Corn to Cement Research Could Impact Millions

Exciting research into turning corn husks into cement is being conducted by civil engineering Ph.D. student Mark Bediako, who recently received a competitive African research award, the Emerald African Engineering Research Fund Award and John Kevern, UMKC SCE associate professor of civil engineering. Cement is very both expensive and limited in Africa but corn is abundant, especially corn husks which are often burned as trash. Agricultural materials have been shipped from Ghana to Kansas City, where they will be tested for the optimum blend and durability in UMKC’s civil engineering and materials lab and at Ash Grove Cement Company, headquartered in Overland Park. The research could provide millions affordable, durable housing and increase commercial building. For more details, read the complete UMKC Today article, From Corn to Cement.

SCE Congratulates Prof Cory Beard and His Talented Family

Many at SCE have enjoyed watching A Day in the Office: A New Musical Parody written and directed by Ryan Beard, the son of Dr. Cory Beard, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. The musical is based off the hit TV show “The Office” and has been published to YouTube! Dr. Beard’s son Ryan starts off the musical and plays the irritating regional general manager, Michael Scott. Michael and his office mates welcome Susan, a new employee to the office which puts the wackiness of the office in full bloom as a talented group of teenagers light up the stage! The 2 hour show has all of the humor you can handle, plus amazing music and dancing. Dr. Beard’s wife, Michelle, served as the executive producer for the show, and Dr. Beard’s son Jonathan plays Mose, Dwight’s cousin. Congratulations to the Beard family and thanks for the sharing the fun with us!

Wells Fargo Invites EyeVerify to New Accelerator

UMKC Today reports that “Based on the work of Dr. Reza Derakhshani of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, EyeVerify, a smartphone-based personal identification system based on technology developed at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, is one of three start-ups invited to a new accelerator launched by Wells Fargo Bank.    EyeVerify, based in Kansas City’s Startup Village, was named winner of the Get In the Ring global investment competition last year. Looking beyond the three initial “beta” participants in the accelerator, Wells Fargo intends to work with 10 to 20 startups in each six-month batch. An executive from the bank sponsors and works closely with each participating startup. Wells Fargo invests between $50,000 and $500,000 in each one.  More information about the Wells Fargo Tech Accelerator and EyeVerify can be found here.

Big Beam Team Places in Top 5 Nationally

The Official Results are in!  Our Big Beam team placed 5th at the 2014 National Big Beam Contest and 1st at the Zone 3 (Midwest Region) Big Beam Contest.   The contest is sponsored by PCI (Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute) and attracted many contenders.  Teams adhered to a strict set of rules to build an 18 foot long precast-prestressed concrete beam which was then tested as a 16 foot span.

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Free Enterprise Center at UMKC Gathers Momentum

UMKC Vice Provost & Dean of the School of Computing and Engineering Kevin Truman continues to work toward the day when UMKC becomes home to the Free Enterprise Center. In the  July 23, 2014 Kansas City Business Journal article, UMKC enterprise center nabs funds for KC entrepreneurs,  he described why various constituents have currently pledged over $7.4 million, about ½ of the center’s estimated cost.  “It will be a fantastic entrepreneurial resource for the community,” Truman said. “Even though the center is proposed to be on the UMKC campus, it will handle budding entrepreneurs all the way through the industries here in town and be a resource for our students.  It’s a one-stop shop with equipment to build prototypes and explore ideas.”   The Free Enterprise Center will include laboratory space, rapid prototyping equipment, digital virtualization/visualization equipment and educational/collaborative space.  Business and technology transfer advisors will be available to serve the students, faculty, researchers, local industries, entrepreneurs, artists, and K-12 students that will utilize the center.

UM FastTrack Grant Awarded to Professors Hart & Kevern

In early Spring 2014 a provisional patent was filed by UMKC based on civil engineering Associate Professor John Kevern and Assistant Professor Megan Hart’s research on using actively enhanced pervious concrete (AEPC) as a permeable reactive barrier (PRB) for polluted groundwater treatment.  The University of Missouri FastTrack program has recently confirmed funding research by co-PIs Dr. John Kevern and Dr. Megan Hartto turn this research into a licensable technology.  Groundwater is the water source for approximately 50% of the world’s population, and approximately 30% of groundwater is estimated to be contaminated, requiring an actionable technology for remediation.

The project, Enhanced Pervious Concrete as a Permeable Reactive Barrier Technology, is divided into five tasks which will be performed over the course of one year from June 1, 2014 to May 31, 2015.  These tasks will provide the researchers the data and information needed to assemble a prospectus report suitable for dissemination to interested parties. This technology has the potential to replace or supplement the commercial applications of zero valent iron or comparable technology which treats on average 25-50% contaminated groundwater and it will be far less expensive than current techniques.

Our congratulations to Drs. Hart and Kevern!  We look forward to learning more about the results of their research and the commercialization of this technology.

Vijay Kumar Receives Curators’ Professorship

Vijay Kumar, Professor of Computer Science, has received a Curators’ Professorship effective this Fall 2014.  As stated on the awards webpage, “It is the highest and most prestigious academic rank awarded by the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri.  It is awarded to a select few outstanding scholars with established reputations.”    Dr. Kumar is a nationally and internationally-known scholar, specializing in information security, wireless and mobile computing and database systems research with particular emphasis related to cyber security and wireless data dissemination.

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