Engineering

 
Emerita Associate Professor Cathy Skokan has been named a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) at the society’s annual conference this week in New Orleans. 

Founded in 1893, ASEE is a nonprofit organization of individuals and institutions committed to furthering education in engineering and engineering technology. The organization promotes excellence in instruction, research and public service, and fosters technological education. The honor of fellow is bestowed by the ASEE Board of Directors upon members in recognition of outstanding contributions to engineering or engineering technology education.

The first female to earn a graduate degree at Mines

Skokan’s early interest in rocks led to a love of science, and a wise high school counselor suggested she combine her skills in math and science with her passion for the outdoors and study geophysics.

“I remember I applied to LeHigh University as C. King, my maiden name,” said Skokan, “because they weren’t accepting women at the time. But they eventually figured out I was a woman.”

Mines, on the other hand, offered Skokan a full scholarship. She received her bachelor’s degree in geophysical engineering in 1970, and went on to become the first woman to receive a graduate degree from Mines in any field, receiving her master’s degree in 1971, and PhD in 1974. Her goal remained conducting research for a government organization.

 

From government researcher to university professor

Skokan’s many contributions to engineering education and to Mines, in particular, almost never came to be. She originally saw herself solely as a researcher rather than a teacher. Thanks to a delay in her government paperwork, she returned to Mines to do postdoctoral research in electromagnetics while waiting to start her new job. Skokan shared how her plans changed: "Just before the beginning of the fall semester, George Keller, who was the head of the department and my thesis advisor, came in and said, ‘We need someone to teach linear systems analysis.’

“I said, ‘I don’t teach.’

"He said, ‘Classes meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday.’ He handed me the class notes, told me what time it started and walked out the door.

“Linear systems was not one of my favorite subjects, though it is now.”

Skokan credits Keller as a mentor throughout her early career. She went on to accept a tenured faculty position in Geophysics. In 1996, she moved to what was then the Engineering Division at Mines (now the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences), where she spent the next 20 years teaching linear systems, senior design and geophysical courses to electrical engineering students.

“Several of my research grants centered around electromagnetic methods of mapping earth structures,” Skokan explained, “so I got to combine electrical engineering and geology, which was the best of all worlds.”

Humanitarian Engineering Program

Skokan was also one of the initiators of the Humanitarian Engineering program at Mines, the first in the nation. Initial funding from the Hewlett foundation aimed to take student engineers to communities that needed their skills most. As a result, Skokan took student groups to Senegal, Honduras and Ghana to work on solving real problems with engineering solutions.

Skokan recalls a particular Humanitarian Engineering trip to Alaska:

"An Alaskan tribal community had invited us to help with projects to prepare them for a community center. Over multiple years, we designed a road and septic system, among other things. One year, we were driving out there from the airport, and a student asked, “Do they live in igloos?” I told him, no, and that he would see what they lived in soon. The Bureau of Indian Affairs had built a series of prefab houses intended for Hawaii, and when they weren’t needed in Hawaii, they were sent there. Some members of the community lived in old school buses, and it reached -40 Fahrenheit during the winters. We left with a real sense of doing work that was needed. It was an eye-opening experience for all of us.”

 

Humanitarian Engineering students traveled to the University of Ghana with Associate Professor Skokan in 2007 as part of their senior design project.

Music at Mines

Skokan still believes that international experiences are essential for every engineer’s education, and often travels with Mines music students. She currently plays violin with the Mines Orchestra, bassoon with the Mines Band and erhu with the Mines Chinese Band.

"I’ve played in the band since I was a student here in the 60s,” said Skokan. “Believe it or not, I was the first director of the orchestra here, until they finally hired a real musician rather than an engineer to conduct the orchestra.”

 

                                                   Catherine Skokan and the Mines Marching Band in Dublin's 2015 St. Patrick's Day Parade.

In 2016, Skokan led 150 Mines music students and alumni on a spring trip to march in Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “We always combine an engineering and musical component on these trips,” explained Skokan. “In Ireland, we visited Dublin Institute of Technology, with whom we are now working on a collaborative effort. I also took a group of students into the Tara Mines, a lead and zinc mine near County Meath. Because we are engineers, not just tourists, they took us underground and the students had a blast exploring the machinery. It included electrical, mechanical, civil, mining, geology— talk about interdisciplinary!”

 

                                                   Students prepare for an underground tour of the lead and zinc Tara Mine in Co. Meath, Ireland.

In 2015, Skokan accompanied Mines music students and alumni to Jamaica. In addition to meeting with engineering students at the University of the West Indies, the Mines group participated in a recording session with Winston “Sparrow” Martin, Bob Marley's percussionist, at the studio that Bob Marley founded.

In 2017, Skokan will be taking Mines music students to Florence. “We’ll be visiting Santa Croce,” said Skokan, “where Galileo, Michelangelo and Rossini are buried. It’s also right on the Arno River, which flooded in 1966, killing more than 100 people and destroying millions of masterpieces. So we’re going to talk to a professor from the University of Florence about flood mitigation and art restoration."

Innovation in engineering education

Skokan became involved in ASEE around the time that she joined the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She spent a sabbatical writing a pre-engineering curriculum for Adams School District, which is still in use.

“Every project had a computer, math, writing and engineering component,” said Skokan.

“I joined the multidisciplinary division of ASEE,” continued Skokan, “because electrical, mechanical and civil were all under the Engineering Division in those days. I went from Secretary, to Treasurer, then Program Chair and finally Chair.” Skokan is currently the ASEE Vice President for External Relations, which includes chairing ASEE’s international advisory committee and external projects.

"The best thing ASEE offers,” according to Skokan, “is workshops and venues to look at innovative teaching methodsthose that worked and those that didn’t. I believe looking at the failure papers can be even more educational than the success papers." 

Despite retiring in 2015, Skokan remains as busy as ever. She will be giving a talk in Japan at the annual Japanese Society for Engineering Education meeting, and another in Korea in November at an engineering education conference. 

Skokan is the third Mines faculty member to be named an ASEE Fellow in addition to Theodore A. Bickart in 2000 and Joan Gosink in 2010.

 

All photos from the personal archives of Emerita Associate Professor Catherine Skokan.

Contact:

Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 | kmorton@mines.edu

GOLDEN, CO, June 20, 2016 — Colorado School of Mines and the Alliance for the Development of Additive Processing Technologies (ADAPT), a consortium of academic, industry and government institutions focused on developing technologies to accelerate the certification and qualification of 3D-printed metal parts, will be hosting an open house 5 p.m. June 23 in the ADAPT Advanced Characterization Center (Brown W230).

On April 2, Mines won the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Rocky Mountain section Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) competition. IBA is a prospective basin evaluation competition for geoscience graduate students from universities around the world. The program is rigorous and contributes to AAPG's mission of promoting petroleum geoscience training and advancing the careers of geoscience students. Over 250 teams from over 50 countries around the world partipate in IBA competition each year, and one winner from each AAPG section is chosen.

This win makes Mines one of 12 teams to move forward to the international competition June 17-18 in Calgary, which will take place as part of AAPG's Annual Technical Conference and Exhibtion (ATCE). These teams will be analyzing a dataset (geology, geophysics, land, production infrastructure and other relevant materials) prior to the competition. During the event, teams will be delivering their results in a 25-minute presentation to a panel of industry experts. Students will have the chance to use state of the art technology on a real dataset, receive feedback from an industry panel, impress potential employers in the audience and receive scholarship funds and international recognition. The judges will select the winning team on the basis of the technical quality, clarity and originality of presentation.

The Mines team includes Abdulah Eljalafi, Sarah King, faculty advisor and geology professor Steve Sonnenberg, Michael Harty, Matt Bauer and Evan Allred.

"This is the most successful industry supported student project in AAPG that impacts hundreds of students internationally," said Sonnenberg. "Students love the competition. They meet industry mentors, land jobs on the spot if they do well and learn new computer software by analyzing a data set. Industry loves the competition because they get to see students giving technical presentations on very complex data sets."

This is Mines' fifth time competing in the international competition. In 2012 and 2014, Mines placed third.

 

Contact:

Agata Bogucka, Information Specialist, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 | kmorton@mines.edu

In the spring of 2015 undergraduate Dominic Pena approached Sam Drescher, president of the Mines student chapter of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), with a crazy idea: What if they were to gather students with a shared passion for aerospace at Mines and enter the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) competition?

Each August AIAA releases the new challenge for that year’s Design/Build/Fly competition. It also involves students designing, fabricating and demonstrating the flight capabilities of a radio-controlled aircraft, but each year the specific mission profile changes. Mines had never previously competed.

The challenges were steep. While Mines boasts top-rated mechanical engineering and physics programs, there isn’t an aerospace program. The group would be competing against schools with years of experience, funding, and space for their work.

Nonetheless, Pena and Drescher met throughout the summer and in the fall of 2015 held a meeting with more than 80 students in attendance.

“We knew the interest was there,” said Drescher. “When we polled students in ASME for what topics they would like to see more options for, 70 percent of our members said aerospace.”

Students were asked to submit applications. Eighteen students, mostly mechanical and physics majors, sophomores and juniors, were chosen to form Team Burroworks.

EPICS and Senior Design faculty will be proud to learn of the systematic approach the team took to their design.

Drescher describes the design process as “a total group effort. We broke the 18 of us into two teams. Each team presented three concepts for the planes and then as a group we voted on the best one based on a matrix. We did initial sketches and then Spencer Connor created preliminary designs in SolidWorks.”

“We found an airfield about five miles from Mines,” Pena explained, “and made friends with a lot of mentors out there. The president of the Arvada Associated Modelers acted as a great resource to us, and Dr. Angel Abbud-Madrid (Director of Mines Center for Space Resources) went through safety checklists with us as well as flight checks. He became our faculty advisor. We never had any close calls.”

Initially AIAA’s Design/Build/Fly competition is open to all schools. More than 140 teams submitted proposals and the top 80 made it to the final competition. Burrowork’s final report was ranked 17th best.

“In order to continue in the competition, you have to meet a series of deadlines. If you miss one, you are out. And you have to realize, none of us were doing this work for class credit. We were juggling our course loads, work, activities, athletics or senior design projects for some, all at the same time. So it was truly a passion project. We were all choosing to spend our time and energy on this. That’s what made it so great and the group so close,” explained Drescher.

Despite their disadvantages, the Mines team progressed and on April 13 prepared to leave for the competition in Wichita, Kansas. Some of those very disadvantages became benefits too.

“Compared to the other teams, we had minimal advising, minimal funding, minimal equipment and no space. Our project was stored either at someone’s family garage or in the senior design lab. We just made it work, but it also required that our design be strong and not fragile.”

That strength turned out to be a double-edged sword for the team.

“Many of us had exams the evening before we left for Kansas,” said Pena. “So we just drove all night and got there without much sleep. It was rainy and windy. Only about 30 teams even managed to get one mission done. Several teams built their planes out of balsa with monocot, which is great for weight and very streamlined, but not great for poor weather conditions.”

“Our large plane was carbon fiber and fiberglass mixed composite. The smaller one that was required to fit inside the larger plane was foam with laminate and re-enforced with more carbon fiber on the inside. And that thing was durable. It survived 25 crashes prior to the competition. The only thing that ever broke on it was the landing gear. Luckily we put the prop in the back and so every time we crashed the prop was okay. It was probably about 50 feet in the air with a 2-pound payload hanging below it, and nothing broke. You could definitely tell that mechanical engineers build this as opposed to aerospace students because it weighed a lot, went fast and was durable.”

Ultimately the team finished in 19th place out of 82 teams.

“We were one of the only teams out of the first 17 to actually complete the first mission successfully,” said Drescher. “We were the only team that never had a breakdown or needed repairs. We walked off the field singing the Mines school song. After we did that, other schools starting doing the same thing, but we were the first, even if we weren’t as loud since most had three times as many students there.”

“We were ecstatic to finish as well as we did our first year,” shared Pena. “We beat all the other Colorado schools, and even schools with strong aerospace programs like MIT, Purdue and Berkeley. Just imagine what we could accomplish with more funding and more space!”

Sam Drescher attributes their success to three things: “First, we had a great pilot, Ryan Friedman. And we had Spencer Connor, who had great build knowledge. And finally, we had a team where each person was personally invested – no one was assigned to the team or doing it for a grade.”

Next year AIAA’s Design/Build/Fly will be held in Tucson, Arizona. The team plans to meet throughout this summer and build on their initial success. You can follow along with the team as it designs, tests and reiterates for the 2017 competition via their YouTube channel at CSM DBG Burroworks.

 

Contact:

Deirdre Keating, Information Specialist, College of Engineering and Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | kgilbert@mines.edu

 

More than 500 first-year students have been wrestling with the problem of removing and processing plastic debris from oceans and shorelines during this semester’s EPICS 1 course. The top 20 teams will present their designs and prototypes at the final EPICS Competition at 5:30 p.m., May 5, in the Green Center.

Each semester, first-year Mines students tackle a different real-world problem, while being introduced to technical, open-ended problem-solving. Last semester students worked on landmine detection, and the previous spring on wheelchair designs.

"The EPICS program has made a number of changes under leadership from the current director, Leslie Light,” said CECS Dean Kevin Moore.

“In addition to the increased rigor and management-related changes, what I am most excited about is the ongoing integration of the concepts of Human-Centered Design Thinking into the course,” continued Moore. “This methodology, which grew out of the Institute for Design at Stanford and has been promulgated by IDEO, considers the human perspective in all stages of the design process. It helps students begin to understand why we engineer or otherwise innovate in the first place."

Mines EPICS program has added additional permanent faculty, developed more uniform grading policies across sections, and streamlined some practices.

“We still have a focus on communication,” said EPICS Director Leslie Light, “but we’ve expanded deliverables to include stakeholder perspectives as well as the test-refine-iterate cycle. We take a scaffolding approach to solving open-ended problems that apply to science as well as engineering.”

“For example, students are introduced to Gantt chart basics in EPICS, then go deeper into project planning in EPICS 2,” Light explained. “Within CECS, we work with Senior Design Director Jered Dean so that students are building on that foundation to go deep, knowing to build prototypes based on the experiments they need.”

Mines students often take pride in quickly arriving at solutions, which can be a key to success in a typical classroom. EPICS —and intelligent design—require a bit more.

“We ask students to slow down, to learn more about their clients’ perspective, question their own assumptions, and take a systemic approach to solving problems,” said Light. “The world is full of poorly designed solutions, often created by smart people who committed to one solution before fully understanding the problem. EPICS seeks to change that trend.”

You can glimpse the variety of designs from this semester’s ocean debris challenge below, and don’t miss seeing the top teams at Thursday’s competition event.

2016 Mines EPICS Ocean Plastic Removal Project

Contact:
Deirdre Keating, Information Specialist, College of Engineering and Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | kgilbert@mines.edu

 

 

The College of Engineering and Computational Sciences hosted their annual Senior Design Trade Fair on April 28 at Lockridge Arena. Thirty-nine interdisciplinary teams presented their year-long capstone projects. Alumni, faculty and industry leaders served as judges, evaluating the teams on their ability to define, analyze and address the problems of real clients.

The first place winning team was MINESat, a team of six electrical engineering, six mechanical engineering, and two engineering physics students who worked under the direction of the Antennas and Wireless Communications (AWC) Group in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) Department. Building on the work of last year’s initial CubeSat team, the team developed and tested a fully-functional CubeSAT bus with ground station to meet NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative requirements.

“The biggest accomplishments were the development of the software and hardware to make a UHF half-duplex wireless communications system possible, and developing versatile software for the space-rated flight board that will serve future Cubesat teams,” said team member Kyle Patel.

Payam Nayeri, EECS Assistant Professor and faculty advisor to the team, attributed the team success to the team’s dedication and attention to detail. “From early on in the project, they were able to gain a good understanding of the problem on a system level,” said Nayeri. “This translated directly to allocating proper time and manpower to every one of the subsystems in the satellite. Thanks to the exceptional technical leads of the project, Kyle Patel and David Hodge, Mines has taken a big step towards launching its first satellite.”

The ground station for the Cubesat program is in the process of being built on the roof of Brown Building. “Expect to see Cubesat more and more around campus in years to come,” predicts Patel.

Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s Senior Design Trade Fair:

Broader Impacts Essay Winners

  • 1st Place: “A Sustainable River Waya” by Audra Agajanian (Env.)
  • 2nd Place: “Rare Earth Elements in Electronics” by Ryan Patton (EE)
  • 3rd Place: “Little Decisions, Big Impacts” by Caleb Clough (ME)

Trade Fair Winners

Team Members:

  • David Hodge
  • Emma Watson
  • Evan Stoelzel
  • Garrett Dietz
  • John Hong
  • Kelton Lightfoot
  • Kyle Patel
  • Logan Knowles
  • Richard Uhrie
  • Sean Garneau
  • Shannon Bradley
  • Steven Mohan
  • Tyler Croteau

Client: Dr. Randy Haupt
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Payam Nayeri
Consultants: Dr. Atef Elsherbeni, Dr. Ozkan Celik

Team Members:

  • Thor Andreassen
  • Cortney Ewert
  • Eric Garza
  • Sean Guidi
  • Paige Lonergan
  • Alyssa Spomer

Client: Mary Page Smith
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Eric Bonnema
Consultants: Dr. Linda Layne, Dr. Jeff Schowalter

3rd Place: TIE – Maple Hall Retrofit Team & ESP Consulting

Team Members:

  • Justin Fantasky
  • Hillary Knaebel
  • Emanuel Graves
  • Damian David
  • Yassin Alhauwaj
  • Syamil Amri

Client: John Macpherson, Baker Hughes
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Yitz Finch
Consultants: Dr. Ray Zhang, Prof. Buddy Haun

Team Members:

  • Sarah Dewar
  • Emily Wong
  • Michael Harrison
  • Trevor Lager
  • Victoria Eagen
  • Isabel Goni-McAteer

Client: Dr. Paulo Tabares
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Eric Bonnema
Consultants: Dr. Neal Sullivan

Humanitarian Engineering Award – Urine Good Hands

Team Members:

  • Justin Ripley
  • Isaac Avila
  • Alejandra Ruiz
  • Haley Salzwedel
  • Logan Yamamoto

Client: Emily Woods, Sanivation
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Lee Landkamer
Consultants: Dr. Tzahi Cath, Prof. Ben Teschner

2016 Spring Trade Fair

 

Contact:
Deirdre Keating, Information Specialist, College of Engineering and Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 | kmorton@mines.edu

A Colorado School of Mines team is raising money for a tiny house that they will use to test technologies and features to include in a future Solar Decathlon competition.

As students research energy modeling, University of Colorado-Denver students are helping Mines with the architecture, structural engineering and design. In less than 300 square feet, the house will be designed to include a kitchen, bathroom and office area.

“Not only do we want our schools to be recognized internationally, but we want to put Denver and Colorado on the map for the various sustainable initiatives occurring in the city and state,” said materials science engineering student Ethan Palay. “We also want to encourage future collaboration between Mines and CU-D, as the programs at both universities can complement each other and, together, achieve more.”

Currently, the two teams are raising $5,000 to cover the cost of a trailer for their house. If they meet their goal, they will start construction this summer at Mines Park.

After the house is built, it will be incorporated into a new course this fall, Renewable Energy Design Project (ENGY 498B). Led by Physics Professor Tim Ohno, the course will give students the opportunity to use the space to test out tiny living and perform research. Faculty will also have the opportunity to use the house to teach classes.

“I think the tiny house poses the potential to really broaden some peoples’ interest in energy and build on the minor program we have now,” said mechanical engineering student Katherine Schneider. “It will also create a place where different disciplines can come together to do research on the house.”

The results of the tiny house will help influence the team's design for a 600-1,000-square-foot house, which will be submitted to the Department of Energy in 2017 to be considered for the 2019 Solar Decathlon competition. If their design is chosen, the team will be one of 20 university teams working to build an efficient, affordable and attractive solar-powered home by summer 2019. The houses will be judged in 10 different categories (hence Decathlon), with the winner collecting the most points out of a maximum 1,000 available.

The team includes students James Proctor, Jo Madenjian, Ethan Palay, George Burton, Veronika Zhiteneva, Cameron Barufaldi, Michael Balmes, Maddy Papell, Supriya Tawde, Emily Makoutz, Jessica Kaufman, Andrew Kavas, Dhrupad Parikh, William Daniels, Patrick Hritz and Tristan Debrunner.

Consider supporting the Mines Tiny House team as they prepare to compete in the Solar Decathlon. Visit their website for more information.

 

 

 

Contact:

Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 | kmorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | kgilbert@mines.edu

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Engineering