“Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.” That’s a line from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It’s also the reality for thousands of people every year when disasters strike along coastlines and broken pipes and flooded infrastructure leave access to nothing but seawater. 

This past academic year, a team of undergraduate mechanical engineering students set their sights on providing clean, drinkable water during an emergency situation like this by turning seawater into ice.

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Joseph Agor, assistant professor of industrial engineering

Agor’s main research interest is in data driven optimization with applications in health care. More specifically, he is interested in using linear, integer, and multilevel optimization techniques to develop data driven decision support tools for decision makers in health care both at a system and patient level. He received his Ph.D. in Operations Research at North Carolina State University. Prior to joining Oregon State, he was research assistant for Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering where he worked on a National Science Foundation Smart and Connected Health funded project investigating patient progression in those susceptible to sepsis.

Bradley Camburn, assistant professor of mechanical engineering

Camburn’s work in design explores conceptual ideation, prototyping, and testing to support the embodiment of complex systems at low cost. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas in 2015 and his Bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University in 2008, both are in Mechanical Engineering. He then joined former Citibank executive Adam Gilmour as chief engineer, then later head of research and development at Gilmour Space Technologies. He led the research and development team at Gilmour to produce the world’s largest hydrogen peroxide oxidised hybrid rocket engine at 70 kilonewtons of thrust. This engine is believed to have set a record for shortest orbital class engine development program duration and lowest cost threshold. Camburn completed the engine qualification at Gilmour through Series B venture Capital funding, to receive in total $13.7 million. Before joining MIME at Oregon State, he also worked as a Research Scientist at the Singapore University of Technology of Design and Massachusetts Institute of Technology International Design Centre.

Andy Dong, professor of mechanical engineering (joining December 2019)

Dong researches the characteristics and attributes of the structures of designs and design processes and their causal relationship to design-led innovation. His background in artificial intelligence in design has also led him to collaborative work across a wide range of topics in behavioral economics, cognition, and computational fabrication. Previously, he was the Professor and Chair of the Graduate Design Strategy Program at California College of the Arts and an adjunct professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley where he also received his Ph.D.

OSU Overclocking provides students with real-world industry experience

Mechanical engineering student Alec Nordlund uses liquid nitrogen to cool a CPU.

Seeing frost form on your computer parts would usually be cause for alarm – but not for the members of OSU Overclockers. Frost is to be expected when the key ingredient of your cooling system is liquid nitrogen.

Overclocking, or pushing a computer’s processor past the manufacturer’s designed limits to achieve greater performance, introduces many challenges that cover various engineering disciplines. Key among them, not turning expensive components into melted junk.

Across the world, overclockers compete to build and run the fastest and coolest (literally) machines.

At Oregon State, this challenge has brought students from various major across the College of Engineering.

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Tim Weber
(Photo courtesy of HP.)

Tim Weber (’91 Ph.D., mechanical engineering) has been spearheading innovation at HP for more than 25 years. As global head of 3D metals for HP, he focuses on bringing mass production of printed metal parts to the $12 trillion global manufacturing industry for the first time.

One of HP’s early inkjet pioneers, he was part of the team responsible for product quality for the first thermal inkjet printers. He also managed the development of the scalable print solution that ultimately became HP’s PageWide technology, which is now used everywhere from the desktop to the factory floor.

Weber’s career includes numerous research and development innovations, such as printing technology platforms, microelectromechanical technologies (such as HP’s state-of-the-art accelerometer), applied molecular systems (nanotechnology), solar applications, printed electronics, and 3D thermoplastics and ceramics. He holds 52 U.S. patents. He credits his Oregon State education for providing “a strong engineering foundation and an approach to problem solving, which has helped me in business and technology development.”

Ken Funk

Thirty-nine years ago, Ken Funk traveled from one OSU (The Ohio State University) to another (Oregon State University). He’d just graduated with a doctorate in industrial and systems engineering, and headed west to start his appointment in the (then) Department of Industrial and General Engineering. He would eventually serve as the interim head of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering from 2005 to 2006 as it merged with the Department of Mechanical Engineering to become the School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering.

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At the heart of Oregon State University’s pursuit of excellence are faculty — scholars and educators who advance knowledge while teaching, challenging, and guiding students. These are the individuals in whom Oregon State’s mission lives and breathes.

Named faculty positions bring resources and prestige to Oregon State, allowing the university to recruit and retain the world’s foremost experts. The additional resources help build excellent programs and inspire faculty and the students around to thrive. In short, named faculty positions raise the university to a higher level of excellence.

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Burak Sencer receives Blackall Award.

Burak Sencer, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, was awarded the Blackall Machine Tool and Gage Award by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for his paper, “Frequency Optimal Feed Motion Planning in Computer Numerical Controlled Machine Tools for Vibration Avoidance.

The award recognizes the best original academic papers that have “resulted in a significant contribution to the manufacturing processes and systems for the design or application of machine tools, gauges, dimensional measuring instruments, or new manufacturing technologies and metrology approaches.”

Brian K. Paul, professor of manufacturing engineering, was elected to the SME College of Fellows.  

The honor recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions to the social, technological, and educational aspects of the manufacturing profession over 20 or more years of service.

“It is great to be recognized for my contributions to the manufacturing engineering community,” Paul said.

Paul teaches manufacturing process design and performs experimental and computational studies in materials joining, thin-film deposition, and hybrid additive manufacturing.

His collaborative publications on the scale-up of nanomaterial synthesis and deposition are on SME’s “Innovations That Could Change the Way You Manufacture” watch list. Paul has authored more than 110 refereed publications, received 12 U.S. patents (six licensed) and helped 15 companies advance micro and nanotechnologies toward the marketplace, four formed from work with his graduate students. Several of his joint patents established the core for a spin-out, which, in 2010 received the largest first-round venture capital funding in the history of Oregon. In 2013, Paul was invited to serve as the assistant director of technology within President Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office, to help devise a federal strategy to overcome industry impediments to manufacturing innovation, now known as Manufacturing USA. After his return to OSU, Paul helped establish the Rapid Advancement of Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID) Manufacturing Institute within Manufacturing USA where he is lead of the Module Manufacturing technology focus area.

In addition to SME, Paul is also a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

In June, MIME celebrated one of the largest and most diverse graduating classes in our school’s history, with over 400 undergraduates and 125 graduate students receiving degrees (according to preliminary numbers) . They join the now 200,000 Oregon State University alumni living and working around the world.

Harriet B. Nembhard, school head and Eric R. Smith Professor of Engineering, addressed more than 1,200 people in attendance at the MIME Graduation Celebration on June 15.

“As you look toward the future, I offer you two points of advice: invest in your connections to the world around you, and use your engineering credentials as a powerful platform to give voice to solutions that serve humanity.,” Nembhard said.”

Tabeel Jacob is a mechanical engineering doctoral student focusing on thermal fluid sciences. He is advised by Brian Fronk, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

By Tabeel Jacob

Have you ever heard of a “refrigerant?” It almost sounds like “refrigerator,” right? Well, if you thought they might be related, you’d be right! In fact, a wide range of our daily appliances and machinery – such as air conditioners, refrigerators, and automobiles – contain refrigerants. The refrigerants in these systems undergo a cycle of condensation and evaporation to absorb heat from the one location and release it at a different location. Doing so, provides the cooling effect that we humans have become quite reliant upon in the 21st century.

Refrigerants currently being used can be classified as Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs have favorable heat transfer properties. However, as numerous studies have confirmed that HFC emissions contribute to global warming, these refrigerants have fallen under scrutiny given their environmental impacts. To combat this, majority of the developing and developed countries, through international agreements, have agreed to reduce their use of HFC refrigerants by more than 80% over the next 30 years. Finding a viable alternative to HFC refrigerants is crucial for these plans to succeed.

An experimental facility designed and built by Tabeel to test the performance of new low global warming potential refrigerants.

In order to mitigate the impact of HFC while still being able operate daily heating and cooling equipment, mixtures of hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have been proposed as a potential alternative to pure HFCs. These HFC/HFO mixtures have significantly lower global warming potential (GWP), the measure of a gas’s contribution to the heating of the atmosphere. A higher GWP indicates an increased amount of heat trapped by the gas in atmosphere. For example, R404A is a widely used refrigerant with a GWP of 3922. It is set to be replaced by R448A, an HFC/HFO mixture with a GWP of 1273. That’s less than one-third of the GWP of R404A! Unfortunately, there is currently not enough experimental data available on the heat transfer capabilities, specifically condensation, of these newer refrigerants. This data is necessary to accurately design critical components in our daily appliances.

Previous studies on similar mixtures have reported decreased condensation performance as compared to their pure components at similar operating conditions. This occurs because theunderlying heat transfer mechanisms during condensation of mixtures differ significantly than those of pure refrigerants. Therefore, the appliances designed to use HFC/HFO mixtures may require different components than those developed for pure refrigerants. Motivated by the need to better understand the phase change process of HFC/HFO refrigerants and the need to reduce the impact on the environment, the focus of my doctoral research is to investigate the condensation heat transfer performance of low GWP refrigerant mixtures. An experimental facility designed specifically for this application will be used to test the performance of these new refrigerants. The experimental data will be used to introduce equations that can be used to design critical components for heating, cooling and refrigeration applications. The results of the study will be shared with industry and academics in order to further facilitate the adoption of low GWP refrigerants.

By Suresh Ramasamy

A majority of mobile robots that operate in the world around us either use wheels or legs for locomotion. The reason for this is the inherent simplicity of operation in the case of wheels and easy access to environments of societal interests like buildings, stores, and warehouses in the case of legs. These modes of locomotion generally perform poorly in environments with either heterogeneous ground or deformable substrates like sand, mud, and soil. The diversity of locomotion methods employed successfully by different animals in these harsh environments suggest alternative modes of locomotion are critical for robots to operate efficiently in these environments.

A major stumbling block while studying robots which employ novel methods of locomotion is that most strong results are limited by a set of assumptions (such as the quasi-static assumption, which is essentially assuming all the forces on the robot are always in balance) or are applicable to only a particular robot morphology (like bipeds or quadrupeds). The lack of a universal framework impedes comparison of different approaches to locomotion and hinders discovering fundamental principles that apply to all locomoting systems. One approach to developing a unifying framework to analyze, design and control robotic locomotion is to determine the normal form or a small set of normal forms of the equations of motion, that can capture the mechanics of a very large class of locomoting systems. With this goal in mind, a normal form of the equations that describe mechanics of locomotion when the interaction with the environment is described by a nonholonomic constraint (In locomotion analysis, a constraint is holonomic if it relates the shape of the robot to the position of the robot. All other types of constraints are classied as nonholonomic constraints.) was presented in [1]. My long term research goal is to develop, understand and use these normal forms to create frameworks that simplify locomotion analysis and help identify optimal locomotion strategies for robotic systems that employ novel methods of actuation.

For robots operating in a fluid, the origin of the drag force it experiences lies in the need to displace the particles of the fluidout of the way of a moving object. At low velocities, the movement of the fluid is smooth and the faster the object moves, the greater is the amount of fluid it has to displace. This leads to a linear relationship between the velocity of the robot and the drag force it experiences. This causes the equations of motion to take the form presented in [1]. The motion of paramecia-like vehicles (which move by an interaction of a periodically vibrating boundary and the fluid) can also be described by equations that take the form presented in [1]. So the normal form presented in [1] is already representative of a large class of locomoting systems. My short term research goal is taking advantage of the structure introduced by the normal form introduced in [1] to develop a framework that identifies optimal gaits for locomoting systems.

[1] J.P. Ostrowski and J.W. Burdick. The geometric mechanics of undulatory robotic locomotion. Interna-
tional Journal of Robotics Research, 17(7):683{702, 1998.

Suresh Ramasamy is pursuing a dual doctoral degree in robotics and mechanical engineering at Oregon State University.