IBM Sponsoring Dr. Praveen Rao at Innovate 2012 Conference

IBM has identified Dr. Praveen Rao, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, as a key faculty representative and will sponsor his attendance at the IBM Innovate 2012 Conference June 3rd – June 7th in Orlando, Florida. According to IBM, Dr. Rao was chosen due to “The work you have done leveraging multiple advanced technology resources in the classroom”. Dr. Rao will be a speaker at this conference.

Dr. Rao is providing his students valuable experience in developing applications by leveraging software tools available on the IBM Cloud, a platform which is used by many companies, both large and small. IBM’s support of Dr. Rao is greatly appreciated by our School and we heartily agree with IBM’s enthusiastic commendation to Dr. Rao, “Congratulations to you for setting the bar high and investing in your students by bringing advanced technology tools to them. Because of your investment in your students this is our way to continue investing in you and the University of Missouri Kansas City!”

CE student Ryan Holmes to present ASME research poster in Puerto Rico

Civil engineering junior, Ryan Holmes, has been selected to present a research poster presentation (he is listed as the first author) at the ASME SBC (American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Summer Bioengineering Conference) in Fajardo, Puerto Rico on June 21st. Ryan became involved in the research effort about a year ago when he was invited to help with the testing of some developmental materials, after he finished a dynamics class with Dr. Jennifer Melander. Ryan observed, “The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn and further my understanding of chemistry, mixture design, material testing, and research in general. Dr. Melander describes this thirst for knowledge as the “thinking bug,” and I agree, though I hope to never find a cure!” Ryan now describes himself as a “civil engineering student, with an emphasis in being the most eclectic engineer.”

The name of his research project is “Polymerization Stress and the Influence of TOSU Addends on Methacrylate Composites.” His research efforts included testing and characterizing properties of dental resin mixtures (used for cavity fillings and tooth substitute, can be thought of as a “glue”) by examining their mechanical properties (flexural/compressive/tensile strength and modulus), determining their handling properties (exothermicity, viscosity, and cure time) and their chemical properties (FTIR spectra, polymerization stress, degree of polymerization). Analysis of the data required the use of MS Excel and statistical (ANOVA) software.

The research involved the collaboration of University of Missouri faculty researchers Dr. Jennifer Melander, Dr. Kathleen V. Kilway, Dr. Thomas P. Schuman and Dr. J. David Eick and UMKC student researchers Ryan Holmes, Bradley D. Miller and Rachel A. Weiler from different academic disciplines – chemistry, dentistry, and engineering. Ryan notes that “by studying polymers that reduce polymerization stress, we can provide better tooth fillings and glues. More importantly, it gives us insight as to how the polymer interacts with other additives. In other words, how do the molecules come together and build on each other when other building blocks are present? This might answer questions like, ‘does this molecule make the system stronger?’ The stress created by the glue as it hardens is thought to be a negative quality of almost all dental glues, since it reduces the glue’s ability to remain connected to tooth or implant. So by reducing the stress/shrinkage of the polymer (glue), stronger and more durable materials can be made.”

Ryan will continue his studies as a graduate student and doctoral student once he earns his B.S. of Civil Engineering.

National Society of Black Engineer (NSBE) Minority Engineering Night at SCE

Thirty minority high students and their guests attended a dinner presentation and tour at the School of Computing and Engineering (SCE) on May 8, 2012. The first annual National Society of Black Engineer (NSBE) Minority Engineering Night was hosted by SCE Dean Kevin Z. Truman, the KC Stem Alliance and the UMKC NSBE student chapter. NSBE officers – Innocent Awasom-Nsoh, 2012-2013 Senator; Tim Gitau, Past PCI Chair; Kingsley Kantanka, Past President; Cece Lamah, 2012-2013 co-PCI Chair; Justin Polson, 2012-2013 Program Chair; DeJon Slaughter, 2012-2013 President; and George White, 2012-2013 Vice President – were on hand to greet students and talk with them about choosing engineering as a career.

The event provided participants an opportunity to engage with and learn from successful minority engineering professionals and leaders. Guest speakers included Joe Davis, CEO of Custom Engineering; Tiffany Wheeler, Civil Engineer at Kansas City Power & Light; and Leo E. Morton, Chancellor of the University of Missouri Kansas City. All have engineering degrees! Kansas City school districts represented by student attendees included Center, Hickman Mills and Kansas City, KS. The Frontier School of Excellence won the prize for participation with 12 Frontier students and their guests attending. SCE looks forward to hosting the second annual NSBE Minority Engineering Night in 2013.

IEEE Robotics Team Competes in Tulsa, OK

Fourteen student members and three advisors from the UMKC IEEE Robotics Team travelled to Tulsa, Oklahoma on April 19th for the annual Region 5 IEEE Robotics Competition. Two robots were entered the competition from UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering, but only one robot was checked-in to compete because of a motor malfunction. Due to a miscommunication, the second robot was placed by a judge instead of a team member (as has been the rule for the past seven years) on the track in a different location than anticipated causing the robot to miss the first targeted energy source. Clement Lumanyika and Andrew Gatrost entered the Circuit Design Competition and came in fourth place. Two Robot Team alumni came to the competition to show their support and various others were watching on UTube. Unfortunately team members Mell Carter and Blake Huntington were not able to attend the competition.

Congratulations to the UMKC IEEE Robotics Team members Scot Banes, Andrew Blackton, Mell Carter, Lisa Chen, Oliver Craig, Tim Gitau, Blake Huntington, Aaron Hurst, Clement Lumanyika, Matt Mohler, Ariel Muthyala, Eddie Pogosov, Victor Skulavik, Jordie Smith, Sarah Withee, Vicky Wu and the IEEE Robotics Team advisors Eddie Burris, Reza Derakhshani and Debby Dilks.

SAME Student Chapter Receives Plaque Commemorating Its Formation

On May 9th Colonel Anthony Hofmann, Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) Greater Kansas City Post President and District Commander United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Kansas City District, presented to Kevin Truman, Dean of the School of Computing and Engineering, a plaque commemorating the formation of the UMKC SAME Student Chapter in 2009. Dean Truman is the faculty advisor for the chapter.

Civil Engineering Students Win Awards at ACI Missouri Concrete conference

Our American Concrete Institute (ACI) student chapter brought home top awards from the ACI Missouri Concrete Conference held on April 26, 2012 at MS&T in Rolla. The conference featured two student competitions organized by construction industry professionals attending the conference. Civil Engineering (CE) senior Kevin Buck won 1st place in the undergraduate poster competition and Master’s CE student Gunjan Sheye won 3rd place in the graduate poster competition. It was clear that team work pays off when CE senior Andrew O’Laughlin and Gunjan Shetye won 1st place for best artistic concrete. The winners were awarded cash prizes sponsored by the ACI Missouri chapter. Completing its first year as a student organization, our UMKC ACI student chapter can take pride in its achievements. CE faculty Ceki Halmen, John Kevern and Ganesh Thiagarajan are ACI student chapter faculty advisors.

Brian Hare & Jerry Richardson are 2012 SCE Good Teaching Award Recipients!

Two SCE faculty members were honored with 2012 Good Teaching Awards at the SCE Spring Awards Ceremony on April 26, 2012. They are Brian Hare, Assistant Teaching Professor in the Computer Science Electrical Engineering (CSEE) Department, and Dr. Jerry Richardson, Associate Professor in the Civil and Mechanical Engineering (CME) Department. Each year two faculty from SCE, one from CME and one from CSEE, are selected for a Good Teaching Award by the School’s graduating seniors.

The awards are well deserved. The CSEE Department Chair advised, “Brian Hare often receives comments from students like, ‘the best teacher I have taken a class from at UMKC,’ ‘excellent instructor’ and ‘my favorite teacher at UMKC.’ Brian’s devotion to his profession is highly commendable. He is very deserving of the CSEE Good Teaching Award.” According to the CME department chair, “Dr. Richardson has a true passion for teaching. His teaching ability and dedication are well known and have been highly respected throughout his career at UMKC.” This is the 3rd time since the establishment in 1993 of the Engineering Good Teaching award that Dr. Richardson has won the award!

SCE gratefully acknowledges the SCE Alumni Association Board for their support of the Good Teaching Awards. The SCE AA Board established an endowed fund to support the Engineering Good Teaching award and works each year with the dean to review the SCE students’ nominations and ratify recipients.

Outstanding Students & Teams honored at SCE’s Spring Awards

SCE honored our outstanding students and student teams at the UMKC SCE Spring Awards Reception held on April 26, 2012. Outstanding student awards were announced for a junior, senior, masters and I.Ph.D student in each of SCE’s degree programs. Outstanding students are selected by their department’s faculty. Selection is based on GPA and the student’s contributions in terms of participation and leadership in SCE student organizations and teams. Student competition teams receiving awards included the ASCE Steel Bridge Team who earned first place at the 2012 regional competition, the ACM Programming Team who won 3rd place at the 2012 Central Plains Conference Programming Competition, the IEEE Robotics Team who won 4th place in circuit design at their regional competition and the SAE Baja Buggy Team who qualified for the next competition level. Congratulations to the all our Spring Award recipients!

Also honored were Good Teaching Award Recipients Jerry Richardson of SCE’s Civil and Mechanical Engineering Department and Brian Hare of SCE’s Computer Science Electrical Engineering Department for their excellence in teaching.

Yanan Ma is the Wu Scholarship Recipient

Civil Engineering master’s student Yanan Ma has been awarded the 2012-2013 Wu Scholarship, a competitive $1000 scholarship administered by UMKC’s Center for International Academic Programs. One year the Wu Scholarship is awarded for a Chinese student to study here, the next year for an American student to study in China. The scholarship committee was particularly impressed with Yanan’s passion and clear vision for the future. Congratulations Yanan! Yanan’s research is focused on Water Resources and she is a research assistant on the Kansas City Rain Garden Project in which her advisor Dr. Deb O’Bannon is involved. Yanan is contributing to the project currently by collecting and analyzing water quantity data from rain gardens. Later, she will analyze the water quality as well. She intends to return to China to help her country with its urban flooding problems.

Regarding the significance of the rain garden project and her research Yanan advised, “Last year, many big cities in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Wuhan, etc.) suffered from urban floods and it caused a lot of economic lost for the society. What we are doing now in China is to build one pipe only for rain underground which costs a lot of money and a lot of time. The rain garden project has its own advantages on solving urban flood problems, for example it is cheaper, easy to install and repair and so on. So that is why I am so sure the rain garden project can be introduced into our China to help us solve this problem in the future. I know it will be difficult; however I am sure I can find people who are interested in this project and can help me with it. You will never know what you can do until you try, that is what I always believe.”