Research

Water-Energy Education for the Next Generation, a Colorado School of Mines Research Experience for Teachers sponsored by the National Science Foundation, kicked off its first summer training with nine teachers from Colorado public schools. The six-week summer program focused on impacting K-12 STEM curricula by infusing standards-based, active-learning lessons with current research in the water-energy nexus.

                                 

Left to Right: Stephanie Spiris, Melissa McVey, Professor Timothy Strathmann, Renee Adams-Lee, Associate Professor Chris Higgins, Jill-Maria Kuzava, Assistant Professor Chris Bellona, Patricia Brandenburger, Professor Terri Hogue, WE²ST Education & Outreach Specialist Amy Martin, Shannon Garvin, Associate Professor Josh Sharp, Research Assistant Professor Andrea Blaine, Research Associate Cassandra Glenn, Liz Hudd, Julie McLean, Professor Tzahi Cath, and Amy Dehne

Participants shared what they learned and how they would apply it in their classrooms in culminating presentations July 22. Melissa McVey, a sixth-grade science teacher at Bell Middle School in Golden, credited the faculty and graduate students she worked with for new ideas on how to incorporate lessons on biomagnification and contaminants. She plans to have her students study how plants can improve water quality, and ultimately design and create their own mini-wetland.

                                       
Melissa McVey shares insights gathered during her summer research experience at Mines.

Patricia Brandenburger, an eighth-grade STEM teacher at Deer Creek Middle School in Littleton, was similarly enthusiastic about the program, saying, “I learned a lot about hydrology, geology and geochemistry, which has made me rethink the way I want to teach our energy transformation unit.”

WE²NG is an outreach component of the ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE²ST, led by Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Terri Hogue and Research Assistant Professor Andrea Blaine. The program included technical, professional and pedagogical training, as well as weekly field trips to connect teachers with industry contacts. WE²NG will continue collaborative relationships with the teacher participants throughout the academic year.

Blaine hopes to see the program evolve and include even more local teachers next summer. “This first cohort of teachers has set the bar high,” said Blaine.  She also expressed her hope that the collaboration between K-12 teachers, Mines faculty and industry leaders will change the way STEM education is delivered. Blaine added, “I believe that a systemic, sustained method of bringing real and exciting science problems into the classroom could revolutionize the way the next generation of scientists addresses critical issues.”

 

Contact:

Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-383-2622 | ramirez@mines.edu

Reed MaxwellGroundbreaking research on global water supply co-authored by Colorado School of Mines Hydrology Professor Reed Maxwell and alumna Laura Condon, now assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Syracuse University, appears in the July 22 issue of Science Magazine.

The paper, “Connections between groundwater flow and transportation partitioning”, tackles the issue of global freshwater supply by taking a unique approach in quantifying the water that plants release into the atmosphere through a process called transpiration in conjunction with evaporation of water from the soil. “Understanding how much fresh water we have on Earth seems like it should be an easy problem, but it’s not,” said Maxwell. “Since evaporation and transpiration often produce more water than surface flow from streams and rivers, this makes them very important for a fundamental understanding of seemingly basic questions like water flow”.

Maxwell and Condon’s model is unique because it integrates processes not often captured in existing water models, particularly the movement of water through the earth’s subsurface, i.e. lateral groundwater flow, which can be contributed to both evaporation and transpiration. Through computer simulations of water flow across the continental US, the team found a significant increase in water supply from transpiration when including lateral groundwater flow. “This is one of our biggest findings”, said Maxwell. “We see that disconnecting the groundwater movement from the simulation has a critical effect on matching other estimates of transpiration values.”

traditional land surface models vs. integrated hydrologic models

This conceptual diagram compares two approaches for modeling water movement above and below the land surface. Traditional land surface models simplify the system by solving it as a set of discrete columns without lateral groundwater flow while integrated hydrologic models connect three dimensional flow in the subsurface with processes at the land surface. Credit: Laura Condon, Syracuse, Mary Michael Forrester and Reed Maxwell, Colorado School of Mines

The study’s findings are paving the way for better global water models, which will greatly improve how scientists understand freshwater flows at continental scales. Groundwater flow seems to be the missing link in reconciling observations of plants’ water usage with computer simulations, and may allow scientists to move towards a better understanding of how much freshwater is present on Earth.

 
Funding
This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research and Office of Advanced Scientific Computing through the IDEAS project. Simulations made possible through support from Yellowstone at the National Center for Atmospheric Research Computational and Information Systems Laboratory.
 
Publication
R. M. Maxwell, L. E. Condon (2016) “Connections Between Groundwater Flow and Transpiration Partitioning.” Science, 353, 6297, 377-380  DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf7891
 
 
Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
 

 

Mines has received $2.1 million from the Department of Energy to fund three projects led by faculty in the interdisciplinary Nuclear Science and Engineering Program.

Mark Jensen

Jensen

Mark Jensen

Grandey Chair in Nuclear Science and Engineering, Chemistry Professor

Jensen has been awarded $800K from the DOE’s Nuclear Energy University Programs to identify and overcome kinetic barriers to separating the transuranic actinide elements americium and curium from fission product lanthanides.

Lowering the transuranic content of nuclear waste would increase the capacity of waste repositories. Although new separation processes that can remove americium and curium are under development, they are often too slow to be efficient and cost-effective. Jensen is working with Chemistry Assistant Professor Shubham Vyas and Artem Gelis, a chemist at Argonne National Laboratory, to understand and overcome the kinetic bottlenecks that slow down an important new extraction process known as ALSEP.

 
Mark Deinert

Deinert

Mark Deinert

Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor

Deinert has been awarded $800K through NEUP to develop an intuitive web-based tool that will allow technical and non-technical audiences to compare different energy generation options—nuclear, solar, wind, natural gas, coal, and biomass systems—by their cost, carbon intensity, land and water use, capacity, and reliability. Users will also be able to combine nuclear options with specific back-end fuel cycle options such as onsite storage, geological disposal, or reprocessing.

An application programming interface, or API, will also be developed to allow third-party developers to build custom tools for education, nonprofit use, or policy analysis. Deinert’s team also includes postdoctoral researcher Andrew Osborne and Tim Kaiser, director of research and high-performance computing at Mines.
 

 
Jeffrey King

King

Douglas Van Bossuyt

Van Bossuyt

Jeffrey King

Metallurgical and Materials Engineering Associate Professor

Douglas Van Bossuyt

Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor

King and co-PI Van Bossuyt have been awarded $500K through NEUP and DOE’s Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program, in conjunction with DOE’s Nuclear Science User Facilities. The award includes $2M budgeted to Idaho National Laboratory to support the project, with irradiation and post-irradiation examinations using the lab’s Advanced Test Reactor.

The project will study how stainless steel and Inconel alloys, produced using a range of additive manufacturing techniques, perform when irradiated. The team will collect and measure specimens for tensile and yield strength, elasticity, ductility, thermal conductivity and thermal diffusivity. A subset of the specimens will be irradiated at the Advanced Test Reactor, and another subset will be thermally aged at Mines. Both sets of samples will again be subjected to thermo-mechanical testing and micro-structural characterization and the results compared to determine the changes caused by irradiation.

Additive manufacturing offers the potential to significantly enhance the production of nuclear components and fuels; however, there is relatively little information on the performance of additively manufactured parts during irradiation in a nuclear reactor environment. This study will offer insight into the viability of additively manufactured parts for nuclear reactor applications, identify key areas of concern, and provide data for future computational model development.
 

Contact:
Mark Ramirez, Information Specialist, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-383-2622 | ramirez@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).

Mines student Paige Bowling is one of 22 women running for the title of Miss Colorado June 9-11. She is pursuing degrees in chemical and biochemical engineering, and biochemistry. Bowling chose the competition as a way to raise scholarship funds for the extra year she will be attending Mines to complete both degrees.

At Mines, Bowling serves as the marketing director and regional officer (for the 20 sections) in the Society of Women in Engineering, and will be running under the platform of women in science and engineering for Miss Colorado.

“There is a very common stigma about women who chose to follow a career path in anything science or engineering related which perpetuates gender inequalities,” said Bowling. “If you ask a young girl what she wants to be when she grows up, over time many girls will shift their focus from grand career paths to something based upon gender-normative stereotypes. My ultimate goal is to not only promote young girls to continue on a path focused on math and science, but to also promote education to everyone. To do this, I hope to expand the current science and engineering resources available to schools for everyone, but especially young girls.”

Since she was a freshman, Bowling has been working with professor Brian Trewyn to synthesize mesoporous silica (MCM-141) for chemotherapy research and new fluorine imaging techniques to be used at hospitals within the next five years. Bowling also works as a Mines Help Desk operator, after taking over the role from her brother, Garrett, who graduated from Mines in December 2014 with a mechanical engineering specialty degree. She is a certified personal trainer at the Student Recreation Center and a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

This week, Bowling will have an interview before competing in the evening gown, swimsuit and 90-second talent portions of the competition. While most of the women will be doing music or dance routines, Bowling’s talent will be poi spinning. Poi is a performance art and typically involves swinging objects that have various rhythmical and geometric patterns. In a dark room, Bowling will be spinning LED lights that change color every 10 seconds.

Miss Colorado is a scholarship organization and women must be currently a Colorado resident and enrolled at a university. If Bowling wins the Miss Colorado title on Saturday, she will advance to compete in the Miss America competition in September. To support Bowling, follow her Facebook page. The deadline to vote for Bowling as the People’s Choice Vote is June 10.

 

Contact:

Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 | kmorton@mines.edu
Jake Kupiec, Executive Director of Communications and Marketing, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3067 | kupiec@mines.edu

 

GOLDEN, CO, June 8, 2016 —Applied Mathematics and Statistics Assistant Professor Stephen Pankavich has received a three-year research grant from the National Science Foundation for $233,775 to develop new analytical and computational methods of solving mathematical problems in the kinetic theory of plasma dynamics.

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

 

The Colorado School of Mines Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science celebrated the grand opening of “The Outlet,” a student-run lab where students can work on personal projects, finish lab experiments outside of class, or meet to work on group assignments.

Alan Barsophy, chief technical officer for ArcelorMittal USA, did the official ribbon cutting on April 27, 2016, to welcome student to their new lab space in Brown 146. ArcelorMittal was a significant donor in the creation of the lab, with Rohde & Schwarz and Ricoh also donating equipment.

“The lab can meet any electrical hardware needs that a student may have,” explained Teaching Associate Professor Stephanie Claussen. “In addition to the comfy chairs and social area, it has oscilloscopes, power meters, signal generators and a collection of components.”

The idea for the student-centered lab was originally proposed by Associate Professor Marcelo Simoes in 2014. Faculty from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) worked closely with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) student branch at Mines in securing space, equipment, and industry support.

Current IEEE student president Emma Watson said, "The Outlet has turned out better than I could have imagined. Everyone on the student committee did an amazing job putting it together, from designing the logo, to painting, and so much more. I'd like to thank Ryan Patton, Kevin Lannan, Briana Farris, Josh Nelson, and Ben Holland for all the time and hard work they put in to making he Outlet an amazing success."

According to Atef Elsherbeni, EECS interim department head, the new lab is a great addition to variety of labs within EECS. “We are fortunate to have a variety of undergraduate and graduate labs which we continuously upgrade to meet recent technological advances,” said Elsherbeni. “We see our students spending many hours in these labs, which complement what they learn in the traditional classroom.”

The Outlet is the latest in the continuing expansion of student Maker Spaces within the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences. The lab is designed to be open 24/7 to all students with Blastercard access. Students can receive access by signing the user agreement on the EECS student portal on Blackboard. It is being managed by both student and faculty advisory committees.

See more photos from the grand opening here.

 

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

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