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Jasmine Worlds Earns Leadership Award

Jasmine Worlds

Jasmine Worlds

The Women of Color STEM Conference has named UT’s Jasmine Worlds the 2017 recipient of the Student Leadership Award from the Career Communication Group.

Worlds, a senior in mechanical engineering, was honored for her work in engineering and her commitment to volunteer outside the classroom. She received the award October 7 at the group’s conference in Detroit, Michigan.

“UT provides many opportunities for its students to lead,” said Worlds. “Having the opportunity to create or influence change is important, and UT has provided a space where it is possible to do so.”

A native of Arlington, Tennessee, Worlds participated in the 2013 Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance in Minority Participation summer bridge program and was later appointed the academic excellence chair for the National Society of Black Engineers chapter at UT.

With NSBE, Worlds was able to implement study halls and several academic incentives, and was instrumental in providing chapter members with scholarship information and encouragement to compete in regional/national competitions. She also helped coordinate the group’s “Mini-Seek” event, which brings 100 elementary students on UT’s campus for a day each year

Worlds has served as a precollege counselor during several summer camps, in the Office of Engineering Diversity programs, and as a student chair for the WomEngineers Leadership Council.

In that role, she worked with faculty, staff, alumni, and senior-level industry representatives to plan the first annual WomEngineers First-Year Welcome Dinner and a one-day conference for nearly 400 attendees.

“I’ve surrounded myself with others who are just as goal-driven and hard working as I am, and those relationships have shaped me into a motivated, career-driven individual,” said Worlds. “I am extremely passionate about the diversity and inclusion efforts within the college, and receiving this award confirms that I have been able to make an impactful difference.”

Her time at UT has opened up several opportunities for her, including a co-op experience with Fiat Chrysler, a study abroad experience in London, and time spent working with PepsiCo/Frito Lay in Dallas. She plans to return to PepsiCo/Frito Lay as a project engineer after graduating in May.

Read more about the Women of Color STEM Conference

Engineering students in labs

Naming of Tickle College of Engineering Already Producing Results

On October 14, 2016, the UT Board of Trustees voted to name the Tickle College of Engineering after John D. Tickle in recognition of his most recent transformative gift to his alma mater.

Barely a year later, the impact of that gift has been felt in almost every corner of the college.

“Part of my giving is my goal of helping lift the profile of the college to one that that makes them say ‘Wow!’ and take notice,” said Tickle, a 1965 industrial engineering graduate. “To do that takes supporting and developing many different aspects, from structures to spaces to personnel.”

Part of Tickle’s support was used to establish named professorships to help the college recruit, retain, and support the work of leading faculty.

Joshua Fu, the John D. Tickle Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Lawrence Heilbronn, the John D. Tickle Associate Professor of Nuclear Engineering, are the first two recipients.

Fu is a foremost expert in air quality and environmental research, serving as an expert advisor on the topic for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. Since coming to UT in 2000, he has completed projects for several high-profile agencies, including NASA and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Heilbronn is an expert in nuclear measurements and heavy ions, having co-written a handbook on the second topic. He was twice named the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory outstanding performance award recipient, and has been named professor of the year in the department three times since coming to UT in 2008.

Tickle’s gift allowed the college to hire two new advisors to better serve the needs of its students.

It also created the the Tickle Fellows program, which will eventually fund 30 graduate students at any given time. The first class of 11 is enrolled this fall, with every department having at least one student selected.

“John has been a key partner for our college and for this university since the day he graduated,” said Wayne Davis, dean of the college. “He believes in us, our mission, and our students, and he wants those students to be well prepared to take on the world’s challenges.”

Along with his wife, Ann, Tickle has supported a number of ventures across UT’s campus, including previous support for professorships, athletics initiatives, and building projects such as the John D. Tickle Engineering Building, the John and Ann Tickle Small Animal Hospital, and the John and Ann Tickle Athletic Development Suite in the Brenda Lawson Athletic Center.

Tickle also has provided key funding for a new building for the college, approved by the state this year. The design of that building has yet to be revealed.

Bredesen Center Students Attend Policy Conference

Christine Ajinjeru, left to right, Mallory Ladd, and Jayde Aufrecht tour Washington, DC, during the 2017 Women In Global Policy conference.

Christine Ajinjeru, left to right, Mallory Ladd, and Jayde Aufrecht tour Washington, DC, during the 2017 Women In Global Policy conference.

A trio of UT students from the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education got a chance to study, collaborate, and meet with other women from around the world at the recent Women in Global Policy conference in Washington, D.C.

Mallory Ladd, Christine Ajinjeru, and Jayde Aufrecht attended the weeklong event, which included discussions and debates, as well as visits to places where the country’s international polices are made and put to the test, including the U.S. Department of State. The three are part of the Energy Science and Engineering doctoral program at the Bredesen Center.

“We got to meet with diplomats, politicians, managers from agencies, officials from non-governmental organizations—really a wide range of backgrounds,” said Ajinjeru. “It was inspiring to see women getting together to tackle policies that impact the world.”

The trio split up for breakout sessions, which were themed around specific areas or problems around the world. For example, one activity was themed around finding solutions to one of two humanitarian crises: an international refugee situation or an HIV/AIDS outbreak.

Ladd said the exercise forced participants to focus on finding the best solution for everyone, even if it means making some concessions.

“There were only six women with science backgrounds in the entire event, and we were three of them,” Aufrecht said, suggesting the conference gave them a chance to practice “science diplomacy.”

“It was helpful for us to hear from attendees from other backgrounds, like political science, because it gave us a new perspective on the impact of policies and solutions,” she said.

The students praised the Public Leadership Education Network, which hosted the conference; the Bredesen Center for encouraging them to attend; and VolStarter, which allowed them to crowd fund the trip.

“The Bredesen Center is creating a new breed of scientist, one that bridges gaps in research, policy, and outcome,” said Ladd. “We need that now more than ever.”

Having experienced the conference, the students say they hope to see UT become a member school of the PLEN network, which would allow future students the opportunity to attend the conference at discounted rates.

Accolades: Notable Achievements for October 16, 2017

McCord Receives NSF EAGER Award

Rachel McCordRachel McCord is the principal investigator for a recently received NSF EAGER Award. The two year grant ($286,136 to UT) is a collaboration between UT, Rowan University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Virginia Tech, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and Purdue University. McCord is a research assistant professor and lecturer in Engineering Fundamentals. The award funds a proposal titled the Rising Engineering Education Faculty Experience (REEFE), a semester long, immersive program for future engineering education professionals (graduate students).

Read more about the NSF EAGER Award and REEFE

Reinbolt Elected Chair of Executive Board for International Society of Biomechanics

Dr. Jeffrey ReinboltAssociate Professor Jeff Reinbolt was recently elected Chair of the Executive Board for the International Society of Biomechanics Technical Group on Computer Simulation. The society, founded at Penn State in 1973, now has approximately 1,300 members internationally. The Technical Group on Computer Simulation is the group sharing a common interest in biomechanical computer simulations. It has roughly 200 members.

Reinbolt, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering, has also been appointed by the editor-in-chief to be an associate editor focusing on biomechanical modeling and computer simulation for the Journal of Applied Biomechanics, an official journal of the society. This journal disseminates studies on musculoskeletal or neuromuscular biomechanics in human movement, sport, and rehabilitation.

Read more about the International Society of Biomechanics

Blache Meets with P&G Leaders on RMC Practices

Klaus BlacheKlaus Blache met and worked with about 100 Proctor & Gamble global leaders on asset management and competitive practices in Geneva, Switzerland, from September 28 to October 24. Blache is the director of the college’s Reliability and Maintainability Center and a research professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

”It was a very productive interaction for all,” said Blache. “Networking and internal company workshops had representation from around the world. Over the weekend, I also had the opportunity to visit the United Nations Building and the Cern, Switzerland, Particle Collider.”


Engage Engineering Fundamentals Lecturer Spotlight: Amy Biegalski

Amy Biegalski with Her Daughters

Amy Biegalski—or “Dr. B,” as she is known to her students—came to UT because of her love of teaching and her love of the outdoors. She enjoys teaching Engineering Fundamentals (EF) classes at UT because of the “enthusiasm, energy, and dedication” of the students. According to Dr. B, EF is vitally important because it introduces students to real-world problem-solving, diverse perspectives, and team-based hands-on experiences. Her favorite students are those that ask thoughtful questions, feel confident enough to call her out on her mistakes, and stop to chat with her about their individual passions and pursuits.

We asked Dr. B a few specifics to help freshmen students get to know here a bit better:

Q: Where did you get your undergraduate degree?
A: I received my Civil/Structural Engineering degree from Ohio State University.

Q: How can students succeed in class and make their professors happy?
A: Make use of all available resources, show up, contribute to the discussions, complete assignments, and enjoy the challenge.

Q: What’s your biggest pet peeve of students?
A: Students who don’t show up for team meetings. Where is the love?

Q: How do you spend your free time?
A: Taking my two girls on adventures: exploring mountains and parks, hiking, biking, backpacking, skiing, and rock climbing.

This Q&A is the first in a series we’re rolling out to help our students get to know the Engineering Fundamentals staff in the college.

Learn more about the Engineering Fundamentals Program

Data, Take the Wheel

Connected and autonomous vehicles—driverless cars—are all the rage these days, from Austin to Boston and Detroit to Silicon Valley. Cities are vying to test the technology and stay on the cutting edge of transportation.

In downtown Knoxville near the UT campus, Mayor Madeline Rogero announced in spring 2017 that a self-driving electric trolley will be tested this year, and might be in service as a tourist shuttle as early as 2018.

The driverless revolution seems to be happening fast, but there are speedbumps yet to be crossed. Lawmakers are busy contemplating the types of new regulations that the technology will call for. The phenomenon could influence changes across the culture: new business models, roadway development, insurance policies, and jobs to name a few.

David Clarke, director of the UT’s Center for transportation Research, spoke on the topic earlier with year in a chat broadcast on “The Method,” a science-and-society series on WUOT FM, UT’s public radio station. He pointed out that, while it’s a hot topic in the media, highways full of automated cars are still largely on the drawing board.

“At some point, we may get to a place where autonomous vehicle operation is the norm,” said Clarke. “But I think it’s going to take a while for us to get there.”

There are many practical issues to consider in automating a task as complicated as driving.

“For example, you are approaching an intersection and a policeman is standing there directing traffic, and they are beckoning to you to come forth and make a turn, or slow down or speed up, or something like that,” explained Clarke. “How does a vehicle with technology, as we currently have on hand, have the same level of understanding?”

Autonomous operation in adverse weather is another concern, as is making the technology affordable. A variety of challenges face the driverless revolution, but vital issues motivate the research: improved mobility, energy efficiency, environmental concerns, and—most importantly—safety.

“By removing human drivers from the loop, driver error can be eliminated.” —Asad Khattak

“Their need comes from the huge costs of fatal and non-fatal crashes, where human driver error is the main contributing factor in about 93 percent of the crashes,” said Asad Khattak, Beaman Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Transportation Program Coordinator.

Khattak and fellow transportation engineers at UT are using a unique big-data approach to solving these issues, gathering information from connected and autonomous vehicles and investigating driver behavior. Modern sensors mounted on vehicles and the surrounding transportation infrastructure are used to collect crucial information. Sensor data are uploaded and stored by cities and state transportation agencies. In addition, the US Department of Transportation maintains the Research Data Exchange database, which stores information generated by field operational tests.

“The information often comes from a vehicle’s surroundings and it is processed quickly to take necessary driving actions—much faster than human drivers can,” said Khattak.

Khattak and colleagues have worked on an NSF-sponsored project titled “Driving Volatility in a Connected and Cooperative Vehicle Environment: Algorithms for Driver Warnings and Control Assists.” He is accompanied on the project by UT co-researcher Subhadeep Chakraboorty, an assistant professor in mechanical engineering.

“By using emerging high-resolution connected vehicle data from different nationwide test beds, we are exploring how to reduce driving volatility by generating appropriate driver warning messages,” said Khattak. “Also, using reinforcement learning, we are learning human drivers’ behavior and their preferences at a microscopic level. The outcome of this artificial intelligence research can be applied to facilitate the introduction of automated vehicles into the present transportation system.”

So, like any parent with a new driver in the family, transportation experts at UT are making sure autonomous cars know what they are doing before they let them hit the road.

West Tennessee Initiative Draws Future Engineers

Memphis Engineers Day

UT engineering students engage with high-school students from west Tennessee to share opportunities at the Tickle College of Engineering.

The Tickle College of Engineering (TCE) hosted a recruitment initiative in West Tennessee for the 2017 Engineers Day with support from Ron (BS/EE ’69) and Jessica (BS/Ed ’71) Morris. The event—the first UT Engineers Day held in Memphis—provided an opportunity for high juniors and seniors in the Memphis area to learn about the university, network with engineering undergraduate students, faculty, and staff and explore engineering career options.

Memphis Engineers Day

Engineering Ambassadors share information about the Tickle College of Engineering with high-school students at the 2017 Memphis Engineers Day.

The event drew 226 students and 30 chaperones from 22 high schools. Attendees were greeted by current engineering students at the University of Tennessee Health Science Campus in Memphis.

The welcome program featured a presentation on the engineering college by Lisa Byrd, assistant director of Engineering Advising. Engineering Professional Practice Ambassadors led panel discussion and Travis Griffin, Program Director from Engineering Diversity offered information on summer pre-college programs at the college.

Memphis Engineers Day introduced students to the TCE opportunities such as the Cook Grand Challenge Honors Program. Activities were designed by TCE departments and student societies, and presentations by the offices of Undergraduate Admissions, Financial Aid & Scholarships, and University Housing.

Read more about the West Tennessee Initiative

Faculty Receive National Science Foundation Grant for Software Research

Four faculty members from the Haslam College of Business and Tickle College of Engineering have received a National Science Foundation grant totaling $1.7 million. The grant funds a joint proposal for research done with Carnegie Mellon University.

Bogdan Bichescu, Randy Bradley, Audris Mockus, and Russell Zaretzki will all contribute to a project attempting to map the use of open source code throughout modern software. Open source code can be identified, used, and modified by anyone, as opposed to commercial software, which users cannot see or modify and must wait for creators to update.

“Open source software builds upon itself,” says Randy Bradley, an assistant professor of information systems and supply chain management. “There are multiple modules that combine to create powerful enterprise software and even much simpler programs such as your web browsers. The end product is usually a compilation of modules incorporated, adapted, or borrowed from other programs, which can result in a black box solution.”

These solutions are referred to as “black box” because developers are often unaware which open source elements are buried in the architecture of their software. Tracking the origins of the open code and what software it has now become part of can be extremely complex.

“Tracking the evolution of open source code is possible because both historical and ongoing developments are typically recorded in software repositories that allow any software developer to view, copy, and modify the code,” said Russell Zaretzki, the Joe Johnson Faculty Research Fellow and associate professor of business analytics and statistics.

UT plans to employ tracing methods used to study visibility and transparency in traditional supply chains. They believe it may be possible to identify and mitigate risks resulting from open source components, even with little to no knowledge of where those components originated.

“Supply chain models deal with similar issues to trace recalls,” says Bogdan Bichescu, an associate professor of business analytics and statistics. “A better understanding of the interweaving fabric of open source software development could have implications that ultimately lead to programs that are less vulnerable to disruptions.”

Bichescu, Bradley, Mockus, and Zaretzki note that the patterns uncovered when mapping open source software supply chains might also help improve visibility and reduce the risk of specific disruptions in traditional product- and service-based supply chains.

The project relies on publicly available data as well as snapshots of open source projects taken by Mockus over multiple years. The team will use advanced data analytics to find patterns among the developers, file structures, and changes to the code over time.

Business researchers rarely receive NSF grants. However, UT’s team was able to put together a successful proposal by combining their diverse expertise in the areas of supply chain management, business analytics, and open source software ecosystems.

The team received the grant in the fall of 2016 and anticipates the project will last at least four years.

Engineering Center Welcoming World to Seminar

The Center for Advanced Systems Research and Education at UT will host an international event on October 6 that aims to improve business practices around the world.

“Accelerating Operational Excellence” will examine topics related to production, technology, and culture, providing participants with real-world examples of where such ideas have succeeded.

The John D. Tickle Engineering Building will welcome up to 100 participants for the day’s events, with students, faculty, researchers, and industry professionals from South America, Asia, and Europe joining online.

“We’ll look at every operational phase, every aspect of production, and work through how they can improve their processes,” said Rupy Sawhney, the Heath Fellow in Business and Engineering and executive director of CASRE. “The idea is to establish UT and our state as a base of knowledge in this growing field, and then continue to grow the seminar until we’re a major player.”

Rupy Sawhney Works with Student in Classroom

Heath Fellow in Business and Engineering Rupy Sawhney, right, works with a student.

To further highlight the state’s role in various industries, speakers from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Blount County–based DENSO and ARCONIC (formerly Alcoa), and Nashville-based Ardent Healthcare will make presentations and lead discussions on how adopting a new approach to operations has helped their respective businesses.

In addition to those corporations, five other universities in Tennessee and the University of Kentucky have been contacted to take part in the events.

Sawhney said organizers want participants to come to the conference with one question in mind: What is your biggest problem, what are the barriers, and what is your strategy to overcome those?

Having a broad range of perspectives will help the event reach its full potential.

“Our goal is to build a program second to none,” said Sawhney. “To do that, we are focusing on a strategy built on the four pillars of research, collaboration, industry, and programs.”

He said the eventual goal is to continue the steady increase of participants, with an eye on making the seminar a multiple-day event.

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