UMKC Steel Roos Compete At 2016 ASCE/AISC Student Steel Bridge Competition

Our UMKC Steel Roos are back home from the Mid-Continent Conference 2016 ASCE/AISC Student Steel Bridge Competition hosted by Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, MO April 21-23, 2016.  Competition was fierce and the competition rules made if difficult to build a light, strong, fast bridge, which could withstand the complicated loading. Because of this a high number of bridges were disqualified during the construction and lateral testing.  Dr. Jerry Richardson, faculty co-advisor to the team reported in regard to loading, “with about half the weight on the bridge (see picture) the bridge started deforming laterally, (even though vertically there was hardly any deflection).  The lateral deflection exceeded maximum and the bridge was disqualified.”  A big blow to being able to place in the competition but not to the team’s spirit.


Says Dr. Richardson, “The UMKC team had effectively executed a unique construction plan in less than 23 minutes with 5 builders. This was much better than most all the schools competing this year. With time penalties for dropped bolts the adjusted construction time was 29 min-16 seconds.   The net weight of the bridge was an impressive 212 lbs, however there were some minor geometric infractions that added 100 lbs to the total weight of the bridge and the bridge performed flawlessly on lateral deflection. All in all our team did very well. Many of the bridges were disqualified before loading, and one school’s bridge actually collapsed during loading.”  The UMKC Steel Bridge team faculty co-advisors are Dr. John Kevern and Dr. Jerry Richardson.


In the team photo from left to right standing are Jose Romo, Jacob Asgian, Joshua Oathout, James Cobb, Andrew Ramsey, Jonathan Cooksey, Spencer Sinkhorn and Paige Norris.  In the bridge is Katie Gonzagowski and Bryce Coulter. Reclining is Evan Johns.  Team member Jacob Muller not shown.


Competition Recap:

This year a total of 14 teams participated, results are not yet posted but we do know that UMKC did not place this year.   

Mid- Continent Engineering schools

University of Kansas

Southern Illinois University –Edwardsville

Southern Illinois University – Carbondale

University of Nebraska Lincoln

University of Missouri Columbia

University of Missouri Kansas City

Oklahoma State

University of Oklahoma

University of Nebraska Omaha

University of Arkansas

Kansas State

Technology Schools:

Missouri State

Oklahoma State University Industrial Technology

Invited not conference guest: Vanderbilt


UMKC Robotics Team Earns Silver and Bronze Awards at Honda’s National Robotics Challenge!

On Wednesday, April 6th, the UMKC Robotics Team left for Honda’s National Robotics Challenge in Marion, Ohio where they competed with 65 teams, 144 robots and 1100 students. This competition has been held in Marion since 1986 and is very well established.  Teams could choose which competitions in which they wanted to participate.  These included the Robot Maze, Mini-SUMO, Robo Hockey, Combat Robot, SUMO, Internet of Things, Bot Ball, Rescue Robot and Autonomous Vehicle Challenge.  Our UMKC Robotics Team participated in the Mini-SUMO and the Autonomous Vehicle Challenge. In the mini-SUMO one robot was to push the other robot out of the ring and our robot was programmed to find any moving object within a foot and attack.  The team received the Bronze Award in this competition.

The other robot competition we entered was the Autonomous Vehicle Challenge where the robot was to go around a square course, which was outside in the elements, and then go through the hoop and we could end by jumping the ramp.  The team planned to make this final effort in the third round only if necessary since it would destroy the robot.  Fortunately the team had already secured the Silver award so why destroy it?

During the trip the team encountered heavy rains when they arrived Thursday, April 7, at 5:30 a.m. On Friday they encountered sleet and snow when running the autonomous vehicle giving them a whole new experience.  On Saturday after the awards ceremony the team headed out in a blizzard that followed them for about 20 or 30 miles outside of Marion, Ohio.  Everyone was glad to get back to Kansas City’s spring time weather.

Robot Team members were: Kristen Bilgere, Edwin Amilasan, Darren Cogan, Chris Denniston, Gretchen Gilbreath, Jack Goza, Kyle Hejtmanek, Josh Herndon, Matt Jones, Jedrzej Kosinski, Thai Lang, Connor Murphy, Calvin Seever and Katie Struthers. Debby Dilks, Advisor also travelled with the team.

SCE Spring Picnic Provides Students Time to Grill and Chill

SCE students streamed out by the hundreds to the QUAD on April 28 to enjoy the spring weather and a fabulous picnic sponsored by our UMKC SCE Student Council in partnership with the UMKC College of Arts & Sciences Student Council.  This is the first year a joint picnic was planned so that all of the students on the QUAD could participate.  The spring picnic for all SCE students, faculty and staff has been an SCE tradition since our School was formed. Thank you SCE Student Council officers (President Jonathan Kim, Executive Vice President Jordan Kottwitz, Comptroller Dakota McGilton, Vice President of Administration Zach Lemunyon, Social Media Chair Jordan Kottwitz, SAFC Rep  Brian Curley and Freshmen Liaison Jade Sissel) for a great time!  We all appreciate your work to represent SCE students and to plan school-wide activities for us.

SCE Spring Awards Ceremony Recognizes Student Excellence, Involvement and Leadership

SCE celebrated and recognized our students’ excellence, involvement and leadership at the April 21, 2016 SCE Spring Awards ceremony held in UMKC’s Pierson Auditorium.  SCE student competition teams, student organizations, student ambassadors and our outstanding students (junior, senior, masters, IPh.D students in each discipline) as determined by the faculty in the students’ discipline were honored and received award certificates during the ceremony.  Annually, SCE proudly acknowledges the leadership, involvement, dedication and hard work required to successfully implement the goals and objectives these outstanding computer science, engineering and information technology students have accomplished academically or within our student organizations and competition teams. Parents and guests joined SCE’s dean, faculty and staff in celebrating their excellence, commitment and drive.  We send to all involved our heartiest congratulations!

Katherine Bloemker and Kevin Kirkpatrick Are 2016 SCE Good Teaching Award Recipients

Katherine Bloemker, Associate Teaching Professor in CME, and Kevin Kirkpatrick, Associate Teaching Professor in CSEE, were presented with 2016 SCE Good Teaching Awards.  Annually, the UMKC SCE Good Teaching Award is given to two SCE faculty, one from our Civil and Mechanical Engineering (CME) department and one from our Computer Science Electrical Engineering (CSEE) department.  Selected by a vote of the graduating SCE seniors, this award truly reflects SCE students’ appreciation and regard. Faculty receiving this award are recognized for their exceptional teaching, leadership and mentoring.

The awards were announced in front of their students and peers at the April 22, 2016 Spring Awards Ceremony and Reception held in Pierson Auditorium in the Atterbury Student Success Center.  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.

Dr. Cory Beard Earns UMKC Highest Honor 2016 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring

On April 26, 2016 Dr. Cory Beard will receive the 2016 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring.  The award recognizes Dr. Beard’s outstanding service throughout his professional career in “mentoring or advising graduate students through matriculation of a master’s or doctoral degree by helping them formulate and achieve intellectual, career and personal goals.” It is considered “UMKC’s highest honor to a University employee with a long-established career at the University who has made significant contributions to higher education through exceptional mentoring of graduate students.” All of SCE knows firsthand how much Dr. Beard deserves this award.  Congratulations Dr. Beard!

Professors Reza Derakhshani and John Kevern Receive LEAP Awards

Professors Reza Derakhshani and John Kevern received Leadership Excellence Achievement Program (LEAP) recognition awards at the joint meeting of MSPE Western Chapter, Society of American Military Engineers, and KSPE Eastern Chapter on April 21.   The faculty LEAP Award is sponsored by the MSPE WC.  Nominations are solicited from the UMKC MSPE Student Chapter via secret ballot and ratified by the dean.  MSPE Student Chapter members are asked to nominate the professor they believe “has demonstrated mentoring abilities that encourage students to seek leadership excellence in the engineering profession”.  As the announcement of the 2015 faculty LEAP award winner was delayed due to travel schedules both the 2015 and 2016 LEAP award winners received their awards along with an award check and the faculty name placed on the LEAP Faculty Award Plaque in room 557 Flarsheim Hall.  Since 2005, the MSPE WC has been proud to present the faculty LEAP award to SCE’s outstanding faculty.

The 2015 faculty LEAP award winner is Dr. Reza Derakhshani, a professor in the SCE Department of Computer Science Electrical Engineering.  He is well-known for involving his students in meaningful research and as being an extremely effective teacher in the school’s electrical computer engineering program.  His research developed ground-breaking patented biometric technology which has fueled a hugely successful start-up, EyeVerify, whose growth has been explosive.  His research focus is Computational Intelligence with applications in Biomedical Signal and Image Processing and Biometrics.  The students he mentors are very sought after by employers as they have excellent technical knowledge combined with valuable team and leadership skills.    Congratulations, Dr. Derakhshani!


The 2016 faculty LEAP award winner is Dr. John Kevern.  Professor Kevern is an outstanding teacher and researcher within the school’s Civil and Mechanical Engineering Department and is a P.E.   His students have many avenues to develop their professional knowledge and leadership skills.  They are involved in American Concrete Institute competitions, ASCE student chapter activities including Steel Bridge Team and in research directed by Professor Kevern.  Some of his current research topics include novel techniques to improve pervious concrete durability, improving water quality using permeable reactive concrete, internal curing using waste materials, incorporation of industrial by-products in cement and concrete, techniques to reduce cost and improve performance of soil structures in sub-Saharan Africa, and eliminating joints in concrete pavements. Congratulations, Dr. Kevern!

Praveen Rao Selected for UMKC Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Researchers, Scholars, and Artists

All in SCE extend congratulations to Dr. Praveen Rao, Associate Professor of Computer Science.  He has been selected as one of three inaugural recipients of UMKC’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Researchers, Scholars, and Artists.  The award recognizes Dr. Rao’s long-standing commitment to mentoring undergraduate students, his pedagogical creativity and his dedication to teaching and mentoring.

At the awards ceremony on Thursday, April 21, 2016 in Pierson Auditorium. Dr. Rao was featured, along with the other faculty recipients, on the new UMKC Undergraduate Research Wall of Fame.  Accompanying his award is a commemorative wall plaque and an award check.  This new award is administered by the UMKC Undergraduate Research Advisory Board.

SCE Geomaterials Lab Receives Donation for Specialized Freezing and Thawing Chamber

Thanks to a generous donation from the Midwest Concrete Industry Board (MCIB) and the Concrete Promotional Group (CPG) Dr. John Kevern’s geomaterials laboratory will be getting a new, specialized, concrete freezing and thawing chamber! This chamber will be one of only a handful operational in the United States.  The geomaterials laboratory supports teaching and research related to soils, concrete, and asphalt.  In these laboratory-based courses the students get actual hands on experiences with the materials and testing which makes them more aware and valuable in their careers. On-going related research includes the development on a new freeze-thaw test for concrete, investigation into the impacts construction methods have on concrete durability, and pollutant removal of pervious concrete containing industrial by-product wastes. Research activities are performed by all levels of students from freshmen undergraduate researchers supported by the UMKC SEARCH program to PhD students funded on national grants.

UMKC SCE Alum Kiran Chelluri Works to Impact His Community

UMKC SCE Alum Kiran Chelluri (MS CS ‘01) insightfully talked about entrepreneurship and its ability to create positive change in the UMKC Alumni Association article Kiran Chelluri Sowing Dreams in the Silicon Prairie.  Describing his early childhood experiences of seeing his family and neighbors in India become successful entrepreneurs he says, “That is where the seed for entrepreneurship was born in me. I felt that entrepreneurs have the ability to impact the community and help change the world.”

The U.S. company he founded, Chelsoft Solutions Co., has expanded at a rapid pace and won local and national awards. In 2014, Chelsoft Solutions was named Kansas Minority-Owned Business of the Year in the Professional Service category. In 2015, it was named the number one IT company in the state of Kansas, number five over all business types in the state and number 638 over all industries in the United States by Inc. Chelsoft Solutions also received the MED Week Award from the Kansas Department of Commerce.  The Minority Enterprise Development Week Awards was established in 1983 to recognize outstanding achievements of minority businesses.

Kiran Chelluri knows the success he has experienced is in large part due to the efforts and support of his wife, family and talented colleagues. Talking about the importance of hard work and relationships in entrepreneurial success he says, “I want to credit my wife for supporting me in building Chelsoft Solutions Co. She is a 50% partner and has worked harder than I have to get the company where it is.  We also thank our parents and extended family as well for their support throughout.”  And he says of his talented colleagues, “I would also like to thank the incredible team at Chelsoft Solutions Co. to help us propel to this level.”

The growth of Chelsoft Solutions has allowed Chelluri to fulfill his other dream of helping the community. Through his company, Kiran Chelluri has founded numerous scholarships including the Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship Fund for Ph.D. students at UMKC and he currently services on our UMKC SCE Alumni Board.  Chelsoft Solutions also offers free software training and invests in new college graduates by hiring people just entering the work force and donates to aid education in third world countries.