April 2013 eNotes

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Concrete Canoe Team Joins in ASCE Conference

Civil engineers race canoes, build bridges

Students Travel Far on Little Fuel in Eco-Marathon

CU team logs 1,287 mpg with eco-car

Students Travel Far on Little Fuel in Eco-Marathon

CU Engineering students placed 6th in the gasoline division at the Shell Eco-Marathon of the Americas in Houston, April 5-7, edging out Cal Poly, Colorado School of Mines, University of Michigan, and numerous other top-ranked schools. It was the CU team’s second best finish in the six years it has competed in the event.

The competition challenges students to design, build, and drive the most energy-efficient car. The CU team achieved a best mileage score of 1,287 mpg in the race.

"The first day of competition (Saturday) was pretty successful as we got four runs in achieving our highest mileage on the third. But Sunday was the type of day where anything that could go wrong did," said mechanical engineering senior Austin Schipper. "We have achieved higher mileages at our test track in Colorado and we know the vehicle is capable of much higher mileages than we achieved."

Students Kelsey Spurr, Kyle Jacques, Richard Viehdorfer, and Ben Fuoss were also part of this year’s Eco-Marathon team. Paul Sweazey from last year’s team returned as driver, while Greg Potts and Marcelo Bergquist continued their service as faculty advisors.

“They have done a ton of great things to the car this year and have been an awesome team to work with,” Potts said. Modifications included reducing the weight of the vehicle with a carbon fiber sub-frame, improving the driver controls, and modifying the motor to achieve 1.5 times its factory power output.

"It will be very exciting to see what future teams can do with the incredible toolbox we developed for this vehicle during the 2012-13 year," Schipper said.

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Concrete Canoe Team Joins in ASCE Conference

steelbridge_2013_sm_0.jpgThe CU student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers is getting back in the swing with the revival of its concrete canoe team, and the return of its steel bridge team for its second year at the ASCE Rocky Mountain Student Conference. The conference was held April 4-6 at Utah State University.

“We received some wonderful compliments from the judges who said we had one of the best canoes they have ever seen constructed by a team entering the event for their first year. We have an exceptional team, and nearly all of us are still going to be here next year to improve our design,” said team captain Travis Marcilla, a BS/MS student in structural engineering.

While the canoe teams raced around the lake, the steel bridge teams erected model bridges in the fieldhouse. The CU bridge team performed spectacularly with its fastest build yet at 29 minutes, 20 seconds.

“We passed the safety tests which disqualified last year's bridge, and were allowed to load,” said team captain Erik Bergal, who is majoring in applied math. “The 17-foot span deflected only 1.2 inches under an initial load of 1,500 pounds and held up to a final loading of nearly 2,400 pounds before stopping for safety concerns.”

The students hope to continue growing CU-Boulder's ASCE chapter leading up to their scheduled hosting of the Rocky Mountain Student Conference in 2016.

Pictured above with the canoe are students (back row) Christina Jones, Jonny Ernster, Sean O'Grady, Travis Marcilla, Taylor Winkel, and Sage Springer, and (front row) Kelli Bradley, Julia Carroll, and Matthew Kincaid.

At right, on their steel bridge, are Evan Chan, Bruce Hall, Henry Hamamji, Erik Bergal, Tyler Hunt, Brian Dickinson, Julia Traylor (sitting), Natasha Funk, Carl Dewey, Will Beckman, and Daryn Hobbs.

Team Investigates Fire Impact on Water Quality

A research team in civil, environmental, and architectural engineering is investigating the long-term impacts that forest fires, such as last summer’s High Park Fire west of Fort Collins, may have on water quality in Colorado.

The team, led by assistant professor Fernando Rosario-Ortiz, working with professor Scott Summers, graduate student Amanda Hohner, and Jeffrey Writer from the U.S. Geological Survey, is sampling water this spring and summer from various locations along the Cache La Poudre River, including sites upstream of the burned area.

Primary sampling was conducted after the fire was extinguished and is being expanded this spring and summer to capture the flush of debris from the wildfire. Source water quality, nutrients, and dissolved organic matter will all be evaluated. In addition, bench scale tests will be conducted to better understand the impacts of the fire on treatment processes. 

The Cache La Poudre watershed provides drinking water for three water districts in Northern Colorado, including the city of Fort Collins. The ultimate goal of the research is to provide information to environmental agencies that will assist local communities in sustaining their drinking water sources. 

Honors & Awards: April 2013

Congratulations to the following individuals on their outstanding achievements:


Kristi Anseth of chemical and biological engineering was selected to receive CU-Boulder’s Hazel Barnes Prize for her outstanding record as both a teacher and researcher. The award comes with a monetary prize of $20,000, and will be presented at spring commencement.

Scot Douglass of the Herbst Humanities and Engineering Honors programs was selected as a CU President’s Teaching Scholar.

Derek Reamon of mechanical engineering was selected to receive the John & Mercedes Peebles Innovation in Education Award from the college.

Raphael Piestun of electrical, computer, and energy engineering, and Al Weimer of chemical and biological engineering received Dean’s Faculty Fellowships for next year (in addition to those listed in last month’s edition).

Moncef Krarti of civil, environmental, and architectural engineering was named New Inventor of the Year by CU’s Technology Transfer Office.

The Boulder Faculty Assembly selected the following engineering faculty for its 2012-13 Excellence Awards.

  • BFA Excellence in Teaching: Christine Hrenya of chemical and biological engineering and Dragan Maksimovic of electrical, computer, and energy engineering
  • BFA Excellence in Research: Kristine Larson of aerospace engineering sciences and Karl Linden of civil, environmental, and architectural engineering
  • BFA Excellence in Service: Janet deGrazia of chemical and biological engineering

CU’s Technology Transfer Office selected the following engineering faculty among its annual awards:

  • Moncef Krarti of civil, environmental, and architectural engineering was named New Inventor of the Year.
  • LineRate Systems, a company founded by computer science doctoral students John Giacomoni and Manish Vachharajani, was Company of the Year.
  • Tom Cathey of electrical, computer, and energy engineering was inducted into the “Pinnacles of Inventorship,” an all-star group showing continuous commitment to best practices in technology transfer.

Tom Cathey also was selected to receive the 2013 Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize of the Optical Society of America “for seminal contributions to the field of computational optical imaging and its commercial application.”

John McCartney of civil, environmental, and architectural engineering was selected to receive the President’s Leadership Award from the American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM) International.

Christine Hrenya of chemical and biological engineering was appointed an editor for the journal Aerosol Science and Technology.

Michael Lightner of electrical, computer, and energy engineering was elected to the ABET Executive Committee as Secretary of the Board.


Deb Mellblom from aerospace engineering sciences was selected to receive the Employee Recognition Award for March.


Brittany Earle and Jeni Sorli of chemical and biological engineering, and Mike Lotto of aerospace engineering sciences, have been selected to receive the prestigious national Goldwater Scholarship. The scholarships are worth up to $7,500 for educational expenses each year.

Distinguished Seniors chosen by the departments for recognition at the April 26 Engineering Awards Banquet are:

  • Kyle Kemble, aerospace engineering
  • Nicole Look, applied mathematics
  • Jordan Hornback, architectural engineering
  • Brandon Lin, chemical engineering
  • Benjamin Mead, chemical and biological engineering
  • Analee Collins, civil engineering
  • Samuel Pottinger, compuer science
  • Armeen Taeb, electrical engineering
  • Christopher Corey, electrical and computer engineering
  • Matthew Storm Bull, engineering physics
  • Holly Atkinson, environmental engineering
  • Derek Lattimore, mechanical engineering

The ME Design Center Colorado NREL Senior Design team comprised of Faith Batrack, Eli Kuhlmann, Adam Lokar, Coulter Polhman, and Charlie Wheeler won the Best Undergraduate and Best Overall poster awards for their senior design project at the CU Energy Club Energy Frontiers Poster Session April 4. The students are developing a piece of test equipment to help solve a problem in wind turbine technology for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory with advisor Paul Ibanez.

Important Announcements

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

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