July 2011 eNotes

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CU-Boulder Shares Rich History with Space Shuttle Program

From astronauts to science payloads

Faculty, Students Monitor Mercury in Southwest Colorado

Project led by CU Professor Joe Ryan

CU-Boulder Shares Rich History with Space Shuttle Program

With the final launch of Atlantis marking the end of the space shuttle program in July, CU-Boulder will look back at a rich, 30-year relationship that involved numerous alumni, faculty, and students from the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Of the 19 astronaut-affiliates from CU ― 18 from CU-Boulder and one from CU-Colorado Springs ― 16 flew on a total of 40 NASA space shuttle missions. The two who flew the most shuttle missions were Jim Voss (MS AeroEngr'74), a current scholar in residence, and Marsha Ivins (AeroEngr'73), who both flew five times.

CU-Boulder also has flown dozens of science payloads on NASA's 135 space shuttle missions. BioServe Space Technologies, a NASA-funded center in the aerospace engineering sciences department, has launched experiments on board space shuttles 39 times since 1991, using the low gravity of Earth orbit as a testing ground for a variety of agricultural, biomedical, and educational payloads.

CU also flew experiments targeting the mechanics of granular material three times on space shuttles -- in 1996, 1997 and 2003 -- led by Stein Sture of civil, environmental and architectural engineering, now CU-Boulder's vice chancellor for research. The tests allowed scientists to observe the behavior and cohesiveness of granular materials in microgravity and have led to a better understanding of how Earth's surface responds during earthquakes and landslides.

Three shuttle payloads also were designed, built, and flown by students from the Colorado Space Grant Consortium headquartered in the college. The payloads were flown in 1993, 1994 and 1997, and were dubbed ESCAPE, ESCAPE-1, and DATA-CHASER. >>Read more

Faculty, Students Monitor Mercury in Southwest Colorado

Students from Fort Lewis College in Durango joined CU-Boulder environmental engineering students in field work this summer aimed at understanding the behavior of toxic mercury in Southwest Colorado. The project is being led by CU Professor Joe Ryan in collaboration with Chris Peltz of the Mountain Studies Institute.

Coal-fired power plants are the likely source of the mercury, but it is believed that high-intensity wildfires can release the mercury that is otherwise bound in the soil and further contribute to its polluting of reservoirs in the region.

The team is taking both lake and soil samples to combine with monitoring of airborne mercury. The work started with a small grant from the CU Outreach Program in 2008, which was followed by a major grant from the National Science Foundation.

>Read more

Aerospace Students Take First in RASC-AL Competition

An aerospace engineering senior project team took first place at the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts-Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) conference in Cocoa Beach, Florida, June 6-8, with its entry, "Junk Hunter: Autonomous Rendezvous, Capture, and De-Orbit of Orbital Debris."

Eighteen competing teams presented their concepts to a panel of NASA and industry leaders at the forum, including 14 undergraduate and four graduate teams. The CU undergraduate team was advised by Donna Gerren.

RASC-AL was formed to provide university-level engineering students the opportunity to design projects based on NASA engineering challenges as well as offer NASA access to new research and design projects by students. Both industry and NASA representatives attended and judged the entries. >> Read more

Honors & Awards: July 2011

Congratulations to the following individuals on their outstanding achievements:


  • Chris Bowman of chemical and biological engineering has been selected to receive the Professional Progress Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
  • Rich Noble of chemical and biological engineering has been selected to receive the 2011 Clarence G. Gerhold Award from the Separations Division of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
  • Ryan Gill of chemical and biological engineering and Dejan Filipovic of electrical, computer, and energy engineering were selected for Provost's Faculty Achievement Awards.
  • Bob Erickson of electrical, computer, and energy engineering, Gregor Henzeof civil, environmental, and architectural engineering; and Al Weimer of chemical and biological engineering were recently recognized as "Research Rock Stars" by the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association, and featured in ColoradoBiz magazine along with researchers from the Colorado School of Mines and Colorado State University. Tigon EnerTec, founded last year based on work by a CU-Boulder team led by Jean Koster of aerospace engineering sciences, was also featured as Tech Startup of the month. 


  • Fiona Dunne, a graduate student in electrical, computer, and energy engineering working with Lucy Pao, received the Rudd Mayer Memorial Fellowship and was recognized at the American Wind Energy Association WINDPOWER 2011 Conference in Anaheim, California, in May.
  • Bruce Davis and Andrew Tomcheck, graduate students in aerospace engineering sciences, won awards at the first International Conference on Phononic Crystals, Metamaterials and Optomechanics, in Santa Fe, NM, in June. Both students are advised by Mahmoud Hussein. Davis won first place for best oral presentation, and Tomchek won second place for best poster presentation.
  • Jill Tombasco of aerospace engineering sciences won the Orville and Wilbur Wright Graduate Award, and Matthew Cannella and Bruce Davis won AIAA Graduate Awards.
  • Kyle Berger, a graduate student in chemical and biological engineering working with Christine Hrenya, has been awarded a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship for his research on "Prediction of Regolith Ejection during Extraterrestrial Landings."
  • Daan Stevenson, a graduate student in aerospace engineering sciences working with Hanspeter Schaub, was awarded NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship for his proposal entitled "Reduced Order Electrostatic Force Field Modeling of 3D Spacecraft Shapes."
  • Dan Guerrant, a graduate student in aerospace engineering sciences working with Dale Lawrence, has received a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship for his research on "Performance Quantification of Solar Sail Heliogyros for Planetary and Interplanetary Missions Using Multi-Scale Dynamics and Control Analysis."

New Faculty & Staff: July 2011

Welcome to the following new faculty and staff in the college:

  • Kendra Locker, Administrative Assistant, Engineering Management
  • Ann Greco, Laboratory Coordinator, Chemical and Biological Engineering
  • Lia Matthews, Academic Coordinator, Colorado Space Grant Consortium

Important Announcements

CUEngineering:  A publication for alumni and friends. Read the 2016 edition of CUEngineering magazine here.

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