Engineering

GOLDEN, Colo., May 12, 2015 – Congratulations to the following Colorado School of Mines students who received awards at the Student Life Awards Luncheon May 7.

Outstanding Student Service Award

Presented to a student(s) who went above and beyond their academic role on campus to vigorously participate in activities or projects that benefit their fellow students and the Mines community.

A team of four sophomore students placed first (out of 41 Mines teams) in a Colorado School of Mines Intro to Mechanical Engineering (MEGN200) Wind Station Competition May 5. The team, Stormtroopers, had 2.5 weeks to design, build and program a weather station that was capable of measuring wind speed, temperature and two variables of their choice. Mechanical Engineering students Geordie Campbell, Aaron Fanganello, David Harper and Alicia Helmer created their system with a Star Wars theme, using Legos and an innovative homemade sensor.

“The Stormtroopers used every sensor that was provided to them and purchased additional Arduinos and sensors to use as well,” said Teaching Associate Professor Jenifer Blacklock. “They were very energetic and knowledgeable about their system, and it was clear that they had worked hard and spent numerous hours designing, building and programming their final wind station.”

To measure wind speed, the team 3D printed an anemometer (or windmeter) that they fixed on a rotor shaft of a remote controlled helicopter.

“At the base of the helicopter, we had two brush connections—one that made constant contact and one that made an interrupted contact. This allowed us to count the number of times the circuit was completed and convert that into wind speed,” Campbell said. “We measured temperature in conjunction with a new digital barometric pressure sensor, a BMP 180 chip.”

The top three to four teams from each section of the course were invited to compete in the Wind Station Competition, and were judged by faculty, ME undergraduate and graduate students on four main qualifications: a technically advanced system, appropriate user feedback, creativity and overall aesthetics. Students on the winning team received a $50 gift card to SparkFun, an electronics store.

 

Contact:
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

Kathleen Smits is a Civil and Environmental Engineering assistant professor at Colorado School of Mines. Smits has been interested in the environment from an early age and her interest for engineering grew as she advanced throughout her college career, but there are some things about Smits that you might not have known.

1. She is currently a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves

Smits was on active duty in the Air Force for eight years; for three years, she taught at the U.S. Air Force Academy in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Currently she is an operations research analyst in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, working part time at U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.

“At Mines I study current and emerging environmental problems that are of interest to our nation and the world using both analysis and experimentation. In the Air Force, I do the same thing for different problems and applications. A lot of the understanding and training that I have from being a scientist directly applies to what I do in the military.”

2. She has been scuba diving 150 times

As one of her first jobs out of college, Smits worked with the National Aquarium in Baltimore to help replant eelgrass in the Chesapeake Bay, a job requiring lots of underwater time. 

Since then, Smits has been on several scuba diving trips, mostly in the Caribbean but also in Japan and Hawaii.

Smits also enjoys sailing with her family, starting trips either in Lake Michigan or the Grenadines Islands.

“I love every minute I’m either in or under the water, which is ironic because even though I study water, I focus mostly on water availability in dry, arid regions.”

3. She’s lived all over the place

Smits grew up in Pennsylvania and went to high school in Illinois. She studied Environmental Engineering as an undergraduate student in the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado and then studied Civil Engineering–Water Resources at the University of Texas in Austin. While in the Air Force, Smits deployed to a military base in Saudi Arabia for about six months and lived in both Virginia and Colorado.

“When I came to Mines to do my PhD, I realized that I really love teaching but I equally love the research. That’s why I wanted to work and contribute at a university like Mines that has both a research and teaching focus.”

4. She loves running and has a top three list of the most beautiful places to run:

  • Zion National Park, Utah

    Since high school, Smits has been an avid runner. Whenever her family took her to a national park for a vacation, she didn’t hesitate to use it as an excuse to go running.

  • Nakuru, Kenya

    “There are giraffes and chimpanzees all over the roads that I had to dodge to run down the street. If you run in a straight line, you’ll hit a large animal!”

  • Diablerets, Switzerland

    During a research conference in a small, ski town in the Swiss Alps, Smits went for morning runs along a river that runs from the glaciers through the town.

    “Where the path ends, there is a road that passes by all the farms with the sheep and cattle to keep you company. What a beautiful place!”

5. Her favorite hobby is photography

Smits started taking photos regularly seven years ago when her daughter, Elizabeth, was born. Now Elizabeth is immune to her mom taking photos and poses regularly when Smits has her camera around.

Smits also enjoys playing around with Photoshop to make her photos appear different than the original.

“I also water color to get the other side of my brain work.”


Civil and Environmental Engineering professor Kathleen Smits has been teaching at Colorado School of Mines for three and a half years, but began her journey at Mines in 2007, when she was a PhD candidate. Smits currently teaches Hazardous Waste Site Remediation, Fluid Mechanics and Environmental Pollution.

Smits is working with fellow CEE professor Tissa Illangasekare on studying natural gas leakage from oil and gas production into the environment. She is also one of two Mines recipients of the 2015 NSF CAREER Award, in which she aims to advance the science and education of land surface-atmosphere interactions.

 

Contact:
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

GOLDEN, Colo., April 28, 2015 – Forty teams of students in the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences have spent the last two semesters working on projects to present at the Senior Design Trade Fair which was held April 23. Faculty, industry representatives and alumni judged teams on their ability to define, analyze and address a design problem and to present their work through display and dialogue.

Imagine a 10,000-square-foot “food hub” that would allow Golden residents access to local foods from Front Range farmers. Eileen Regan, an active member of Golden Farming Cooperative (GoFarm), asked Mines senior design students in the College of Engineering and Computational Science to outline how the nonprofit could construct a green, low-impact, mobile CSA pick up site where farmers could store and distribute their products.

“Right now, local food (especially organically grown local food) is not very affordable and there’s a need for accessibility,” said Regan. “Golden has historically served as a depot, and intersects the six major agricultural regions. I’m hopeful that that this would allow us to connect with a local food network across the state.”

The project originally started with one Mines senior design team and soon morphed into three teams as one needed to focus on the facility’s design, another on a refrigeration model and one on eliminating food waste.

The team “Turnip the Beet,” made up of six students (three civil engineering and three environmental engineering), analyzed the cost, floor plan and materials for the warehouse. After researching sustainable design options, they chose an Eco-Smart roof with recycled materials, a glass curtain wall, structural insulated panels (SIPs) and an aluminum sun shade.

“We wanted our building to be as passive as possible so that we could help GoFarm lower their energy costs,” said environmental engineering student Taylor Baird. “Our sun shade allows the most sunlight into the building through the glass curtain wall during the winter and the least amount during the summer. SIPs provide the warehouse with vertical support as well as insulation that helps maintain a constant temperature within the four temperature zones.”

In order to know what types of materials to use, Baird’s team used data from the Golden Energy Solutions team, who were looking at “green” ways to refrigerate the food hub. Along with five other mechanical engineering students, Carly Conley worked with her team to build a refrigeration model using EnergyPlus, an energy simulation software.

“We chose a geothermal/vapor-compression hybrid system because it was the most efficient and environmentally responsible option,” said Conley. “Using this system, we could generate around 30 percent energy savings, which translates to the food hub requiring a 9-ton cooling system.”

Another team, Dynamic Energy Providers (three mechanical engineering students and two electrical engineering students), analyzed how different power sources could work together to remove food waste and turn it into energy. Their design utilizes two different natural gas generators—one that powers the refrigeration model and one the storage and dry food load.

“We started researching all passive options (wind, solar, natural gas) and narrowed it down to using natural gas generators so that it could be as off-the-grid as possible, and we chose a biodigestor to break down food waste into biogas,” said mechanical engineering student Reed Sanchez. “We’re creating free energy and doing something about the food waste. The biodigestor helps lower the cost of operation, which in turn lowers the cost to consumers and farmers.”

GoFarm’s food hub is slated for construction in or near Golden in 2018.

 

Contact:
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

GOLDEN, Colo., April 22, 2015 – The Colorado School of Mines Office of Special Programs and Continuing Education will host the fourth International School for Materials for Energy and Sustainability July 13-20. 

The weeklong school will present state-of-the-art and future perspectives for materials as they can be applied to energy generation and storage for sustainable energy technologies.

The Mines student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) placed fourth overall (out of 13 teams) in the Rocky Mountain Student Conference last weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The steel bridge team placed fourth overall and the concrete canoe team third overall in their respective competitions.

“There is some tough competition in our conference so we were happy to improve from 4th place last year to 3rd place this year,” said Rachel Steenerson, a civil engineering student who worked as the technical director on the canoe. “We really had an edge over the competition because we had an awesome group of EPICS students that worked on the aesthetics and display part of the competition during the spring semester so the senior design students were able to focus on the more technical aspects of the project.”

The complete ASCE rankings by competition are listed below:

  • Concrete Canoe: 3rd Place Overall

Senior Design Students: Heather Mergentime, Brett Mahon, Laura Brewer, Rachel Nagel, Rachel Steenerson, Dina Vakarchuk, Katie Herrera and Broc Patterson
EPICS students: Taylor Poynor, Cohen Turner, Melanie Stephenson, Aaron Graham, Jorge Rodriguez, Alex Deseau, Maito Okamoto, Jared Roberts and Jon Chesnut

  • Design Paper: 2nd Place
  • Oral Presentation: 3rd Place
  • Final Product: 4th Place
  • Race Results:
    • Women's Sprint: 2nd Place
    • Men's Sprint: 2nd Place
    • Coed Sprint: 3rd Place
    • Women's Endurance: 3rd Place
    • Men's Endurance: 4th Place
       
  • Non-Technical Paper: 3rd Place

Student: Jon Chestnut

  • Steel Bridge: 4th Place Overall

Students: Nikol Hall, Alexi Scherkenbach, Eli Ludtke, Max Ransom, Mark Sundstrom and Travis White

  • Mystery Design - 4th Place

Students: Melanie Stephenson, Jared Roberts and Aaron Graham

  • Pre-Design: 5th Place

Students: Taylor Poynor and Thomas Chesson

  • Technical Paper: 9th Place

Student: Rebecca Boggan

  • Charity Event: Habitat for Humanity coin donation box featuring a Colorado Ski Resort

Students: Jenny Mathew, Maito Okamoto, Nicholas Alexander Chavez, Ashley Rosacker, Krista Hickey and Emily Echelberger

 

Contact:
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

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