News about
The University of Iowa College of Engineering
Week of August 24, 2014

E/WEEK College Staff:
Editor:  Wendy Brentner, director, alumni relations and communications
Contributing Writer:  Gary Galluzzo, University of Iowa News Services
Technical Consultant:  Susan Beckett, senior systems administrator
College Web Site:  www.engineering.uiowa.edu
E/WEEK Archives:  http://list.uiowa.edu/archives/eweek.html


1. Operator Performance Lab Holds Inaugural Open House and Barbeque
2. WindSTEP: Pilot Camp Takes Off in Iowa City
3. Summer Pre-Engineering Camp Attendance Booms Under New Infrastructure
4. UI Students, Alumni Attend Quad City Air Show
5. Hawkeye on Parade C(Herk)itry Wins Popularity Contest
6. Giving Students the Iowa Edge
7. College Events for the Coming Weeks
8. About E/WEEK


1. Operator Performance Lab Holds Inaugural Open House and Barbeque

The Operator Performance Laboratory (OPL), a unit of the UI Center for Computer-Aided Design, will hold its inaugural open house and barbeque at 6:00 p.m. August 28 at the OPL Hangar at the Iowa City Airport.

Those attending will learn about the lab and the many opportunities it has for students.  On display will be a Boeing 737 simulator, JSF simulator, MIj-2 Hoplite military helicopter, Beechcraft A-36 Bonanza, and Delfin L29 jet.

OPL conducts research for such prominent clients, including Rockwell Collins, Inc., US Department of Defense, and Northrop Grumman.

The open house will include tours of the laboratory, along with a complimentary barbeque, smoked on site by the award winning Blue-B-Que Competition BBQ team.  The barbeque will be served at 6:00 p.m. in the hangar during which time various presentations on the lab’s activities will be given.  College of Engineering students are especially encouraged to come to the lab and learn more about the exciting research being conducted at the lab.

Parking is available at the hangar.  Transportation to the lab is available by taking the Iowa City bus (Westport Route, leaves corner of Clinton and Washington Street at 5:30 p.m.  Fare is $1.)  The bus stops at the Iowa City Airport entrance.

Those planning to attend should RSVP to Dr. Joseph Engler at joseph-engler@uiowa.edu.

2. WindSTEP: Pilot Camp Takes Off in Iowa City

A new Iowa NSF EPSCoR summer day camp, modeled after a retired National Science Foundation program, was introduced to the University of Iowa this summer – and it looks like it’s here to stay.

Eighteen students from the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area took part in the inaugural Wind STEM Talent Expansion Program (WindSTEP), which challenged them to develop a model wind energy turbine system for Johnson County. The camp took place June 23-27 on the UI campus, with a visit to Kirkwood Community College.  The program was a joint collaboration between the UI College of Engineering and the Center for Diversity and Enrichment. The program was entitled, “Black Youth Achieving Excellence,” and targeted African American males in grades 8-9.

A second camp, planned for Native American Indian students from the Meskwaki Settlement School in Tama, unfortunately had to be canceled; however, Tracy Peterson, director of diversity programs and K-12 outreach for the UI College of Engineering, said that he will reach out to the Meskwaki Settlement School again next summer. Peterson will also look into possibly offering a residential – or overnight – camp, in which students would have the opportunity to stay in the dorms, eat meals in the dining halls, and spend more time on campus.

While Peterson led the camp, additional instructors included University of Iowa graduate assistants Jessica Rodriguez (geography) and Mary Nyaema (education). You can find a poster titled, “Assessing Impact of WindSTEP in Under-Represented Youth’s Attitudes and Beliefs Towards STEM,” presented by Rodriguez and Nyaema at the 2014 Iowa NSF EPSCoR Annual All-Hands Meeting, here.

Throughout the week, students learned to use ArcGIS software to determine the environmental, social, and physical influences on potential wind farm sites in Johnson County. At the end of the workshop, they presented their findings using PowerPoint.

Peterson said he noticed a greater level of maturity and confidence when the students presented versus on their arrival at camp. He also said the students picked up on the wind jargon used by presenters and professors and used it in their presentations. “I think overall the kids enjoyed it a lot,” Peterson said.

The students also learned about general renewable energy technologies and STEM-related careers. They visited the Kirkwood wind turbine technologies facilities, where David Bennett, energy production & distribution technologies instructor, told them all about the Kirkwood turbine.?

“What’s the hardest skill needed?” one student asked after the group had watched a time-lapse of the Kirkwood turbine assembly.

“Stepping out of a perfectly good turbine,” Bennet replied. While many technical skills are needed, Bennet stressed the courage and safety knowledge needed to climb such a tall feature and then be exposed to high winds and low temperatures. Students were taken through a wind turbine safety presentation, during which a few students suited up for a safe climb in an indoor practice tower shaft.

Other tours included visits to the Iowa Flood Center and UI Hydraulics Wind Tunnel Annex.

Although the educational benefits of the program were evident, WindSTEP was also an opportunity for underrepresented young students to have an experience on a university campus and be around role models who they can identify with. “It makes college seem like a possibility to them,” Peterson said.

After visiting Kirkwood, students were able to eat lunch with several Iowa NSF EPSCoR summer research interns. Andrew Christ, a returning summer research intern, said the two students he ate lunch with were very interested in talking about sports and math. “As a kid, it’s hard to say, ‘I like numbers,’” Christ said. “I think WindSTEP is an awesome thing to get kids into green energy at a young age.”

Near the end of the camp, students listened to a lecture presented by UI Executive Vice-President and Provost Barry Butler about the history of wind energy. Butler is also the leader of the Iowa NSF EPSCoR wind energy platform. Students were surprised to learn how old the concept of harnessing the wind for energy truly is. However, they were equally interested in how Butler managed to achieve such a high-paying job.

Butler talked about his own academic career and how he got to where he is today. “What you’re doing is challenging,” said Butler. “You have to work hard to get to the end of the race.”

3. Summer Pre-Engineering Camp Attendance Booms Under New Infrastructure

For six weeks, University of Iowa engineering classrooms became robot battlegrounds and obstacle courses for nearly 130 kids participating in the 2014 Summer Pre-Engineering Day Camps. This is the third year Iowa NSF EPSCoR has funded the summer camps at the UI, and—once again—they filled up fast.
Despite an extra five weeks offered this year, all slots were full by early April, said Tracy Peterson, director of diversity programs and K-12 outreach for the UI College of Engineering. This was the first summer Peterson organized the camps, as he recently joined the Iowa NSF EPSCoR team.

“Next year we’re looking to expand it even more,” Peterson said. While utilizing both morning and afternoon sessions increased participation, Peterson is looking to add several levels to each camp, as well as additional pilot camps in December and over spring break. At least 300 participants are anticipated for next summer, and Peterson hopes to offer more scholarships.

Three different camps have formed the base of the summer program, each catering to a certain age group: Lego Learners (grades 1-3), Lego Robotics (grades 4-6), and Tetrix Robotics (grades 7-9). The classes are restricted to about 10 kids, one instructor, and two mentors.

Jeremy Richardson, engineering coordinator for the UI Department of Biology, instructed Lego Robotics and Tetrix Robotics. He encouraged and joked with the students throughout his instruction. “It looks like I’m going to have to build the next challenge,” Richardson said to a Tetrix Robotics class. “I didn’t think anyone would get past this one.”

Participant Chad Johnson, Iowa City West High, was one of those students that succeeded in passing Richardson’s challenge.  Johnson commanded his robot, using code, to maneuver its way through wooden blocks and pick up objects with two metal arms.

Johnson is a returning participant and said he enjoys completing the various objectives and learning how to control the robots differently. “I would be here all night if I could,” Johnson said.

After assembling the kits, students used code to program light, ultrasonic, and touch sensors. Some could even personalize the robots with sounds and faces.
“It’s amazing to see what [the kids] can do in a week,” said Alicia Hoffmann, a recent UI graduate in chemical engineering. Hoffmann was one of several students or former students to assist in the camp instruction.

While the challenges naturally became more advanced at each grade level and even each day, all camps had the same goal in mind: to increase students’ interest in STEM learning and careers.

Iowa NSF EPSCoR summer research intern Barbara Newhall, a sophomore at the University of Iowa, participated in the data collection throughout the summer. She found that, for nearly every STEM-related question, student interest slightly increased and knowledge greatly increased after participating in the camp. “As the days went on, they became more interested,” Newhall said. “I hope that they’re as excited [about STEM] as they grow older, especially the girls.”

All three camps saw more male than female participants, even the youngest camp, Lego Learners, with 28 males and 18 females participating.  The discrepancy was most apparent among Tetrix Robotics (older) campers, with 15 males and five females participating. Newhall would like to see more females participate in next year’s program. She suggests advertising targeted toward young girls.

Participant Justice Veira, from the U.S. Virgin Islands, participated in a Tetrix Robotics class while visiting her mother in Iowa City. She has done day camps before, but this was her first time at the University of Iowa. “I just like to do robotics,” Veira said.
Bill Rashid, a UI junior in computer engineering, spent many afternoons with Veira’s Tetrix Robotics class. “It’s really fun to see kids get into it,” Rashid said. “They learn so much. They develop a passion for it.”

At the end of each week, students displayed their robot knowledge to their parents, competing in a “battlebot” arena or completing missions. While Peterson said they did not offer prizes, out of sportsmanship, each student did receive a T-shirt and bag of STEM-related materials.

To view Newhall's research poster highlighting the pre-engineering Lego day camps, click here.

4. UI Students, Alumni Attend Quad City Air Show

Seven UI students and alumni -- most of them from the College of Engineering -- stopped by to visit the college's exhibit at the Quad City Air Show August 9-10 at the Davenport, IA, Municipal Airport.  Hosting the group was Tom Schnell, associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering and director of the Operator Performance Laboratory (OPL).  Schnell and lab team members displayed the college's research jet, one of two L-29 Delfin aircraft used by OPL to study human-in-the-loop and intelligent autonomous systems to increase efficiency, inter-operability, and safety.

The group included Schnell; Kyle Salsbery (BSE 2011 industrial engineering); Mike Harris, mechanical engineering student; and Luke Rebik, biomedical engineering student; Grant Woodward (BSE 2011 industrial engineering); Nick Martin (BSE 2011 industrial engineering); Janet Torres (BA 2010 political science and Spanish); and Matt Harris (BSE 2011 industrial engineering).

The Quad City Airshow has been hosted at the Davenport Municipal Airport since 1987. It is in the top ten for the longest and best airshow in the U.S. The show has hosted all of the North American Military Demonstration Teams, and several International performers.

5. Hawkeye on Parade C(Herk)itry Wins Popularity Contest

Thousands of votes were cast in the Press-Citizen's online contest to choose your favorite Herky on Parade, and there is a winner.

C(Herk)itry, created by Jason Soliday, was the runaway winner in the final round, with 3,043 votes. Coming in a distant second was Marching Band Herky, with 1,470 votes.
Soliday, in his 21st year as an art specialist with Des Moines Public Schools at East High School, will receive a miniature set of all 83 Herky on Parade statues, courtesy of the Iowa City/Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The C(Herk)itry statue, which looks like a circuit motherboard albeit it one with a face, now adorns the Clinton Street entrance of the Old Capitol Town Center in Iowa City, thanks to the sponsorship of Dr. Kartik Reddy, son of Sudhakar Reddy, professor of electrical and computer engineering.

6. Giving Students the Iowa Edge
It’s important for students making the transition from high school to college to have the tools to achieve academic and personal success. This year, 100 students from underrepresented backgrounds had the chance to get “The Iowa Edge” before they started their educations as Hawkeyes.

From Aug. 17-20, participants in The Iowa Edge program experienced everything from team building exercises and presentations about campus life and resources, to tours and the opportunity to meet the University of Iowa faculty and leaders.
Of the 100 new students, 40 percent are African-American, 39 percent are Latino, 17 percent are multiracial, 2 percent are Asian-American and 2 percent are Caucasian. Fifty percent of the students are the first in their families to attend college, known as first-generation students.

“This program is a wonderful introduction to campus for students so they can benefit both academically and socially,” says Gabriela Rivera, multicultural specialist in the UI Center for Diversity and Enrichment. “They’re able to start building relationships early with their classmates and learn about resources available to assist in making the most of their time on campus and achieving their goals, including graduating in four years.”

The Iowa Edge program has been helping ease student concerns and ensuring a successful transition to the UI since 2006. It’s made possible through the Kevin and Donna Gruneich Charitable Foundation, with additional support from the Center for Diversity and Enrichment in the UI Chief Diversity Office. Kevin Gruneich is an Iowa alumnus who received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1980.

The program is coordinated by a committee of UI staff and faculty members representing seven colleges—including the Tippie College of Business, College of Education, College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Medicine, College of Nursing, and College of Pharmacy—as well as 12 offices and departments.


7. College Events for the Coming Weeks

August 25 – Classes begin

August 28 – Lunch and Learn Series, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 12:30-1:30 p.m., 3124 Seamans Center. Representatives from Deloitte, Accenture, KJWW, and others will discuss careers as a consultant. New this year are themed lunch and learns!  Meet with reps from not 1 but 5 engineering companies to hear about the world of consulting.  Accenture, Deloitte, KJWW Engineering, Pariveda Solutions and General Dynamics IT will be on the panel to give you different perspectives of business, engineering and IT consulting.  All students are invited to join us for free lunch and learn about the various opportunities that exist for engineers interested in consulting.  This will be a moderated panel rather than a traditional presentation.  Hear "what's a typical day like in the life of a consultant?", "what is the desired skill set for students looking to work in the field?", etc.  RSVP by noon on Wednesday, August 27th at http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c054badac2fa64-engineering2.  Following will be resume reviews by the companies in the 2nd Floor Lobby of the Seamans Center.  Bring a hard copy of your resume to gain advice from industry reps and have it perfected in time for the fair. 

August 28 – Electrical and Computer Engineering Professional Seminar, 5 p.m., 101 BCSB, Alex Broadsky (BSE 2012) technical consultant at Pariveda Solutions will be the speaker.

August 28 – Operator Performance Laboratory Inaugural Open House and Barbeque, 6:00 p.m., Operator Performance Laboratory Hangar, Iowa City Airport.  RSVP to Dr. Joseph Engler at joseph-engler@uiowa.edu.

September 1— University holiday.

September 4 – Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Professional Seminar, 5 p.m., 140 SH.  Rhett Livengood (BSE 1985) director of enterprise solution sales development, Intel, Santa Clara, CA will be the speaker.

September 4 – Continental Crossings Meeting, 6:30p.m., Stanley Auditorium, 1505 Seamans Center.  Come learn about the University of Iowa's chapter of Bridges to Prosperity. We endeavor to design and fund raise for a footbridge to be built by a group of seven students in Nicaragua during the summer. This meeting will introduce any new members to our mission and goals for the school year as well as share experiences from the recent bridge build in Cinta Verde, Nicaragua. To learn more, please visit our website at continentalcrossings.com! If you have any questions, please email Katie Langenfeld at kathryn-langenfeld@uiowa.edu.


8. About E/WEEK

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