Faculty Highlights – Fall 2013

From the desk of . . .

Sushil Adhikari, assistant professor of biosystems engineering, received the 2013 New Holland Young Researcher Award from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, which recognized him as the top researcher under the age of 40. Adhikari was honored for his outstanding contributions to the advancement of bioenergy and biofuels research, as well as for his enhancement in the profession by developing a program devoted to discovery and education in the field of agricultural and biological engineering.

Sushil Bhavnani, Henry M. Burt Jr. professor of mechanical engineering, has been named a fellow in the 2013-14 SEC Academic Leadership Development Program, a professional organization that seeks to identify, prepare and advance academic leaders for roles within Southeastern Conference institutions and beyond.

J T. Black, professor emeritus of industrial and systems engineering, was mentioned in the Journal of the Association of Military Industrial Engineers as one of the “architects of the practice of industrial engineering.” Black’s name appeared among historical figures such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Frederick W. Taylor and Henry Ford.

Jerry Davis, Nuclear Power Systems associate professor of industrial and systems engineering, was recognized for 10 years of active membership and participation in the American Society of Safety Engineers.

Jeffrey Fergus, professor of materials engineering, has received a $300,000, three-year grant from the Department of Energy to investigate longer lasting, cost-effective coatings for fossil energy conversion systems. Fossil fuel systems, such as modern turbine engines, use high temperatures and pressures for efficient energy conversion, requiring long-term heat-resistant coatings on the engine components. Fergus seeks to develop cost-effective, corrosion-resistant thermal barrier coating systems that will replace the current platinum-containing coating systems.

Sean Gallagher, associate professor in industrial and systems engineering, was recognized with two Don B. Chaffin awards; one for podium presentation and another for round table presentation at the 2013 Applied Ergonomics Conference held in Dallas, Texas.

Yasser Gowayed, professor of polymer and fiber engineering, and George Flowers, professor of mechanical engineering, are studying composite structures during operation and how the interference monitoring systems impact these structures. Through a $270,000 grant from the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, they’re working with intelligent fiber optic systems to investigate implementing fiber Bragg grating-based structural health sensors to evaluate their accuracy and adaptability to the manufacturing and operation of composite structures.

Roy Hartfield, Woltosz professor of aerospace engineering, has received a two-year, $100,000 grant from NASA to study sub-cooled liquid propane as a primary propellant for multiple stage rocket powered launch vehicles, which could offer advantages over traditional fuels and liquid hydrogen from both a performance and logistics perspective. Sub-cooled propane has the highest density specific impulse of any hydrocarbon when paired with liquid oxygen. It can also be stored at liquid oxygen temperatures and is a viable fuel in a single tank configuration for a given stage during which the fuel and oxidizer are separated by a baffle.

Daniela Marghitu, Comp 1000 coordinator in computer science and software engineering and the university’s AccessComputing coordinator, has received grants from Microsoft Fuse Research and the AccessComputing Alliance to develop and implement two introductory computer science courses at Opelika Middle School this fall. The courses will be taught to seventh and eighth grade students using Computer Science Unplugged, a system that teaches principles of computer science without using computers, as well as the game-creating program Microsoft Kodu and computer programming tool Alice by Carnegie Mellon University.

Victor Nelson, professor of electrical and computer engineering, received the Distinguished Member Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Educational Society. Nelson is recognized for his leadership and service on the IEEE Education Society Board of Governors and as chair of the constitution and by-laws committee, as well as for related professional contributions through publications, accreditation activities and as an associate editor.

Richard Sesek, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering, recently received national recognition as the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) recipient of the Certified Safety Professional Award of Excellence. In addition to being honored by his peers in both the American Society of Safety Engineers and the BCSP, Sesek was recognized by students in the department as the outstanding faculty member of the year.

Jeff Smith, Joe W. Forehand Jr. professor of industrial and systems engineering, received the 2012 Distinguished Service Award from the INFORMS Simulation Society for providing long-standing, exceptional service to the simulation community. As part of a year-long sabbatical, Smith taught a hands-on workshop for professors entitled, “Rapid Modeling with Intelligent Objects: Simio Academic Grant Program Training,” at the University of the Bundeswehr in Munich, Germany in April.

Steven Taylor, department head and professor of biosystems engineering and director of Auburn University’s Center for Bioenergy and Bioproducts, has been named a fellow in the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers in recognition of his accomplishments in structural wood engineering education and forest engineering research. In addition, he is being honored for his service to the wood products industry and his academic leadership of biological engineering programs.

David Timm, Brasfield & Gorrie professor of civil engineering, served as a keynote speaker at the 15th International Flexible Pavements Conference in Brisbane, Australia. The conference, hosted by the Australian Asphalt Pavement Association, included experts from around the world to discuss new age solutions in asphalt production, testing and performance. Timm’s talk featured research findings from the National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) Pavement Test Track. He also presented NCAT’s test track research in post-conference master classes held in Brisbane and Sydney, which were aimed at developing and implementing perpetual pavement design in Australia.

Jorge Valenzuela, department chair of industrial and systems engineering, designed a three-hour study abroad course in international logistics, which was held for the first time this spring at the Universidad Technica Federico Santa Maria (UTFSM) in Valparaiso, Chile.

Jin Wang, Buddy Redd associate professor of chemical engineering, has received a $50,000 renewal grant from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation for her work on “Next-Generation Control Solutions for Sustainable Manufacturing in Pulp Mills.”