Clarkson University Magazine: Education Updates

mat_science1New Materials Science and Engineering Ph.D. program

For more than 50 years, Clarkson has been recognized as a leader in materials and materials processing — from the pioneering colloid and fine particle synthesis research of the 1950s and 1960s and the formal establishment of the Center for Advanced Materials Processing (CAMP) in 1987, to today’s embrace of the newest materials and technologies, including photovoltaic solar cells, “smart” materials and biosensors.

Building on its international reputation in this area, Clarkson has launched an interdisciplinary Materials Science and Engineering Ph.D. program. The program draws on the expertise of more than 30 faculty from across the University.

Among the strengths of the program is its close association with CAMP, which partners with both corporate and government sponsors to perform innovative research, and conducts educational efforts on the synthesis and processing of advanced materials of interest to industry.

Areas of specialization among materials faculty at Clarkson and topics covered in the Materials Science and Engineering Ph.D. program are:
• Advanced Materials for Alternative Energy
• Biomaterials
• Colloid Science and Technology
• Polymer Science and Engineering
• Materials Processing for Microelectronic Devices
• Computation and Simulation of Advanced Materials
• Materials of Construction
• Electrochemistry and Electrochemical Engineering

Interdisciplinary Program in Riparian Systems Management

Clarkson has launched an innovative new research and education program focused on the dynamics, form and structure of streams, thanks to a generous gift from a Class of 1959 graduate.

The Lauren Davis ‘59 Interdisciplinary Program in Riparian Systems Management will build on the current strength of water resources engineering at Clarkson.

The field of stream and riparian management is emerging as an important contributor to stream ecosystems. The program capitalizes on Clarkson’s current capabilities to take a leadership position in stream and riparian management education and research.

The long-term goal of the program is to be involved in the full cycle of lab research, field-testing, project design, project monitoring and continuous feedback, which will facilitate advancement of the field of study.

The University also plans a senior design course and a SPEED team focused on this topic. Field, laboratory, and computer modeling work will be included in the course.

“The program will help water resources engineering research at Clarkson to build and improve the understanding of stream flow functions and their impacts,” says associate dean of engineering for research and graduate studies Hung Tao Shen. “It will allow undergraduate and graduate students at Clarkson to broaden their knowledge of stream dynamics and develop their ability to better manage stream systems.”

snowmobile3SPEED Teams Race to the Top

Clarkson’s award-winning SPEED program is one of the Coulter School of Engineering’s hallmark initiatives.

With 15 design and build projects to choose from, the program promotes multidisciplinary, project-based learning opportunities for more than 350 undergraduates annually.

Many of the SPEED project opportunities stem from national engineering design competitions, like FIRST Robotics and the Clean Snowmobile Challenge. Industrial giants Alcoa, Corning, General Electric and Procter & Gamble are all proud sponsors of SPEED.

Clarkson Students Make History at EPA Awards

p3Two Clarkson student teams recently used Clarkson’s cold weather climate to their advantage — in projects to win awards from the Environmental Protection Agency for environmental innovation at the Annual National Sustainable Design Expo.

The teams’ wins made Clarkson the first school ever to win two awards in one year.
Proving that they developed sustainable projects that help protect the environment, encourage economic growth and efficiently use natural resources, both teams were awarded the People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Awards for sustainability.

The first team presented “Farm Waste to Energy: A Sustainable Solution for Small-Scale Farms,” which involved developing and optimizing viable anaerobic digester technology for dairy farms in cold climates with fewer than 50 cows. The team was advised by professors Stefan Grimberg, Shane Rogers and Rick Welsh and also earned the P3 Student Choice Award.

The second team presented “Sustainable Year-Round Food Production in Cold Climates.” The students, advised by Prof. Susan Powers, worked on the design, feasibility, analysis and impact assessment of a pilot scale, controlled environment high-rise farm.

Clarkson Claims Top Spot in the SAE National Challenge 2012

For the second year in a row, Clarkson captured first place in the national SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge held at Michigan Tech.

The team also claimed several special awards, including the Polaris Industries Award for Best Handling, the PCB Group Award for Quietest Snowmobile and the DENSO Corporation Award for Best Ride. It also received the Emitec Award for Best Value, which recognizes the best balance between cost, fuel economy and performance; and the BlueRibbon Coalition Award for Most Practical Solution for the best balance between cost and noise and emissions reduction.

The team utilized a 2011 Ski Doo MXZ Sport 600ACE with a closed-loop fuel system able to run on flex fuels ranging from E0 to E40 with the addition of a custom prototype Power Commander electronic control unit.

SPEED International Exchange. Kyushu University in Japan sent a group of students to Clarkson in January of this year to observe and participate in FIRST Robotics activities. Kyushu then provided partial scholarships for Clarkson FIRST Robotics students to travel to Japan and compete in a Micro-Mechanisms Contest in March against other international universities.

ChemE Car Takes Third Place

chem_e_carThe ChemE Car team claimed third place at the northeast regional American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) conference at the University of Rhode Island.

For the competition, cars had to travel 51 feet with a load of 400 grams.

Clarkson’s team used aluminum-air fuel cells to power the car, and the iodine clock reaction to stop the car. The fuel cells operated by using activated carbon to catalyze the reduction of oxygen in the air into hydroxide ions, which then traveled through an electrolyte membrane to an aluminum anode which is oxidized, producing a potential difference.

The iodine clock reaction is a common timing mechanism in which a solution turns dark after a period of time, which is dependent on the concentration of a number of chemicals. The team used the reaction to block light to a photo resistor, cutting the power to the motor.

Endowment for Sustainable Energy Research

The National Grid Endowed Fund for Student Research Opportunities in Sustainable Energy at Clarkson is a new $350,000 fund developed by National Grid to annually fund up to five summer research opportunities for Honors Program students studying sustainable energy.

Student research areas include power systems, energy education, energy efficiency, energy harvesting and storage, bioenergy, fuel cells and hydrogen fuel, solar energy
systems and wind energy.

An Integrated Food-waste-energy System

A new pilot-scale Controlled Environment High Rise Farm (CEHRF) system on campus is enabling faculty and students to research and explore new technologies for integrating food production and energy recovery from waste.

green_house2A three-year research project developed by Clarkson students has culminated in the construction and implementation of a pilot-scale greenhouse on Clarkson’s campus that utilizes innovative energy-efficient technologies for the year-round production of leafy green vegetables. 

The 650 sq. ft. greenhouse is designed to grow produce in northern climates limited by cold and dark winters, while its internal heating, lighting, and water and plant growth systems are designed to maximize plant growth while limiting fossil fuel energy inputs.

“This pilot-scale system is a prototype for controlled environment high-rise farming (CEHRF), which promotes the production of produce in cold climates and urban settings thereby reducing the energy we currently consume shipping produce around the world,” says Susan Powers, Spence Professor of Sustainable Environmental Systems and associate director for sustainability at the ISE.

The interdisciplinary project was originally conceived by Clarkson physics student Daegan Gonyer ’09, now a graduate student in engineering science. Student teams raised Phase I and Phase II funding for the project in 2009 and 2010 from the EPA under a People, Prosperity and the Planet: Student Design Competition for Sustainability (P3). They also conducted laboratory and feasibility studies and supervised the design of the greenhouse and its systems. [See related story, p.15.]

The CEHRF system uses a biomass-solar thermal heating system and an anaerobic digester for cafeteria waste to create an energy efficient and zero-waste system that contributes to Clarkson’s sustainability efforts.

The integrated food-waste-energy system provides ample opportunities for project-based and hands-on learning, as well as research experiences for students. A grant from the Dominion Foundation will help with data collection from this integrated system for use in classroom activities.

Clean Water a Half a World Away

Over the last four years, Clarkson students have worked with residents of a South American village to design and develop a water treatment system to remove pollutants from drinking water.

ewbClarkson’s collegiate chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is engaged in a multi-year project to provide clean drinking water to residents of La Margarita, a small village of 320 people in Ecuador.

Led by Civil & Environmental Engineering Prof. Shane Rogers, EWB students have developed and designed a water treatment plant for this rural community in need of clean drinking water solutions. Currently, the residents drink water straight out of the Los Tintos River; however, all of the community’s waste and sewerage also goes into the river.

In August 2008, team members made the first of two trips to Ecuador to make assessments of the village and form relationships with the townspeople. They tested for pesticides, herbicides, bacteria and other pollutants in the river water, ground water and irrigation canals, as well as from drinking water stored in residents’ homes. They also conducted public health, land and structural surveys of all 75 homes in the community.

In fall 2009, Clarkson’s EWB partnered with undergraduate engineers in the classroom. Students in Professor Susan Powers’ Civil Engineering 212 course spent time researching easy-to-use solutions, such as filtration systems, to provide rapid access to clean drinking water in each home. Teams presented their solutions to the EWB design team during the semester and a team member brought the best designs to La Margarita over winter break. After reviewing some of the designs and systems, the townspeople decided to adopt a clay pot filtration system.

Clarkson’s EWB began to work on designing the filtration system and constructing a prototype for the clay pot. Team members then headed back to Ecuador to work with a local company to manufacture the clay pots and to educate the townspeople on how it works. The group hopes to use the final design in other towns and eventually do more humanitarian work in La Margarita focusing on wastewater issues.

The cost of the new water filtration system and additional travel were partially aided by a $5,000 travel grant from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund through EWB-USA.

Student Environmental Design Team Wins Highest Award at International Design Competition

In February, the Clarkson Environmental Design Team won the highest award in the 2012 International Capstone Design Contest on Renewable Energy Technology (CORE2012) at Mokpo, South Korea.

koreaThe competition is sponsored by Mokpo National University and the Offshore Wind Energy Center, both of South Korea.

At the competition 43 Korean national and 13 international teams competed for awards in both the national and the international categories. The international teams came from Australia, China, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.

The Clarkson design team shared the first-place platinum award in the international division for its work on the role of renewable energy in an integrated food and waste management system.

Mohammed Noori, dean of the College of Engineering at California Polytechnic State University and a member of the Coulter School of Engineering’s Dean Leadership Council, was instrumental in getting the Clarkson team invited to the prestigious competition.

Off-campus Ph.D. Programs for Professionals

Clarkson is now offering off-campus Ph.D. programs for professionals interested in completing a doctoral degree.

Programs include electrical and computer engineering, computer science, and engineering science. As doctoral candidates in this program, students live and work where they choose and course content is available through high-quality online resources and direct contact to faculty members.

Students can focus their research in one of several concentrations, including cyber security, information assurance, power and RF signal processing. All off-campus Ph.D. programs require a minimum of 90 credit hours and culminate with a written dissertation defended orally as part of the final examination.

New Minor in Sustainable Energy Systems Engineering

Engineers are among the many types of professionals that need to understand the limits of our present energy systems and lead us to a future in which we can continue to provide reasonable energy resources for human quality of life. A new minor in Sustainable Energy Systems Engineering emphasizes the need to develop and assess technologies to increase the efficiency of energy use and advance renewable and alternative energy sources.

NSF-Sponsored Summer Research Programs

Clarkson administers two undergraduate summer programs funded by the National Science Foundation through their Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program and International Research Experiences for Students (IRES).

ASSETs to Serve Humanity

Advancing Sustainable Systems and Environmental Technologies to Serve Humanity (ASSETs to Serve Humanity) is a 10-week REU program designed to engage undergraduate students in first-class research projects within the area of sustainable management to understand the role of environmental science and engineering in managing pollutants in natural systems.

Among the research topics for 2012:  the fate and transport of emerging contaminants; energy efficiency and indoor air quality; and biosensors for monitoring fermentation processes in the production of bio-ethanol from cellulosic biomass.

Advanced Materials for Sustainable Development

nsf_chinaAdvanced Materials for Sustainable Development is a 10-week IRES program that provides students with an international research experience in China focusing on advanced materials. Last summer, six undergraduates from six different universities spent nine weeks conducting research at Nanjing University, the Physics Institute of the Chinese Academy, and Tsinghua University. Working under the supervision of Chinese faculty mentors and graduate students, the students learned how to work and live in a country with a very different culture and history, and to conduct research in an international environment.

The program is sponsored by the NSF and co-sponsored by Corning, Inc. and Clarkson’s Center for Advanced Materials Processing (CAMP). It is organized by Clarkson Professors Hayley Shen and Yongming Liu (both of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering) and Distinguished University Professor and CAMP Director S.V. Babu. 

Following a two-day orientation at Clarkson and a three-day post program at Corning, the students spent nine weeks conducting research in materials science related to renewable energy technology. The post program included a one-day visit to Corning, where the students presented their work and discussed international R&D with the engineers.