Alumni Newsletter - Fall 2009

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Astronaut Jim Voss joins CU Aerospace Faculty

Bringing a wealth of hands-on experience

CU Researchers to Build Next-Gen Technology for Emergency Response

Social media in disaster communications

Astronaut Jim Voss joins CU Aerospace Faculty

CU alumnus Jim Voss has become the second astronaut to join the aerospace engineering sciences department following his NASA career. Voss, whose career has included five spaceflights, four spacewalks, and 202 total days in space, joins fellow astronaut Joe Tanner, who came to CU-Boulder as a senior instructor last year.

“I hope to help inspire the next generation of space explorers,” said Voss, who earned his master's degree in aerospace engineering at CU-Boulder in 1974 and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2000. He holds the Roubos Endowed Chair in Engineering, which is supported by a gift from CU-Boulder alumni Gary and Terie Roubos. He also will serve as an ambassador for CU, speaking at local events and promoting the college and campus.

“Jim brings a wealth of hands-on experience that will benefit both the educational and research missions of our university,” said Dean Robert Davis. “It is a privilege to have him on our faculty.”

Voss was a U.S. Army flight test engineer before he went to work at NASA's Johnson Space Center in 1984. He was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1987, after which he trained for Space Shuttle flights and as a back-up crew member to the Russian space station Mir. His first spaceflight came in 1991, and he flew again in 1992, 1995, 2000, and 2001. During 2001, Voss lived on board the International Space Station for 163 days as a member of the Expedition2 crew.

At CU Voss will teach a new undergraduate course, “Introduction to Human Space Flight,” mentor graduate student projects in the area of human space flight, and help to develop the department's graduate program in bioastronautics.

CU Researchers to Build Next-Gen Technology for Emergency Response

Assistant Professor Leysia Palen has conducted extensive research on people's use of social networking sites such as Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook during disasters ranging from hurricanes to wildfires. Now, a nearly $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation will help take her group’s leading-edge investigations to the next level.

The new grant is aimed at developing a suite of specialized mobile and Web applications that will integrate information from multiple social media sources to help users assess the context, validity, source, credibility, and timeliness of the information generated by citizens during emergencies.

Palen will work with her colleagues in the computer science department to develop tools that make the information posted by citizens more accessible, comprehensible, and trustworthy to help people make safe decisions and coordinate with family, neighbors, and officials during times of crisis.

“When situations are dire, and the magnitude of an emergency affects a region, we know that people are quite resourceful at doing what they can to survive and to help others,” Palen said. “Today this means turning to online sources to collate information from many places to try to make the best decisions possible.”
Palen also will collaborate on the project with a colleague at the University of California Irvine, a social media aggregation company in Boulder called Collective Intellect, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

>> Learn more

CU Student Studying Alternatives to Burning Coal in China

Civil engineering graduate student Abby Watrous is on her second year-long visit to China, tracking a contributing factor to one of the world’s worst environmental problems.

The fourth-generation engineer from New Jersey was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for the 2009-10 academic year to develop hands-on teaching modules on renewable energy for Chinese and American elementary students, while researching alternatives to coal for cooking and heating in rural China.

China is the world’s top producer and consumer of coal. In addition to generating about 75 percent of the country’s electricity, coal is burned in home stoves, especially in rural areas where almost 700 million people live. Cheap and abundant, coal exacts a heavy toll on human health and the environment with its high levels of carbon dioxide emissions.

“I’m looking at the data on what people are burning, what kind of stoves they use, and how much energy they’re using,” Watrous said. “On a small scale the coal fumes are not healthy for the women and their children. On a larger scale the fumes are affecting climate change.”

Watrous, who has taught Colorado youngsters about engineering as a National Science Foundation graduate fellow for two years, also has written an instructional booklet on renewable energy for English and Chinese elementary students titled Let’s Explore Energy.

>> Learn More

Fall 2009 Classnotes

Stephen Achtenhagen (MechEngr’52) recently celebrated his 80th birthday. A professor emeritus of business, he retired from San Jose State University in Palo Alto, California, and serves on two non-profit boards.

Dale Johnson (MechEngr’56) is a self-employed consulting engineer in Boulder. He also serves on the board of directors of the Spaceweek International Association and on the advisory board to the CU College of Music.

Ramesh Kumar Mital (MechEngr’60) is retired as the general manager of Mecon Ltd., an engineering consulting business, and lives in Delhi, India. He hopes to get in touch with some old friends from his days at CU-Boulder.

Stanley Carper (CivEngr/Bus’63) is a construction manager for Leo A. Daly in Bountiful, Utah, and has been working on a small island in the South Pacific called Yap, where he is in charge of rebuilding the airport parking apron. In November, he expects to return to Utah, where he also works as a ski instructor at Snowbird.

JoAnn Joselyn (ApMath’65, MS Astro’67, PhD‘78) was honored as one of five outstanding “Women Who Light the Community” by the Boulder Chamber of Commerce. She is the first woman to earn a doctoral degree at CU in astro-geophysics, and she co-founded in 1972 the Boulder-based Share-a-Gift program, which has helped thousands of children each year to have a gift-filled Christmas.

Daryl Boden (AeroEngr’72), a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, has been recognized by Cambridge Who’s Who for his 20 years as an educator in astrodynamics.

Keith Bechard (ElecEngr’74) has been elected to the board of directors of Entropic Communications, bringing extensive technical expertise in interactive television services, HDTV, and service provider deployment.

Glenn Wilson (ElecEngr’77) was appointed director of Front Range Community College’s new Clean Energy Technology program. He is a former plant manager at Anheuser-Busch’s brewery in Fort Collins.

Paul Lundstrom (ArchEngr’79) recently returned to Colorado to the Advanced Programs office of Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems division in Littleton.

Robert Refvem (ArchEngr’77) was elected president of the board of directors of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado. He has been a principal at Felsburg Holt & Ullevig for 15 years, and has served as project manager for many roadway and bridge projects throughout Colorado.

Robert Muhn (EngrDes&EconEval ’78) was named general manager of sales at SoloPower, a California-based manufacturer of thin-film solar photovoltaic cells and modules. The company is headquartered in San Jose.

Scott Kempshall (Mech Engr’79) joined Aerosonic Corp. in Clearwater, Florida, as its vice president for technology and product development.

Charles Dutch (ElecEngr’81) was named director of Boeing’s Heath, Ohio facility, where he leads the operation of ICBM and aircraft systems depot-level repair. He joined Boeing in 1986.

Russell Brown (MechEngr’82) was named print head product manager for China for Fujifilm Dimatix.
Todd Fink (ChemEngr’83) is the president of Therafin Corp., in Orland Park, Illinois. The company designs, manufactures, and distributes rehabilitation devices and wheelchair accessories.

Rob Engle (ElecEngr/CompSci’88) opened the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers annual conference and expo at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel in October. He is a senior stereographer and 3D visual effects supervisor at Sony Pictures’ Imageworks.

Sue Ericksen (MS CompSci’95) joined the New York Life Insurance Co. as chief technology officer and senior vice president of the corporate information department. New York Life is the largest mutual life insurance company in the United States.

Paul Westerhoff (PhD CivEngr’95) was appointed to a three-year term on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board. He is the interim director of the School of Sustainability and the Built Environment at Arizona State University.

Hosea Rosenberg (EngrPhys’97), who won the fifth season of Bravo’s Top Chef competition earlier this year, was selected to serve as grand marshal of CU-Boulder’s Oct. 31 homecoming parade. He is the head chef at Jax Fish House in Boulder.

Jean-Francois Debroux (MS CivEngr’96, PhD’98) was named director of Kennedy/Jenks Consultants’ advanced technologies group. He has been with the firm for nine years.

Jennifer (Shull) Bixler (ChemEngr‘98) and her husband Brett celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary this year in Estes Park. She works as a project manager at MedImmune in Baltimore, Maryland.

Rachel Friedman (CivEngr’99) was hired as the first-ever engineer on staff at the Town of Buena Vista, Colorado. She previously worked for the Santa Fe Public Works Department.

Jeremy Garcia (CompSci’03) was hired as a new account executive at Advanced Systems Group, a Denver-based IT consulting, integration, and project management firm.

Luis Hakim (MS ChemEngr’05, PhD’06) was selected to receive the Best PhD in Particle Technology Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers at its November 2009 meeting in Nashville.

Jonathan Fentzke (PhD AeroEngr’09) was awarded a CEDAR postdoctoral fellowship by the National Science Foundation.

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