600,000 from the National Science Foundation to award more than 55 scholarships for the next four years to outstanding undergraduate students studying computer science and software engineering and graduate students studying computer systems and embedded computing.
Sometimes, the grass is actually greener on your side. Auburn’s autonomous lawnmower team placed third at the seventh annual ION Robotic Lawn Mower Competition in June, earning a $4,000 prize. Engineering students designed and operated a robotic unmanned lawnmower, using navigation to rapidly and accurately mow a field of grass. Teams were judged on technical presentations, inspection, qualifications and a real-world competition where they mowed a field of grass for the best cut. Judged by a panel of landscape professionals, the winning team mowed its field to 75 percent and offered the most aesthetically pleasing final product. The mowing competition served as 80 percent of a team’s total score, while 20 percent was based on the team’s presentation and report.
For more on the competition visit www.automow.com
Engineering undergrads recently competed in NASA’s Lunabotics Mining Competition at Kennedy Space Center. The team dug as much simulated lunar soil as possible in 15 minutes using a telerobotic excavator of their own design and construction. Twenty-nine university teams entered the competition, with 23 competing in the digging event. Auburn’s team dug the second largest amount, winning $2,500. In addition, they won the systems engineering paper competition, earning another award of $500. The team included mechanical engineering students Jameson Colbert, Dionel Sylvester, Mark Keske, electrical engineering students Michael Payne and Eddie Thomas and computer science student William Woodall.
Auburn University was recently ranked 38th among public universities nationwide, up from 39th last year, according to an annual survey released this fall by U.S. News & World Report. The ranking marks the 18th consecutive year the magazine has ranked Auburn among the nation’s top 50 public universities. Auburn Engineering’s undergraduate program ranked 56th nationally overall—up from 64th last year—and 32nd among public universities that offer doctoral programs in engineering. The college also saw an increase in average ACT scores for incoming freshmen, up to 28.4 from 27.8 last year. Undergraduate female enrollment, as well as minority enrollment, increased by a percentage point, each up from 16 percent last year.
In September, the Washington Post reported that more women than men received doctoral degrees last year. Of the doctoral degrees awarded in the 2008–2009 academic year, 28,962 went to women and 28,469 to men, according to an annual enrollment report from the Council of Graduate Schools, based in Washington, D.C. Men retained the lead in doctoral degrees until 2008, largely through their dominance in engineering, mathematics and the physical sciences. They still earn nearly 80 percent of engineering doctorates. At Auburn, 14 engineering doctorates were awarded to women during the 2008–2009 school year, 28 percent of the degrees awarded.