Engineering

A solar-powered LED system that alerts motorists to cyclists in bike lanes won the Colorado Department of Transportation’s RoadX challenge May 3, 2017, part of the spring innovation design competition for the EPICS 151 course at Colorado School of Mines.

Nineteen teams of Colorado School of Mines students exhibited their design solutions for the Colorado Department of Transportation’s RoadX challenge May 3, 2017, as part of the spring innovation design competition for the EPICS 151 course.

EPICS courses are required for all Mines students, with the centerpiece an open-ended design problem that students must solve as part of a team effort.

More than 500 students organized into 40 teams participated in the RoadX challenge to increase pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

All teams presented their ideas to judges on May 2; judges then selected 19 finalists who exhibited their designs May 3. After two rounds of judging, the winning teams were Team Guardian Angels in third place, Team Illuminatey in second and Team Side Swipers Safety in first. These top three teams were awarded scholarships totaling $1,750 and invited to attend the RoadX awards event in late May.

Team Guardian Angels created a crosswalk that illuminates pedestrians when it’s dark and tracks them as they cross the road. Team Illuminatey’s project, called Lit Lanes, is a strip of LED lights that run along bikes lanes and are activated in segments as a bicyclist passes them, creating an active, moving light strip that follows the biker’s path. Team Side Swipers’ winning design is a solar-powered LED bicycle alert system to help ensure motorists are aware of a bicycle in a bike lane.

“Our target was for vehicles that turn right without thinking to check for a cyclist approaching in the lane,” said Team Side Swipers member and mechanical engineering freshman Christian Tello. “When vehicles don’t check, it can lead to sideswipes, especially since the bicycles are much smaller than vehicles. With our proactive system, the LED array alerts drivers that a cyclist is inbound and we eliminate the need for humans to check. We used a police light pattern for the LED alerts to take advantage of the psychological effects of police lights and to ensure it catches the eyes of all drivers.”

As part of their course work, teams were required to conduct stakeholder interviews and research before beginning their design solution.

“As we worked on this problem, we began to realize how large this issue is—especially for people who commute by bicycle every day,” said Seamus Millet of Team Illuminatey. “We were happy to try and design a solution that would have a positive impact,”

“This semester’s RoadX challenge was an ideal EPICS I project,” said EPICS Program Director Leslie Light. “EPICS teaches open-ended problem-solving and workplace skills, and this challenge has many different solutions through a variety of disciplines,” she said. “Issues with biker and pedestrian safety affect us all, so the students could also relate to it and see the mark their work can leave on the world around them.”

 

Contact:
Megan Hanson, Communications Manager, Academic Affairs | 303-384-2358 | mhanson@mines.edu
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu

The Humanitarian Engineering Program at the Colorado School of Mines is evolving.

Having originated as a minor offered through the Division of Liberal Arts and International Studies (now the Division of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences), the program has now moved into the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences, and grown to encompass two minors: the original in Humanitarian Engineering (HE) and a new one in Leadership for Social Responsibility (LSR) that will be ready for student enrollment in Fall 2017.

The LSR minor aims to serve students who are passionate about working for the well-being of communities from within corporate environments. HE and LSR will also be two focus areas in the revised Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) program.  

“We are very excited to have a revised BSE among Mines’ program offerings, with HE and LSR in it, so that Mines can become the destination of choice for students seeking to serve society through engineering,” said Humanitarian Engineering Program Director Juan Lucena, professor in the Engineering, Design and Society Division.

The mission of Humanitarian Engineering at Mines is to teach students how engineering can contribute to creating just and sustainable solutions for communities. The program also offers several enrichment opportunities for Mines students, such as the Peace Corps Prep Program, the Shultz Family Fund Lecture Series and scholarships, as well as ongoing relationships with groups across campus such as Mines Without Borders which are committed to bettering the world through engineering.

“Humanitarian Engineering is an amazing program,” said CECS Dean Kevin Moore. “It was one of the reasons I moved to Mines in 2005, and although I didn't get involved in promoting and helping build it until 2011, HE’s goals inspire me as both an educator and as an engineer.”

Rosalie O’Brien, a 2016-2017 Shultz Scholar majoring in environmental engineering, said she started in humanitarian engineering because she wants to make a positive difference in the world. “After all, we design for people,” she said. “To me, it only made sense that my undergraduate education should incorporate classes about human-centered problem-definition and community engagement. Becoming a Shultz Scholar was an extension of my education and provided me more outlets to engage with faculty members.” 

In addition to O’Brien, the Shultz Scholars for 2016-2017 were mechanical engineering senior Kekahu Aluli , chemical engineering senior Stephanie Martella, geophysical engineering seniors Micaela Pedrazas and Michelle Pedrazas and civil engineering junior Vy Duong. Each student was awarded approximately $8,500 to support his or her studies over the course of one year. The scholars engaged in student recruitment and program outreach, and presented their research to academic and professional audiences.


The 2016-2017 Shultz Scholars.
The 2016-2017 Shultz Scholars from left: Micaela Pedrazas, Rosalie O'Brien, Vy Duong, Kekahu Aluli, Michelle Pedrazas, Stephanie Martella.

“Being a Shultz Scholar has allowed me to really connect with like-minded individuals who share a passion for innovative solution solving,” said Aluli. “I have come to learn that engineering is more than just looking for a perfect technical solution. The social impacts are just as important, and the Shultz Scholarship has allowed me to take a critical look at engineering in an effort to better the process toward deriving sociotechnical solutions.”

Aluli plans to return to Mines next year to pursue a degree in Engineering and Technology Management, and eventually hopes to combine his knowledge with that gained through the HE program to become a social entrepreneur.

Lucena noted the increased engagement that the Shultz Family Fund has brought to the program, saying that it “has allowed us to bring HE and LSR to new faculty, student and professional audiences, to engage new programs and departments on campus and to explore new opportunities for students beyond the minor.”

HE aims to increase engagement particularly with programs in the geosciences, sparked by growing faculty and student interest in organizations like Geoscientists Without Borders and alumni participation in organizations like Geology in the Public Interest. A new alumni interest group in Leadership in Social Responsibility sponsored by the Mines Alumni Association is seeking to connect Mines community members who work around issues focused on social responsibility and humanitarian engagement.  

O’Brien notes the connections she has already made through the Shultz Scholar program, saying that the best part of her experience has been working with the other scholars. “They are some of the brightest, most enthusiastic and overall amazing people that I’ve had the pleasure to meet at Mines.

Eventually, program leaders hope to make humanitarian engineering at Mines the first such degree program in the country.

Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu

 

Team DiggerLoop, a group of 14 mechanical and electrical engineering seniors at the Colorado School of Mines, was awarded first place in the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences (CECS) Spring Senior Design Trade Fair on April 27, 2017. The team’s winning design was part of a national competition to design a pod that can travel on SpaceX’s high-speed transportation Hyperloop track—Mines recently became one of 27 teams to advance to the final competition weekend in SpaceX’s Hyperloop Pod Competition II.

"While we knew our project was already pretty awesome, we were a bit concerned about our success at the trade fair because our project is still just a design, while other teams had things you can touch and feel,” said Austin Genger, the team’s project manager. “Fortunately, our entire team knows the project inside and out, so that aided in us in talking our project up to the judges during the Trade Fair. Even still, we were pretty shocked to find out we won. It's quite an honor at a school like Mines!"

Team Hyperloop’s lead engineer also received a personal honor at the Trade Fair. Karl Grueschow received first place in the Broader Impacts Essay Contest for his paper, “Power Shortage: Social Impacts of Electric Transportation.”

“Winning the essay competition was completely unexpected,” said Grueschow. “My main focus over the last year has been the design competition with my team, but it is an honor to receive this individual recognition as well.”

Zachary Swanson received second place for writing on the “Impacts of the Tesla Model 3 on a Sustainable Future,” and Kenneth Larson received third place for “Natural Gas for the Environment.”

Other teams who received recognition include the Catalyst Designs team for their design of a portable generator system that can run on a wide range of continuously varying gaseous fuels, and the Efficient Energies team who were challenged to reduce the 2015-16 electrical peak demand level by 20 percent. The teams received second and third place honors respectively.

A newer tradition at the Trade Fair is the Humanitarian Engineering Award, given this year to team Banding Together for their masonry design to build earthquake resistant homes in Nepal.

“I am always very proud at the end of each semester to see the finished product of not just our seniors’ Capstone design projects, but their entire education at Mines,” said CECS Dean Kevin Moore. “These projects put all that they have learned into practical application, and I am continuously blown away by what they come up with. Congratulations to all of our seniors!”

Learn more about the Capstone Design Program at Mines by visiting capstone.mines.edu. Photos from this year’s event can be seen in the slideshow below.


Contact:
Megan Hanson, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science and Engineering | 303-384-2358 | mhanson@mines.edu
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu


 

 

Colorado School of Mines students have teamed up with architecture students from the University of San Francisco in the Gabion Band Ring Beam Challenge. The purpose of the challenge is to test and evaluate masonry home designs and their resistance to seismic activity.

In 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, devastating communities and areas in the Kathmandu region. As homes and buildings lay in ruin, the question became, “How can the effects of a natural disaster be minimized in an area like Nepal, where homes are constructed with unreinforced masonry, and where materials are simply inaccessible?” 

The Gabion Band is a constructive technique that uses ring beams of stone wrapped in wire mesh to tie the masonry walls together to become more stable in seismic events. 

Team “Banding Together” is made up of Mines civil engineering seniors Jessie Berndsen, Molly Epstein and Jared Roberts, along with mechanical engineering seniors Caitlin Kaltenbaugh and David Pum. The team constructed models and performed tests on a shaker table throughout the course of one year as part of a project for the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences Capstone Design Program. The shaker table is able to simulate earthquakes of various magnitudes, allowing the team to evaluate the construction and integrity of their masonry design for use on Nepalese homes. 

The team will get the opportunity to showcase their findings at the CECS Capstone Senior Design Tradeshow on April 27, 2017, and they hope that the project will continue with future classes of seniors.

Learn more about the team's project in the video below.

UPDATE: After judging for the CECS Capstone Senior Design Tradeshow, the team eceived the Humanitarian Engineering Award for having the project with the highest humanitarian impact.

Contact:
Joe DelNero, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3326 | jdelnero@mines.edu
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu

The Colorado School of Mines chapter of the Society of Petroleum Engineers hosted its annual Joint Session on April 12, 2017, bringing together Mines students, faculty, alumni and oil and gas industry professionals from across Colorado. 

The speaker this year was SPE International President Janeen Judah, who spoke to the bustling Friedhoff Hall audience about current trends in the industry and gave career advice for those looking to enter the field.

“Joint Session is essentially when the ‘Petro Mafia’ gets together from across Colorado to eat, drink and network with Mines students,” said Alexandra Susich, junior in petroleum engineering and director of this year’s Joint Session. “Having an SPE president—two out of the three years we've put on Joint Session here at Mines—reflects how well-respected Mines is by the industry.”

Judah highlighted current trends in the oil and gas industry, focusing on the “Big 3”: big data, automation and robotics, and visualization and simulation. She encouraged students to get involved with these latest technologies to stay up to speed with the evolving industry.

Judah went on with more career development tips, framing her talk around the “3 Es”: excellence, endurance and empowerment. She explained that in such a highly cyclical industry, endurance and empowerment and the ability to pay it forward and work through the hard times, are essential. She also challenged audience members to come up with other industries that are not overly affected by economic ups and downs, emphasizing that “it’s not just our industry”.

Excellence, Judah stressed, should never be overlooked, even when working an internship unrelated to your true interests. “Be good at the job that you have now,” she said. “Don’t be thinking so much about becoming a manager that you forget to be an engineer.” 

Mines SPE Chapter President Bryan McDowell was proud of how the event came together, and is confident that the club will continue to exemplify the excellence that has gained Mines SPE its reputation as a leader among student chapters nationwide.

“Leading the SPE student chapter has been a great experience, both personally and professionally,” McDowell said. “The level of commitment from our officers and members continues to amaze me. Maintaining high standards is tough, but maintaining those standards while innovating and reinventing our club takes another level of dedication and talent.”

 

View photos from the event in the slideshow below.

SPE Joint Session 2017

Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu

 

 
David LaPorte, a master’s student in the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, is working to help mitigate landslide risk in communities in Guatemala thanks to a Fulbright grant. 
 
In 2015, a devastating landslide in a Guatemala City ravine killed an estimated 350 people in the settlement of El Cambray II, highlighting the urgent need for more research on landslide risk management.
 
LaPorte is conducting research at the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, with the cooperation of Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres, as part of a project to evaluate landslide risk management in precarious settlements of Guatemala City’s metropolitan area and develop cost-effective solutions.
 
“These settlements are built on the slopes of steep ravines and are populated by the area’s most economically vulnerable population,” explained LaPorte, whose ultimate goal is to help those who have little choice but to live in at-risk areas by studying ways to better manage these natural hazards.
 
To do this, LaPorte is evaluating the current landslide risk management initiatives put in place by Guatemalan government agencies and NGOs, such as risk-reduction tools and educational programs. “I plan to evaluate the effectiveness of some of these initiatives through a study of risk perception and behavior of the inhabitants of at-risk communities,” he said. Currently, there are no statistics in this field, which LaPorte’s research is working to address. Communities will be surveyed before and after risk-communication strategies are implemented, with the ultimate goal of improving initiatives to encourage risk-reducing behavioral change.
 
One of the biggest challenges LaPorte has faced during his three months in Guatemala thus far has been breaking into the existing network of researchers and organizations, many of whom have been working on this issue for years. “As an independent researcher, it has been challenging to catch up on the understanding of the way things are done here, and the recent history of risk-management initiatives in the settlements,” he said.  But LaPorte said everyone he has collaborated with has been very helpful, and finds this opportunity to experience a new community and culture very rewarding.
 
“The core of the Fulbright program is based on increasing cultural exchange and mutual understanding between people in the US and those abroad,” he said. “Being able to dedicate ten months of my master’s degree to not only my thesis project field work, but also to this cultural exchange, is such a joy.”
 
LaPorte is confident that the experience will help him “ become a more globally competent citizen and engineer.” 
 
“It is work that I love, and that has been made possible by the Fulbright grant.” 
 
Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu

 

Two Colorado School of Mines professors in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have been recognized for their achievements in geotechnical engineering with national awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Ning LuProfessor Ning Lu received the Ralph B. Peck Award, given for outstanding contributions to the geotechnical engineering profession through the publication of a case history or publication of recommended practices based on case histories. Professor D. Vaughan Griffiths received the H. Bolton Seed Medal, awarded for outstanding contributions to teaching, research or practice in geotechnical engineering.

Lu was recognized for his multiyear case study monitoring the subsurface hydrological and mechanical conditions leading to landslide occurrence on the coastal bluffs between Seattle and Everett, Wash., and for using the data collected to develop a new hydromechanical framework for slope-stability analysis.

The ASCE said Lu’s research over the past decade has made significant contributions to the study of rainfall-induced landslides. The recurring landslides in Washington are a major concern for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Sound Transit, which operates a railway along the bluffs. Results from Lu’s research is now being used to develop a comprehensive hazard mitigation strategy for the railway.

D Vaughan GriffithsGriffiths was honored for his innovative software developments, publications, textbooks and professional short courses on finite elements and probabilistic methods. According to the ASCE, “his highly cited work on finite element stability analysis has transformed the way engineers perform slope-stability analysis in practice.”

Griffiths’ workshops have made him a de facto “ambassador” for the profession, according to ASCE. He is currently chair of the ASCE GeoInstitute Risk Assessment and Management Committee, a core member of the equivalent ISSMGE TC304 Committee and has co-chaired two major GeoInstitute conferences. He is a current editor of Computers and Geotechnics, a recent past editor of ASCE’s Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering and on the editorial/advisory board of two other journals.

Contact:
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu
Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines magazine | 303-273-3959 | aspurgeon@mines.edu

 

Colorado School of Mines students and faculty reflect on their time in Nepal as part of a service trip for Hike for Help. The group spent their three-week winter vacation volunteering in Khumbu Valley, Nepal, constructing a public restroom facility for the local community and aiding in repairing the local high school that was destroyed in an earthquake in 2015.

Read more about the students who traveled to Nepal in Winter 2016-2017 here. Learn more about the Hike for Help organization at hikeforhelp.org.

 
A three-day NSF-sponsored workshop will bring to Mines 20 of the world’s top scholars focused on the societal aspects of mining and other extractive processes.
 
“STS Underground: Investigating the Technoscientific Worlds of Mining and Subterranean Extraction” will take place February 5 to 7, 2017. The workshop encourages a research approach that is often referred to as Science and Technology Studies, or Science, Technology, and Society (STS).
 
“STS sheds light on how mining, energy and other extractive processes are not just technical, but sociotechnical practices that have everything to do with questions of knowledge, power and expertise,” said Jessica Smith, Hennebach Assistant Professor of Energy Policy in Liberal Arts and International Studies. Smith is cohosting the conference with Ropali Phadke of Macalester College and Abby Kinchy of Renesselar Polytechnic Institute. “Industry leaders have learned that to be successful and sustainable, they need to be proactive in engaging these sorts of sociotechnical questions.”
 
The conference is the first one in STS to focus specifically on extractive activities. “The existing social science scholarship on mining and extraction comes largely from anthropology and geography, especially in terms of the consequences for vulnerable communities. Yet these fields remain largely distinct from STS and rarely engages practitioners, such as scientists and engineers,” explained Phadke. 
 
Workshop participants who are interdisciplinary humanities and social sciences scholars will have the opportunity to engage with scientists and engineers who work in those fields. They will also have an opportunity to tour the university’s Edgar Experimental Mine. Organizers say STS is well positioned to make an impact in these industries, opening up crucial questions about the technologies, practices and forms of knowledge related to subterranean extractive practices.
 
“We’re proud that Mines is playing a role in bringing these industries from the periphery of this field to the center of it,” said Smith.
 
While the majority of the three-day event is closed to the public in order to workshop papers in a forthcoming book, there are two public events on February 6: a panel discussion with invited guest scholars, who will synthesize and comment on the themes of the workshop, and a keynote address from renowned historian Gabrielle Hecht, an internationally recognized expert on nuclear energy policy and uranium mining. 
 
The panel will take place 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the Ben Parker Student Center, Ballrooms A and B, with speakers Anthony Bebbington of Clark University, Trevor Birkenholtz of the University of Illinois, Elizbeth Ferry of Brandeis Unvieristy and Phadke. More information about each of the speakers can be found here.
 
A reception will follow from 5:30 to 6 p.m., where posters showcasing Mines students’ research engaging with the social responsibility dimensions of mining, oil and gas, groundwater and geothermal projects will be on display. 
 
The keynote address will be held immediately after at 6 p.m. Hecht will present “Residual Governance: Mining Afterlives and Molecular Colonialism, seen from an African Anthropocene.”
 
“It’s exciting to see Mines at the forefront of defining the underground as a vibrant specialty inside of STS,” said Smith, “and the workshop is advancing our efforts in the Humanitarian Engineering program to grow research and teaching on social responsibility on campus.”
 
This workshop is being made possible by NSF Award 16322651.
 
Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 ramirez@mines.edu
 
Professor Carl Mitcham
The 2017 Colorado School of Mines Faculty Senate Distinguished Lecturer, Liberal Arts and International Studies Professor Carl Mitcham, will present “Engineering Ethics: Thinking Small and Big” at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, January 25, in the Student Center Ballrooms.
 
Mitcham’s talk will focus on the history of engineering ethics, and how an increasingly changing, engineered world affects the work of engineers in modern society, also discussing what this means for “everyone who directly or indirectly contributes to and is influenced by the engineering way of being in the world”.
 
In addition to his appointment at Mines, Mitcham also holds an appointment as an International Distinguished Professor of Philosophy of Technology at Renmin University of China. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy from the University of Colorado, and his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University.
 
For a full bio and abstract, see the faculty senate website.
 
Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
 

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