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Whitacre College of Engineering Today


Vanapalli Receives NSF CAREER Award

Dr. Siva Vanapalli, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, received an NSF CAREER Award for his proposal, "CAREER:Collective hydrodynamics of confined drops in microfluidic parking networks." The $400,000 award is a five-year award.

The objective of this research is to investigate the dynamics of trains of confined drops and/or long plugs in a special class of fluidic networks called microfluidic parking networks (MPNs). MPNs typically consist of a repeated sequence of loops, with each loop containing a fluidic trap to park (i.e. immobilize) drops.

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Presidio Students Group Photo
Presidio Students

Presidio Students Participate in White House Science Fair

Five years ago, a group of students and teachers from Presidio, Texas attended a summer rocketry camp and professional development workshop offered by the Texas Tech T-STEM Center. This motivated group, along with their teacher Shella Condino, worked so diligently over the last few years to overcome language barriers, limited budgets, and limited knowledge of engineering that they received a commendation from President Barak Obama at the White House Science Fair that was held on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

In the past five years, the Presidio team participated five times in the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC). At TARC, teams attempt to successfully design, build, and launch high-powered rockets that carry aloft scientific research payloads. Through the hard work and dedication of their teachers, the students' English language skills, academic content knowledge, study habits, work ethic, and confidence have improved dramatically, resulting in all of the students that attended the T-STEM camp five years ago graduating from high school and going on to college. One of the students, Janet Nieto is now a chemical engineering major at Texas Tech. When Nieto first came to Texas Tech for the rocketry camp, her English language knowledge was so limited that she would not have been able to attend Texas Tech.

The team has not only participated in the TARC competitions, they have placed in the top 20 nationally at TARC several times. This has allowed the team to submit a proposal to participate in the NASA Student Launch Initiative (SLI) at Marshall Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

To be able to participate in all of these competitions, despite a limited budged, the Presidio team has creatively worked to raise funds. One year, the team raffled a goat as a means of supporting their scientific discovery efforts.

The Presidio team is also the subject of a short documentary 'It IS Rocket Science in Presidio' by Academy and Emmy award winning director Nigel Nobel. The film will be released at the Rose Marine Latino Film Festival in Fort Worth on Feb. 25, 2012.

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SWE Conference Logo
SWE Conference

Texas Tech SWE Chapter Hosts Regional Conference

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Region C Conference was held in Lubbock at the Holiday Inn Park Plaza on Jan. 27-29. The Texas Tech student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers was the host. The theme for the conference was "Molding Successful Women Engineers."

More than 200 individuals attended the event, which included a career fair, workshops, keynote presentations, meetings, a banquet, as well as networking opportunities. The career fair hosted approximately 25 companies from across the country.

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FTC Competition Logo
FTC Competition

FTC Lubbock Qualifier Tournament Held, Regional Championship in March

Teams of 9th-12th graders from Lubbock and surrounding cities participated in the FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC) Lubbock Qualifier Tournament on Feb. 4, 2012 for an opportunity to win area recognition for design excellence, sportsmanship, and teamwork, and advance to the FTC Panhandle-Plains Regional Championship on March 3, 2012, also held here in Lubbock.

FTC is a challenging mid-level robotics competition designed for high school students who want a hands-on learning experience to develop and hone their skills and abilities in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Teams of up to 10 students are responsible for designing, building, and programming their robots to compete in an alliance format against other teams. The robot kit is reusable from year-to-year and is programmed using a variety of languages. Teams, including coaches, mentors, and volunteers, are required to develop strategy and build robots based on sound engineering principles.

On March 3, 2012, teams of 9th-12th graders from across the western third of the state will participate in the FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC) Panhandle-Plains Regional Championship Tournament for an opportunity to win statewide recognition for design excellence, sportsmanship and teamwork and to advance to the National Championship in St. Louis.

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Kelton ISD Group Photo
Kelton ISD

Kelton ISD Middle and High School Students Visit Texas Tech

Middle and high school students and teachers from Kelton ISD spent Friday, Jan. 22, 2012 touring the Texas Tech University campus and learning more about STEM education and careers. The day's events, hosted by the TTU T-STEM Academy, included a special welcome by Dean Al Sacco Jr. and workshops on computational thinking and engineering ethics presented by Dr. William Marcy, executive director of the TTU T-STEM Center and National Institute for Engineering Ethics/Murdough Center for Engineering Ethics, and Richard Burgess, deputy director for distance learning at the Murdough Center for Engineering Ethics.

In addition, Kelton ISD guests were treated to tours in engineering labs including microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and nanotechnology and robotics.

Kelton ISD, recently designated as a T-STEM school, is participating in a CPATH project sponsored by the Texas Tech T-STEM Academy and the Department of Computer Science. Eighteen students and four STEM teachers will coordinate efforts with Texas Tech engineering students to collect and examine data from weather stations throughout the spring semester.

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Student News

Gu Receives Award
Changzhan Gu

Gu Places Second at Biomedical Wireless Paper Contest

Changzhan Gu, a doctoral student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received second place in the Best Student Paper Award Competition at the IEEE Topical Conference on Biomedical Wireless Technologies, Networks & Sensing Systems, a part of the IEEE Radio Wireless Week held Jan. 15-18, 2012 in Santa Clara, Calif. Gu's paper was titled "Antenna Array Technology for Radar Respiration Measurement in Motion-Adaptive Lung Cancer Radiotherapy."

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US Capitol Building
Congressional Internship

Fielding Selected for Congressional Internship

Texas Tech's Office of the President selects new students each semester to take part in educational service to the nation's capital through its Congressional Internship Program.

Students who complete the program observe how the government functions while working for senators and representatives. Interns are chosen through a competitive interview and application process.

The spring 2012 interns include Austin Fielding, a senior mechanical engineering major from Austin, working in the office of U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess.

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Faculty News

Engineering and Biology Team Photo
Engineering and Biology Team

Transdisciplinary Research Academy Formed

Texas Tech has developed a new cohort of faculty members named to the new Transdisciplinary Research Academy.

The academy is designed to bring faculty members with diverse interests and from different disciplines together to explore questions that have a global impact and intersect with the strategic research themes of the university.

Faculty members were nominated by their college deans and screened by a committee of deans, associate deans, Horn professors, faculty and members of the Office of the Vice President for Research staff.

Whitacre College of Engineering faculty members are a part of three teams:

Engineering and Biology
Dr. Siva Vanapalli and Dr. Jerzy Blawzdziewicz, Whitacre College of Engineering and Dr. Kendra Rumbaugh, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. The team is working on development of innovative research projects at the intersection of medical sciences, biology, engineering, and physics.
Technology and Aesthetics
Dr. William Westney, College of Visual and Performing Arts; Dr. Michael O’Boyle, College of Human Sciences and Dr. James Yang, Whitacre College of Engineering. This project integrates the fields of artistic performance, pedagogy, advanced technology and philosophy and will seeks to ascertain whether or to what extent, approaches that have seemed like potential “best practices” can now be verified by scientific means.
Water Cycles and Resources Science
Dr. Richard Zartman, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources; Dr. Juske Horita, College of Arts and Sciences and Dr. Ken Rainwater, Whitacre College of Engineering. The goal of the team is to advance the scientific understanding of the water-energy cycle within the atmosphere-surface-subsurface continuum on a regional scale in the Southern High Plains.

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Hope-Weeks Named YWCA Woman of Excellence

Dr. Louisa Hope-Weeks, associate dean for research and associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, will be inducted into the Lubbock YWCA's Women of Excellence academy on March 6, 2012.

The Women of Excellence program honors women of Lubbock who have achieved excellence in their careers or professions and contributed to business, industry, community organizations and the community. Including this year’s nine award recipients, the YWCA has honored 194 Women of Excellence since 1989.

Pride by Design Book Cover
Pride by Design

Pantoya and Hunt Publish Second Children's Book

Dr. Michelle Pantoya, a professor of mechanical engineering, and Dr. Emily Hunt, a professor at West Texas A&M University, have published their second children's book. "Pride by Design" features Raider Red and Raiderland and aims to stimulate young interest in engineering by portraying how sports and engineering go hand in hand.


Alumni News

McCavit Receives Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center Merit Award

Jack McCavit, a current member of the Chemical Engineering External Advisory Board and a 1970 Texas Tech Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering graduate, received the Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center Merit Award for 2011. The Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center is a part of the engineering program at Texas A&M University and memorializes the name of Mary Kay O'Connor who died in 1989 in a chemical plant accident. The center established the Merit Award to recognize an individual who has made significant contributions to the advancement of education, research, or service activities related to process safety concepts and/or technologies. Process safety deals with the prevention and control of incidents that can result in fires, explosions, or toxic releases from chemical plants or refineries.

McCavit became an independent consultant at JL McCavit Consulting, LLC in 2005 after working for Celanese Chemical Company for 35 years. He is a Fellow of the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) and a CCPS Staff Consultant. He served as chair of the CCPS committee that developed the book, Guidelines for Risk Based Process Safety.

McCavit and his wife Sherry live in Pampa, Texas. Sherry and their three sons, Todd, Tim, and Trey are all graduates of Texas Tech.

Grants and Contracts

January 24, 2012 – February 15, 2012

Chemical Engineering

  • Dr. Siva A. Vanapalli was awarded $400,000 by the National Science Foundation. The title of the proposal was "CAREER: Collective Hydrodynamics of Confined Drops in Microfluidic Parking Networks."

Center for Multidisciplinary Research in Transportation

  • Drs. William D. Lawson, Daan Liang, Kenneth A. Rainwater, and Sanjaya P. Senadheera were awarded $55,294.20 by the TX Department of Transportation. The title of the proposal was "0-6793 TxDot Snow and Ice."

Center for Nanophotonics

  • Drs. Hongxing Jiang and Jingyu Lin were awarded $126,293 by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The title of the proposal was "Nitride Deep UV Emitters with Novel P-type Layer Approach."

Center for Pulsed Power and Power Electronics

  • Drs. James C. Dickens and Andreas A. Neuber were awarded $190,048 by the AFOSR/Univ of Wisconsin. The title of the proposal was "Counter HPM." Neuber is the PI.
  • Drs. Stephen B. Bayne and Michael G. Giesselmann were awarded $250,000 by the U.S. Army Research Office. The title of the proposal was "Semiconductor Evaluation for EM Gun Applications."

Electrical and Computer Engineering

  • Dr. Hamed Sari-Sarraf was awarded $55,147.50 by Cotton Incorporated. The title of the proposal was "Establishing a Set of Reference Cottons for the Simultaneous Measurements of Length and Maturity."
  • Dr. Hamed Sari-Sarraf was awarded $37,579.50 by Cotton Incorporated. The title of the proposal was "Moisture Management Measurement via Thermal Infrared Imaging."

Water Resources Center

  • Drs. William A. Jackson, Audra N. Morse, and Weile Yan were awarded $36,862.80 by the TX Department of Transportation. The title of the proposal was "0-6793 TxDot Snow and Ice."

See a full listing of the college's events on the Engineering Master Calendar.

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