School of Engineering Magazine/Fall 2011

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School of Engineering/Fall 2011


  • EngineeringSchool of

    MagazineFall 2011


  • Lawrence Larson

    It is a great honor to be named the Dean of the School of Engineering at Brown University. I have many people to thank for this wonderful opportunity, but especially the previous Dean Rod Clifton, Provost David Kertzer and President Ruth Simmons. They worked together over the last several years to create a true School of Engineering here at Brown, and now it is our collective responsibility to grow the School and increase the impact and scope of Brown Engineering.

    Our goals for the years ahead are to make Brown Engineering one of the most recognized engineering programs in the nation and the world, respected for its tangible contributions to society, and for the quality of its graduates and faculty. This transformation will be profound, but it will keep us tied closely to the things that make Brown so special: our amazing students, our intellectual leadership, our interdisciplinary research and historical grounding in the liberal arts tradition.

    In the coming years, we will work to increase the impact that Brown Engineering has on the nation and the world. But what do we mean when we say a School of Engineering has impact? It means we are going to bring new faculty to Brown, whose innovative research in biomedicine, energy and the environment, nanotechnology and entrepreneurial studies, will improve peoples lives and create jobs and

    perhaps even entirely new industries. A great university thrives on the quality of its faculty, and the best faculty member is a rare combination of a brilliant and ambitious researcher and an engaged and passionate teacher. My major goal for the next few years will be to find these special people and convince them that Brown is the place they should spend the rest of their careers.

    Increasing the impact also means that we will increase the number of Ph.D. graduate students, grow our research program, and grow our Sc.M. programs. In terms of growing the research enterprise, the cultivation of new relationships and interactions both within engineering and with partners

    other academic departments here at Brown, national and foreign universities, local hospitals, industry, etc. is key to our success. We will grow the Schools interaction with industry through close collaborative research partnerships and recruiting relationships. These linkages insure that the results of our research are widely used in the most productive ways.

    Increasing the impact also means renewing our commitment to a high quality, modern, deep, and broad-based engineering education for our undergraduate students. We have an underlying philosophy at Brown that engineering is a profession, much like education and medicine, that has a real positive impact on the lives of people. The National Academy of Engineering recently produced a report (The Engineer of 2020) that asserted that the engineering degree will become the liberal arts degree of the future due to the depth of the problem solving skills and the breadth of disciplines a modern engineer has to engage with. The accomplishments of our Brown Engineering alumni from inventors, educators, professors, consultants, business professionals, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists, to executives in fast growing start-ups and Fortune 500 companies are a testament to the impact a Brown engineer can make in the world.

    We will see many exciting changes in the School of Engineering at Brown

    in the coming years. I look forward to this great adventure we are starting on together.

    A Great University thrives on the quality of its faculty, and the best

    faculty member is a rare combination of a brilliant and ambitious researcher

    and an engaged and passionate teacher

    M E S S A G E F R O M T H E D E A N

    BROWN | SchOOl OF ENgiNEERiNg 2

  • I N S I D E T H I S I S S U E

    3 Fall | 2011

    The engineering program at

    Brown University is the oldest

    in the Ivy League and the third

    oldest civilian engineering

    program in the United States. Our

    historical roots include a unique

    structure organized around a core

    curriculum and collaborations

    across disciplines.

    2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Message from the Dean

    4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Brain Researchers Study High-Tech Ways to Overcome Injury

    6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Researchers Create Nanopatch for the Heart

    8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bioengineering Professor Leads Research on Head Impacts and Concussions in Football

    10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Why Carbon Nanotubes Spell Trouble for Cells

    12 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . New Faculty - Lawrence Larson

    13 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . New Faculty - Nitin Padture

    14 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . New Faculty - Axel van de Walle

    15 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . New Faculty - Pedro Felzenswalb

    16 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .New Faculty - Andrew Peterson

    17 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faculty Awards

    18-19 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Student Awards

    20 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Brown Partnering with General Motors

    21 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Brown Hosts STEM Outreach for Local 4th Graders

    22 . . . . . Four Undergrad Women Coordinate Free Engineering Camp for High School Girls

    23 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Behind the Numbers / Alumni Involvement

    Comments, suggestions or address changes may be mailed to:

    Brown School of EngineeringBox D182 Hope StreetProvidence, RI 02912 USA

    Tel: 401-863-2677Fax:

    Learn more about Brown Engineeering at

    Editorial: Gordon Morton, Brown Engineering Director of Communications Design and Printing: Meridian Printing,

    Connect with Brown Engineering

  • Brain researchers study high-tech ways to overcome injury

    When six engineering and neuroscience professors took on Browns major role in the $14.9-million REPAIR project a little more than a year ago, they also took on a dream. Their goal is to understand the workings of the brains circuitry so well that it would be possible to fix a traumatic brain injury.

    The ability to help people who are severely disabled or injured in ways that no current medical treatment can cure is the dream, said Arto Nurmikko, professor of engineering, who is the co-primary investigator of the project. Its funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and is shared with Stanford University, the University of CaliforniaSan Francisco and University College London.

    The Brown team, which also includes neuroscientists Rebecca Burwell, Barry Connors, John Donoghue, David Sheinberg, and engineering professor Leigh Hochberg, hopes to ferret out how circuits of brain cells work to perceive the environment, process a physical response to it, and then command the body to act out that plan. For people whove suffered brain damage, the scientists goal will be to translate knowledge into treatments that can restore impaired functions.

    If there is an injury that leads to some kind of dysfunction in the brain, do we understand enough so as to substitute the missing part or the broken part with some of the kinds of the control technology we are trying to develop and replace that function? Sheinberg said. Do we understand how the visual system works well enough so that in

    the absence of a particular part of the visual system we can deliver signals artificially that might serve as a viable substitute?

    The goal is bold but the team is encouraged by the advent of a new technology called optogenetics. It allows them to genetically engineer brain cell circuits to be controlled with pulses of light. Blue light makes the cells active. Yellow light makes them inactive.

    The technology, developed by project collaborator Karl Deisseroth at Stanford, allows scientists to control functions within the brain in the millisecond timescale of its natural operation. That technology, coupled with the traditional technique of reading out brain signals electrically, gives the researchers the ability to selectively change how brain cells are working and at the same time observe the response of connected cells.

    The optogenetic methodology is fairly

    new and its promising to revolutionize the experimental tools that we have for exploring how the brain processes information and remaps and reorganizes, Burwell said. This will be one way that we can target an individual neuron in order to change its patterns of activity. This would be the way that we send in a signal.

    To make such a read-write interface with the brain feasible, Nurmikko and his labs members in the first year have invented a new device they call the optrode. The prototype device delivers laser pulses to the brain to control circuits and records the electrical activity of neurons all within a wire comparable in width to a human hair.

    In experiments with rodents, Connors uses optogenetics to discern how individual cell behavior influences the operation of brain circuits, and Burwell is using optogenetics to study how brain circuits underlying functions such as attention and memory guide decision making and behavior. Sheinberg uses these methods to study visual perception and recognition, and Donoghue and Hochberg study how the brain produces physical movement commands. All together, the work will produce needed new findings in perception, cognition, and movement that can inform new therapies for people who have lost any of those functions to injury.

    Theres an awful lot to be learned, Nurmikko said. This paradigm of listening to the brain while actually informing the brain [with] methods that have not been available before, will elevate that understanding to a completely new level.

    One year after winning a major share of a nearly $15-million grant, a team of Brown researchers is developing and

    using new technologies to study the brain. Their goal is to inform the development of therapies that could restore

    functions lost to injury and stroke.

    This paradigm of listening to the brain while actually informing the brain [with] methods that have not been available before, will elevate

    that understanding to a completely new level.

    F R O M T H E L A B S

    By David Orenstein

    BROWN | SchOOl OF ENgiNEERiNg 4

  • 5 Fall | 2011

    Below: Arto Nurmikko

    Above: An optrode device delivers laser pulses to the brain and records electrical activity.

  • Researchers Create Nanopatch For The Heart

    When you suffer a heart attack, a part of your heart dies. Nerve cells in the hearts wall and a special class of cells that spontaneously expand and contract keeping the heart beating in perfect synchronicity are lost forever. Surgeons cant repair the affected area. Its as if when confronted with a road riddled with potholes, you have to abandon whats there and build a new road instead.

    Needless to say, this is a grossly inefficient way to treat arguably the single most important organ in the human body. The best approach would be to figure out how to resuscitate the deadened area, and in this quest, a group of researchers at Brown University and in India may have an answer.

    The scientists turned to nanotechnology. In a lab, they built a scaffold-like structure consisting of carbon nanofibers and a gov-ernment-approved polymer. Tests showed the synthetic nanopatch regenerated natu-ral heart tissue cells called cardiomyo-cytes as well as neurons. In short, the tests showed that a dead region of the heart can be brought back to life.

    This whole idea is to put something where dead tissue is to help regenerate it, so that you eventually have a healthy heart, said David Stout, a graduate student in the School of Engineering at Brown and the lead author of the paper published in Acta Biomaterialia.

    The approach, if successful, would help millions of people. In 2009, some 785,000 Americans suffered a new heart attack linked to weakness caused by the scarred cardiac muscle from a previous heart attack,

    according to the American Heart Association. Just as ominously, a third of women and a fifth of men who have experienced a heart attack will have another one within six years, the researchers added, citing the American Heart Association.

    What is unique about the experiments at Brown and at the India Institute of Technology Kanpur is that the engineers employed carbon nanofibers, helical-shaped tubes with diameters between 60 and 200 nanometers. The carbon nanofibers work well because they are excellent conductors of electrons, performing the kind of electrical connections the heart relies upon for keeping a steady beat. The researchers stitched the nanofibers together using a poly lactic-co-glycolic acid polymer to form a mesh about 22 millimeters long and 15 microns thick and resembling a black Band Aid, Stout said. They laid the mesh on a glass substrate to test whether cardiomyocytes would colonize the surface and grow more cells.

    In tests with the 200-nanometer-diameter carbon nanofibers seeded with cardiomyocytes, five times as many heart-tissue cells colonized the surface after four hours than with a control sample consisting of the polymer only. After five days, the density of the surface was six times greater than the control sample, the researchers reported. Neuron density had also doubled after four days, they added.

    The scaffold works because it is elastic and durable, and can thus expand and contract much like heart tissue, said Thomas Webster, associate professor in

    engineering and orthopaedics at Brown and the corresponding author on the paper. Its because of these properties and the carbon nanofibers that cardiomyocytes and neurons congregate on the scaffold and spawn new cells, in effect regenerating the area.

    The scientists want to tweak the scaffold pattern to better mimic the electrical current of the heart, as well as build an in-vitro model to test how the material reacts to the hearts voltage and beat regime. They also want to make sure the cardiomyocytes that grow on the scaffolds are endowed with the same abilities as other heart-tissue cells.

    Bikramjit Basu at the India Institute of Technology Kanpur contributed to the paper. The Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum, the Hermann Foundation, the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, the government of India and California State University funded the research.

    Engineers at Brown University, along with colleagues in India, have a promising new approach for treating heart-

    attack victims. The researchers created a nanopatch with carbon nanofibers and a polymer. In laboratory tests,

    natural heart-tissue cell density on the nanoscaffold was six times greater than the control sample, while neuron

    density had doubled.

    F R O M T H E L A B S

    David Stout

    BROWN | SchOOl OF ENgiNEERiNg 6

    By Richard Lewis

  • 7 Fall | 2011

    F R O M T H E L A B S

    This whole idea is to put

    something where dead tissue is

    to help regenerate it, so that you

    eventually have a healthy heart

  • Bioengineering Professor Leads Researchon Head Impacts and Concussions in Football

    Thousands of college football players began competing around the nation this fall, but with the thrill of the new season comes new data on the risks of taking the field. A new study reports that running backs and quarterbacks suffer the hardest hits to the head, while linemen and linebackers are hit on the head most often. The researchers measured head blows during games and practices over three seasons at Brown University, Dartmouth College, and Virginia Tech.

    The study, led by Joseph J. Crisco, professor of orthopaedics in the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and director of the bioengineering laboratory at Rhode Island Hospital, documented 286,636 head blows among 314 players in the 2007-09 seasons. Crisco said the new data on the magnitude, frequency, and location of head blows amounts to a measure of each players head impact exposure. Ultimately it can help doctors understand the biomechanics of how blows to the head result in injury.

    This allows us to quantify what the exposure is, Crisco said. It is the exposure that we need to build upon, so that we can then start understanding what the relationships are with acute and chronic head injury.

    The study appears online in advance in the Journal of Biomechanics.

    Concussions and other head injuries have become a source of elevated concern in football and other sports in recent years, with various leagues revising policies to protect players better. In part based on seeing this new data, said Robin Harris, Ivy

    League executive director, league officials announced earlier this year that full-contact practices would be limited to two a week.

    Hits by position The new study documents the nature of head blows by player position. Players on the three teams wore helmets equipped with wireless sensors that measured acceleration in various directions. That data allowed the team of researchers from Brown, Dartmouth, Virginia Tech, and sensor-maker Simbex to discern how hard the hit was, how often each player was hit, and where

    on the helmet they were hit.

    Crisco devised the algorithm that Simbexs Head Impact Telemetry System uses to measure head impacts. The systems development and this study were funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment.

    The data on head acceleration and hit direction are used to calculate a composite score of exposure called HITsp that researchers believe might be a good predictor of concussion. On average, running backs had the highest HITsp, 36.1, followed by quarterbacks with 34.5 and linebackers at 32.6. Offensive and defensive linemen had the lowest HITsp numbers,

    Researchers, including biomedical engineering Professor Joseph J. Trey Crisco, gathered data on the frequency,

    direction, and magnitude of head impacts from players who wore sensor-equipped helmets during three football

    seasons at Brown University, Dartmouth College, and Virginia Tech. The data amount to a measure of players

    exposure to head impacts, which can ultimately help physicians and scientists understand how concussions occur.

    When coupled with education that leads to modified tackling, blocking, or checking

    techniques, these rules will reduce head impact exposure and have the potential to reduce the

    incidence and severity of brain injury.

    F R O M T H E F I E L D

    BROWN | SchOOl OF ENgiNEERiNg 8

    By David Orenstein

  • F R O M T H E F I E L D

    with 29.0 and 28.9 respectively, but along with linebackers, they were hit on the head most often. Doctors worry not only about hit severity, but also hit frequency, because repeated head impacts may cause subconcussive neurological damage over time.

    By analyzing head impacts by position, Crisco said, researchers can help football league officials and equipment designers begin to think about ways to make players safer.

    It will allow us to begin to understand how to control the exposures, Crisco said. Controlling head impact exposure is critical, he added, because there are currently no treatments for acute or chronic brain injuries, and helmets cannot prevent injuries for all players in all situations.

    One possibility could include rule changes. Another could include designing helmets for specific positions.

    Crisco and his colleagues are now analyzing data about concussions during the three seasons to determine how and whether head impact exposure is associated with injury. He recently co-authored another paper about male and female collegiate hockey players, which reported that although women were diagnosed with more concussions, they sustained fewer and less severe head impacts.

    Although Criscos analysis is still underway, his insights into head impact exposure led him and co-author Richard Greenwald, a Dartmouth engineer, to write a commentary earlier this year in Current Sports Medicine Reports, in which they argued that intentional use of the head in sports must be curbed.

    We propose the adoption of rules or in some sports, we champion the enforcement of existing rules that eliminate intentional head contact in helmeted sports, they

    wrote. When coupled with education that leads to modified tackling, blocking, or checking techniques, these rules will reduce head impact exposure and have the potential to reduce the incidence and severity of brain injury.

    Crisco, a former college football and lacrosse player, said he is passionate about contact sports and believes they have many benefits.

    Hitting is an essential component, he said. But intentional hitting with your head was never part of any sport and is poor technique.

    In addition to Crisco and Greenwald, other authors of the paper are Bethany Wilcox of Brown; Jonathan Beckwith and Jeffrey Chu of Simbex; Stefan Duma and Steve Rowson of Virginia Tech and Wake Forest; and Ann-Christine Duhaime, Arthur Maerlender, and Thomas McAllister of Dartmouth.

    9 Fall | 2011

  • Why Carbon Nanotubes Spell Trouble For Cells

    Its been long known that asbestos spells trouble for human cells. Scientists have seen cells stabbed with spiky, long asbestos fibers, and the image is gory: Part of the fiber is protruding from the cell, like a quivering arrow thats found its mark.

    But scientists had been unable to understand why cells would be interested in asbestos fibers and other materials at the nanoscale that are too long to be fully ingested. Now a group of researchers at Brown University explains what happens. Through molecular simulations and experiments, the team reports in Nature Nanotechnology that certain nanomaterials, such as carbon nanotubes, enter cells tip-first and almost always at a 90-degree angle. The orientation ends up fooling the cell; by taking in the rounded tip first, the cell mistakes the particle for a sphere, rather than a long cylinder. By the time the cell realizes the material is too long to be fully ingested, its too late.

    Its as if we would eat a lollipop thats longer than us, said Huajian Gao, professor of engineering at Brown and the papers corresponding author. It would get stuck.

    The research is important because nanomaterials like carbon nanotubes have promise in medicine, such as acting as vehicles to transport drugs to specific cells or to specific locations in the human body. If scientists can fully understand how nanomaterials interact with cells, then they can conceivably design products that help cells rather than harm them.

    If we can fully understand (nanomaterial-cell dynamics), we can make other tubes that can control how cells interact with nanomaterials and not be toxic, Gao said. We ultimately want to stop the attraction between the nanotip and the cell.

    Like asbestos fibers, commercially available carbon nanotubes and gold nanowires have rounded tips that often range from 10 to 100 nanometers in diameter. Size is important here; the diameter fits well within the cells parameters for what it can handle. Brushing up against the nanotube, special proteins called receptors on the cell spring into action, clustering and bending the membrane wall to wrap the cell around the nanotube tip in a sequence that the authors call tip recognition. As this occurs, the nanotube is tipped to a 90-degree angle, which reduces the amount of energy needed for the cell to engulf the particle.

    Once the engulfing endocytosis begins, there is no turning back. Within minutes, the cell senses it cant fully engulf the nanostructure and essentially dials 911. At this stage, its too late, Gao said. Its in trouble and calls for help, triggering an immune response that can cause repeated inflammation.

    The team hypothesized the interaction using coarse-grained molecular dynamic simulations and capped multiwalled carbon nanotubes. In experiments involving nanotubes and gold nanowires and mouse liver cells and human mesothelial cells, the nanomaterials entered the cells tip-first and

    Carbon nanotubes and other long nanomaterials can spell trouble for cells. The reason: Cells mistake them for

    spheres and try to engulf them. Once they start, cells cannot reverse course, and complete ingestion never occurs.

    Researchers at Brown University detail for the first time how cells interact with carbon nanotubes, gold nanowires

    and asbestos fibers. Results are published in Nature Nanotechnology.

    Its as if we would eat a lollipop thats longer than

    us, said Huajian Gao, professor of engineering at Brown and the papers corresponding author. It

    would get stuck.

    F R O M T H E L A B

    Cells ingest things by engulfing them. When a longperpendicular fiber comes near, the cell sensesonly its tip, mistakes it for a sphere, and beginsengulfing something too long to handle.

    BROWN | SchOOl OF ENgiNEERiNg 10

  • F R O M T H E L A B

    at a 90-degree angle about 90 percent of the time, the researchers report.

    We thought the tube was going to lie on the cell membrane to obtain more binding sites. However, our simulations revealed the tube steadily rotating to a high-entry degree, with its tip being fully wrapped, said Xinghua Shi, first author on the paper who earned his doctorate at Brown and is at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. It is counter-intuitive and is mainly due to the bending energy release as the membrane is wrapping the tube.

    The team would like to study whether nanotubes without rounded tips or less rigid nanomaterials such as nanoribbons pose the same dilemma for cells.

    Interestingly, if the rounded tip of a carbon nanotube is cut off (meaning the tube is open and hollow), the tube lies on the cell membrane, instead of entering the cell at a

    high-degree-angle, Shi said.

    Agnes Kane, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Brown, is a corresponding author on the paper. Other authors include Annette von dem Bussche from the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Brown and Robert Hurt from the Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation at Brown.

    The National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Research Program, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded the research.

    Receptors on the cells surface crowd around the nanotube, effectively standing it upright. The cell mistakes the tube for a sphere and begins to engulf it.

    11 Fall | 2011

    Professor Huajian Gao

  • Lawrence Larson

    Larry Larson comes to Brown University as more than faculty member. He comes as the founding dean of the newly created Brown School of Engineering.

    Larson started as dean on July 1. After a summer on the job, he has enunciated a vision for the school: Recruit the best faculty; build modern, expanded space for research; in time, move into a new building.

    When really great people come to a place, what are they looking for? Larson said. Theyre looking for great people to latch onto. Theyre looking for space to become world leaders in research. Thats the vision Im trying to help Brown University realize. I have bought into that.

    In a way, this is the third act of a distinguished career for the 53-year-old Larson. For 16 years, he worked at Hughes Research Laboratories. There, he pioneered the development of analog integrated circuits and new generations of low-noise high-electron mobility transistors (HEMTs), as well as microwave integrated circuits in SiGe HBT technology.

    In a presentation late last year titled Wireless Everywhere and in Everything, Larson predicted that within a decade wireless

    devices and sensors will be so inexpensive that they can be embedded into almost any manufactured object and located almost anywhere through GPS technology. Its not implausible to think that pretty much everything we think about in a cell phone is going to be on something the size of the head of a pin, he said.

    After Hughes, Larson entered academia, joining the faculty at the University of CaliforniaSan Diego in 1996. From 2001 to 2006, he was director of the UCSD Center for Wireless Communications. During his tenure, the center had an annual budget of approximately $2.5 million that supported 25 faculty members and approximately 45 Ph.D. students, as well as partnering with over a dozen companies. He also chaired the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UCSDs Jacobs School of Engineering and was the first faculty member to hold the Communications Industry Chair.

    Larson said he was quite comfortable at UCSD, with no plans to move, until he heard about the opening at Brown. It was the chance, he recalled, of leading a major research enterprise at an Ivy League school.

    President Simmons gave me a vision of a really excellent university that wants to grow its science research and engineering, while staying true to its excellence in education and the liberal arts, Larson said.

    He continued, Now, Im trying to leverage all the things I learned in research to the administrative side. Im at the point in my life when I really want to make an impact and especially at a place like Brown.

    Although the majority of his time will be on the administrative side, Larson plans to pursue research into low-power microelectronics for brain interface applications and in health. Hes excited to work with peers such as John Donoghue in neuroscience and Arto Nurmikko in engineering, who are involved in a cutting-edge project to repair damaged signals in the human brain.

    The move to the East Coast has other benefits as well. Larsons daughter attends the Rhode Island School of Design, while his son is enrolled at Oberlin College, in Ohio. An exercise enthusiast, he and his wife are looking forward to exploring the bike and walking trails in Rhode Island.

    Integrated circuits, wireless communications, computer engineering

    Larry Larson had a rich research background when he began taking on

    senior administrative responsibilities at the University of CaliforniaSan

    Diego. The chance to be the first dean of Browns School of Engineering was

    an exciting prospect.

    M E E T T H E N E W FA c U LT y

    BROWN | SchOOl OF ENgiNEERiNg 12

  • M E E T T H E N E W FA c U LT y

    To some, ceramics is the stuff of art, the ingredient for fashioning vases, figures and other pretty objects. To Nitin Padture, ceramics is an engineers putty, a material prized for its conductivity and its resistance to heat.

    Padture, incoming professor of engineering, has devoted much of his nearly 30-year career to researching the uses of ceramics. He has come up with several innovations, including a thermal coating to optimize the performance of jet engines and to protect the super-hot turbines in power plants.

    Since I was an undergraduate, Ive always been interested in ceramics, said Padture, who was the founding director of the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Emergent Materials at The Ohio State University before coming to Brown. I sensed there were a lot of possibilities. Its such a versatile field, and it can have such a wide range of properties, from being an insulator to a superconductor. It always attracted me, and so I followed it.

    Padture, born in India, grew up on the industry floor and often accompanied his father, a civil engineer, to the foundries he managed, where workers manufactured castings for big companies. I would watch these enormous machines melt this steel, white hot sparks everywhere. Ive always been fascinated by these materials. It was the highlight of our summer.

    When he wasnt at the factory, he tinkered at home. Padture had his own workshop, building motors, generators and telephones. As a boy of 10 or 11, he built a telephone using old-fashioned shaving blades stuck vertically into a hollow box, with a pencil lead balanced between the blades to convert the vibrations to an electrical signal that corresponds to sound. I could speak into it, and you could hear it in the room next door, he said.

    He graduated to bigger things at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, an institution with which Brown established a multifaceted partnership in 2010. There, Padture discovered ceramics after learning that the school did not offer materials science.

    He worked with ceramics ever since. In 2007, Padture and colleagues published a paper showing that zirconium dioxide synthetic diamonds could be used to coat jet engine turbines blades, which meant the engines could run at higher temperatures and more efficiently. In another paper, he discovered a new class of ceramic coatings that could protect jet engines from volcanic ash, a worry to the airline industry after a volcanic eruption in Iceland grounded European air travel for days last year.

    The ceramic coatings also could be used by the power industry, where gas turbines generate 23 percent of the countrys electricity. To operate

    most efficiently, temperatures need to reach 1,400 degrees Celsius. The ceramic coating prevents the two-story-high gas turbines from melting the metallic components within.

    Padture also is investigating graphene, the single-atom thick carbon sheets that are the current darlings of materials science for potential uses in electronics and other fields. He has developed a technique to stamp many graphene sheets onto a substrate at once, in precise locations. The method could usher in high-throughput manufacturing of graphene into computer chips.

    Were still working on it, but it has the potential to become a viable method for making site-specific graphene sheets, Padture said. He expects to collaborate with engineering professors Huajian Gao, Robert Hurt, Brian Sheldon, and Vivek Shenoy. That was a draw people at Brown who work in areas similar to mine and I can bring something to the table. He will join the Brown faculty in January of 2012.

    When not teaching or in his lab, Padture likely will be cruising the countryside on his cherished motorcycle, an Aprilia Futura RST 1000. Chances are neither his wife, Sherilyn, nor his son, Siddharth, an undergraduate at Boston University, will be riding along. She doesnt mind me doing this, but shes not that keen on it, he said.

    Nitin PadtureCeramics is an engineering field with limitless possibilities and versatility,

    Nitin Padture says. Ceramics, for example, can be used as an insulator and

    as a superconductor.

    13 Fall | 2011

  • Axel van de Walle

    Axel van de Walle is like a modern-day alchemist. Where old-school scientists, searching for a particular compound, mixed elements and noted the results, van de Walle uses computers and quantum mechanics to predict the end products of interactions.

    The idea is that it takes a lot of manpower and man-hours to do something experimentally, said the incoming associate professor of engineering. If you want to try thousands of combinations, you can, but youll need lots of research assistants, and it will take a lot of time. But if you can program a computer to do it, suddenly it becomes a lot more feasible (in terms of time and money). You dont have to pay benefits to a computer.

    Of course, its nowhere near that easy. Van de Walle is quick to point out that he and others in the field are building on years of experimental work in phase diagrams, the road map in materials science that involves the mixing of elements. What he brings to the table is applying knowledge of the geometric structure of atoms and the dynamics of those interactions to narrow the focus in the hunt for new, exciting materials.

    One of van de Walles interests is in refractory materials, which resist high temperatures without melting. Discovering materials that can withstand hotter temperatures has obvious potential applications, from turbine engines to rockets or any fuel-burning device for that matter.

    Its that societal benefit derived from fundamental research that rings true for van de Walle and led him to materials engineering. It makes you feel better, he said. You dont want to be in your own bubble.

    The 39-year-old van de Walle grew up in Quebec City. His father was a mining geologist contracted to government and industry, and his mother was a librarian. He described his parents as scientifically curious, and said he had always been interested in science. As a child, he was fascinated by physics. But then I realized, maybe I also like things with concrete applications, he said. And then I noticed that materials (science) tends to be a pretty general topic. It seemed like there were open questions that were difficult and useful.

    One such question, he noted, revolves around energy. The efficient harnessing or production of energy is not limited so much by ideas, but by the right materials. If you think about batteries and fuel cells, van de Walle said, the limits lie in the materials. People know how to make a battery or a fuel cell. But to make them work even better, you need improvements in the materials.

    Van de Walle earned his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He comes to Brown from the California Institute of Technology, where he was an assistant professor in the Engineering and Applied Science Division. He also comes with substantial grant support. The day he started at Brown, he got official confirmation of the most recent funding, van de Walle happily relayed, thanks to the grant officers at the University who helped write the application before he had stepped on campus. He joined the Brown faculty in July.

    This fall, he taught a class on thermo-dynamics. Beyond teaching and research, van de Walle expects to have little free time, with his second child born less than a month ago.

    Devising and then testing materials for a given application can consume

    vast quantities of time and effort. Axel van de Walle uses computers to

    predict how materials will perform under certain conditions. The limits to

    technological progress, he says, often lie in the materials.

    M E E T T H E N E W FA c U LT y

    BROWN | SchOOl OF ENgiNEERiNg 14

  • M E E T T H E N E W FA c U LT y

    Our ability to pick out objects and immediately characterize them is a trait we tend to take for granted. Even toddlers can distinguish a car from other objects in a given scene, such as a bus, a truck, a tree, a house, or a road.

    What seems simple is actually quite complex, said Pedro Felzenszwalb, incoming associate professor of engineering. Its very subconscious. Theres a lot going on, and we dont understand what the brain is doing, although we realize that theres a lot that the brain is doing.

    Much of Felzenszwalbs research is focused on computer vision, a field that uses algorithms and modeling to teach machines how to see. Its tremendously complex, requiring the bridging of semantic gaps, as Felzenszwalb describes them, to enable computers to properly interpret visual cues in order to understand the content of an image.

    A lot of my work is trying to figure out how to build models that can represent interesting things but at the same time are amenable to computation, Felzenszwalb said.

    Back to the car. How can a computer model successfully describe a car? These models are difficult to come up with, because theres a lot going on when the image is formed, Felzenszwalb said. There are many different types, many different materials (for cars). You take a picture, and you need to factor in how the car looks based on color, the position of the camera relative to the car, other objects in the image, the light reflected, et cetera.

    Computer vision has important applications, including robotics and artificial intelligence, medical image analysis and computer graphics, as well as aiding our understanding of human perception and intelligence.

    Felzenszwalb, 34, comes from the University of Chicago, where he was associate professor of computer science. He said that at Brown, he will be part of a computer-engineering group that will include researchers from applied mathematics, computer science, engineering, and possibly other disciplines. Its hard to box in, he said.

    Felzenszwalb grew up in Rio de Janeiro. His father is a mathematics professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, while his mother is a ceramics artist. His interest

    in computers began to blossom when as a young boy he programmed his own video games and built his own computer from a kit he had ordered. You had to program it by flipping switches. I really like that kind of stuff, he said.

    He enrolled at Cornell and got involved in the robotics lab. Ive always really liked robots. I thought they were cool, he said.

    From there, Felzenszwalb earned his masters and Ph.D. degrees in computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the faculty at Chicago in 2004 and was elevated to associate professor four years later. He joined the Brown faculty in September.

    He and his wife, Caroline Klivans (whom he met at Cornell), have bought a house on College Hill. The couple plan to get outside as often as they can with their children, Aaron, 4, and Audrey, 1.

    Pedro FelzenszwalbAny small child can see that a truck is a truck and a bridge is a bridge.

    Computers, not so much. Pedro Felzenszwalb is trying to help computers

    understand the digital world they see.

    15 Fall | 2011

  • Andrew Peterson

    Its hard to imagine that society would abandon its use of carbon-based energy sources. So the question now is whether society can find a way to derive the benefits of hydrocarbons without exhausting supply. One answer may lie in producing carbon-based fuels from renewable sources.

    With renewable carbon-based fuels, your only choice is biomass, said Andrew Peterson, who will join the School of Engineering this January as an assistant professor. Its great, but its limited. We need other options.

    Petersons primary research is devoted to figuring out how other renewable energies sun, wind, maybe nuclear can be harnessed to deliver the kick that hydrocarbons so easily provide. Scientists have investigated consummating the conversion by using a twin-electrode system that ultimately splits carbon dioxide molecules into hydrocarbons. The trick, however, is overcoming the steep energy threshold needed to pull off the reaction. Thats the challenge. You need an electrocatalyst, Peterson said.

    Petersons approach is to bring advanced math to the problem. I use quantum mechanics calculations to understand the reactions at those electrodes and then use that theory to

    design catalysts to make those reactions go better, he said.

    At the end of the day, its about converting chemicals, he continued, and the way to do that is by a catalyst. That field has just hit the point in the last few years to design these catalysts from first principles, from quantum mechanics.

    There was no epiphany for the 35-year-old to enter chemical engineering. His father was a superintendent in the Dilworth, Minn., school district where Peterson grew up. His mother taught special-education and math classes in a nearby school district. He considered himself a science nerd not a dynamite story.

    After graduating from the University of Minnesota, majoring in chemical engineering, Peterson earned his master and doctorate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As a graduate student, he banded together with a few classmates to form a company, C3 Bioenergy. Working nights and weekends, the young scientists demonstrated that the same feedstock used for ethanol could be transformed into propane through fermentation and treatment by water under high pressure and temperature. The idea got media attention and caught the eyes of investors. The group placed second in MITs

    $100K Business Plan Competition in 2007.

    Despite the interest and attention, Peterson decided it wasnt worth the risk. It got to the point where we had to choose whether to leave graduate school and leave that path. It was a good choice (not to), I think.

    Even though he decided not to develop his company, Peterson has earned his corporate chops. He worked at the Cabot Corporation in Massachusetts and at British Petroleum and was a research engineer for four years at General Mills, where his innovations led to two patents. (He has three patents pending on separate inventions.)

    He said the experience working for companies has helped him appreciate that his research should have a definable application. Although Im theoretically based, I dont want (my research) to be abstract in the real world.

    Peterson moves to Providence with his wife, Alissa, a mechanical engineer who obtained a masters degree at MIT. He will join the Brown faculty in January of 2012. He is an avid hiker who has pulled off the Presidential Traverse, which involves summiting peaks named after presidents in the White Mountains in New Hampshire in a day or two.

    Someday, the world will run short of the hydrocarbons it currently uses for

    energy. Andrew Peterson is searching for a way to catalyze the conversion

    of renewable resources into hydrocarbon-based fuels.

    M E E T T H E N E W FA c U LT y

    BROWN | SchOOl OF ENgiNEERiNg 16

  • FA c U LT y A W A R D S

    Brown University Professor of Engineering Eric Suuberg is the first faculty member at Brown to become a fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS). The society announced its 2011 class of fellows on Aug. 8. Suuberg, associate director of the Superfund Research Program and co-director of the Program in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (PRIME), said the recognition is an unexpected surprise and honor: I am quite proud to join a distinguished group of individuals who have made significant contributions in the chemical sciences. Suuberg joins 212 scientists who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in chemistry and made important contributions to ACS, the worlds largest scientific society. The 2011 fellows were recognized Aug. 29 during the societys national meeting in Denver. This is not Suubergs first honor from the ACS. The society awarded him the H.H. Storch Award for Fuels Chemistry Research in 1999.

    Professor Suuberg has been at Brown since 1981, when he was one of the founding members of Browns Chemical Engineering program. His research interests have been in the areas of energy and environmental engineering. He has served as Associate Dean of the Faculty (2002-2005), as Chair of the Psychology Department (2004-5) and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Division of Engineering. He is currently Co-Director of the Superfund Basic Research Program, and a co-founder of the Commerce, Organizations and Entrepreneurship concentration as well as a co-founder of the PRIME masters program. He is a principal editor of the journal Fuel.

    He received his bachelors degree in chemical engineering from M.I.T., a masters degree in management science from M.I.T., and an Sc.D. in chemical engineering from M.I.T.

    Professor Eric Suuberg Named a Fellow of the American Chemical Society

    17 Fall | 2011

    Professor Huajian Gao to Receive 2011 Charles Russ Richards Memorial Award from ASMEHuajian Gao, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Engineering at Brown University, has been selected to receive the 2011 Charles Russ Richards Memorial Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for outstanding achievements in mechanical engineering 20 years or more following graduation. Formal presentation of the award took place during the ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition in Denver, Colorado, from November 11-17, 2011.

    The award, established in 1944 by Pi Tau Sigma in coordination with ASME, honors Charles Russ Richards, founder of Pi Tau Sigma at the University of Illinois, former head of mechanical engineering and dean of engineering at the University of Illinois and later president of Lehigh University. He

    was a member of ASME and served on its Board of Governors.

    Professor Gao received his B.S. degree from Xian Jiaotong University of China in 1982, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Engineering Science from Harvard University in 1984 and 1988, respectively. He served on the faculty of Stanford University between 1988 and 2002, where he was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1994 and to full professor in 2000. He was appointed as Director and Professor at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart, Germany between 2001 and 2006. He joined Brown University in 2006. Professor Gao has a background in applied mechanics and engineering science. He has more than 20 years of research experience with 200+ publications.

  • Brian Sheldon, Lei Yang, Thomas Webster

    S T U D E N T A W A R D S

    Erik Taylor PhD 13, a biomedical engineering graduate student at Brown University, has been selected for a Fulbright Fellowship. He will conduct research on anti-infection strategies in Mumbai, India, for six to nine months with Dr. Rinti Banerjee from IIT-Bombay through the Indo-U.S. Center for Biomaterials for Healthcare, co-directed by professors Bikram Basu and Thomas Webster.

    The title of his project is, Lipid Nanoparticles for the Treatment of Hospital Acquired Infections. Medical devices are the standard of care in the United States, and internationally, to improve healthcare. Yet, as the use these devices increases, so does the chance of device related infections (DRI). It is the purpose of this study to apply knowledge of nanotechnology towards a novel therapy for DRI.

    On a previous internship to IIT-Bombay, Taylor found in collaboration with Dr. Banerjee that a biocompatible lipid nanoparticle was promising method to treat resistant infections. Additionally, commercial resources were realized with Piramal Life Sciences, a Mumbai based biotechnology company, and Dr. Arun Balakrishnan. It will be the goal of this fellowship to further develop these efforts towards treatment of infections.

    The Fulbright Program, the U.S. Govern-ments flagship international exchange program, is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program has provided approximately 294,000 participants chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential with the

    opportunity to study, teach and conduct research.

    The Fulbright Program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide, and approximately 7,500 grants are awarded annually.

    Erik Taylor PhD13 Receives Fulbright Fellowship to India

    BROWN | SchOOl OF ENgiNEERiNg 18

    Browns Lei Yang ScM 11 PhD 11 Named a Sigma Xi Fresh Face as part of 125th Anniversary CelebrationBrown University engineering alumnus Lei Yang ScM 11 PhD 11 has been selected by the 125th Anniversary Planning Committee as a Sigma Xi Fresh Face. Sigma Xi, as part of its anniversary celebration, is recognizing select students and early-career members who have shown promise in their respective fields of study and dedication to Sigma Xi.

    Yang who was elected to full membership in Sigma Xi in 2011, received the Sigma Xi Outstanding Graduate Student Award at Brown in 2011. At the 2010 Sigma Xi Northeast Regional Research Poster Conference, Dr. Yang won the first place award.

    Yang worked with Professors Thomas Webster and Brian Sheldon while

    obtaining his Ph.D. at Brown. His doctoral dissertation was on Nanocrystaline Diamond for Orthopedic Implant Coating Applications. His work was recognized with the outstanding thesis award from the Brown School of Engineering in 2011. He is currently working as a postdoctoral research associate under Sheldon on Electrical Field Induced Stress Evolution in Anodic Tantalum Oxide Films.

    Yang is already an accomplished researcher with three patents and one pending patent to his credit. He has published more than 15 refereed journal papers, and two book chapters.

    He is the founding editor of Nano Bulletin, and has reviewed manuscripts or proposals

    for 13 research journals. He has given 25 conference presentations and five invited talks.

  • S T U D E N T A W A R D S

    Eduardo Almeida ScM10, a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering at Brown University, has been selected to receive a 2011 NASA Harriett G. Jenkins Pre-doctoral Fellowship Project (JPFP) award. The JPFP is sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and administered by the UNCF Special Programs Corporation (UNCFSP).

    As a NASA JPFP fellow, Almeida will receive up to three years of stipend and tuition offset support as he pursues his graduate education. Ph.D. level fellows receive annual stipends of $24,000.

    He has been assigned to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and his tenure will begin on September 1, 2011, under the supervision of his NASA mentor, Curtis Padgett. Almeida will also be required to spend 10 weeks each summer working with Padgett at JPL during the fellowship.

    Almeida is currently pursuing a Ph.D. degree in the School of Engineering at Brown University under the supervision of Professor David Cooper. During the course of his graduate studies, he received a dual master of science degree in engineering and applied mathematics in 2010. His interests are computer vision, machine

    learning and pattern recognition. His research at Brown involves 3D surface reconstruction, probabilistic 3D scene understanding and automatic change detection from arbitrary viewpoints and under arbitrary illumination.

    In addition, Almeida worked in collaboration with NASA through summer internships at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in 2009 and 2010. The center develops and manages spacecrafts for interplanetary exploration, such as the Mars Rovers. At NASA/JPL, the group Almeida worked on conducts research and development of algorithms for automatic data interpretation from a variety of imaging sensors. Almeida worked on two projects: i) developing an automated 3D terrain generation process from aerial images (summer 2009); ii) performing refinement of zoom lens camera calibration with unknown and time varying internal camera parameters (summer 2010). The summer internships efforts resulted in a software award and a certificate of recognition from NASA Inventions and Contributions Board.

    In addition to his NASA Jenkins Fellowship (JPFP 2011), Almeida was a NASA Rhode Island Space Grant Fellow (RISG 2009-10), and is a member of the IEEE. The RISG fellowship was a key element supporting the pursuit of his goals of combining engineering and applied mathematics skills in solving real-world problems through JPL. As a RISG fellow and JPL intern, Almeida had the opportunity to network with NASA scientists and to develop tools that helped the engineers on proposed missions. Furthermore, he has shared his experiences with local RI elementary and middle schools through community outreach motivating young scientists to also pursue their dreams.

    Before coming to Brown, Almeida graduated magna cum laude from Federal University of Ceara (Brazil) in 2004 with bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering and was a masters student at Federal University of Santa Catarina (Brazil) where he took several graduate level courses with focus on signal processing. At that time, Almeidas studies were sponsored by the Brazilian National Research Council, CNPq.

    Brown Engineering Graduate Student Eduardo Almeida Wins NASA Jenkins Fellowship

    19 Fall | 2011

  • Brown Partnering with General Motors

    General Motors will provide $2 million in funding to Brown to continue the GM/Brown Collaborative Research Laboratory on Computational Materials Science for the next five years. The laboratory for computational materials research at Brown University is one of several collaborative research laboratories General Motors has established worldwide to accelerate the pace of innovation in strategic technology areas. The GM/Brown collaboration has existed for about the past ten years.

    The goal of the laboratory is to develop computer simulations that predict the mechanical properties of materials used in automotive applications, and to use these simulations to help General Motors to develop materials with enhanced

    performance. The computations are guided and verified by experiments. Over the next five years, the laboratory will continue to focus on the development of lightweight materials, an increasingly important topic

    for all automotive subsystems because it is a key enabler for developing more energy efficient products.

    The CRL is a unique opportunity for Brown students and faculty to work with one of the best industrial research labs in the world, said Allan Bower, co-director of the CRL. By partnering with GM, we can make sure that the latest advances in computer simulation of material behavior are being used to help reduce vehicle weight and improve fuel economy.

    Notable achievements of the laboratory include the development of multi-scale simulation methods to predict the influence of chemical composition on the rate sensitivity of aluminum alloys; improved modeling of the behavior of aluminum during forming and of the microstructure evolution in aluminum-silicon alloys; development and experimental validation of computer simulation methods to predict constitutive behavior and microstructure evolution in aluminum alloys; and the development of wear resistant diamond coatings.

    At Brown, the lab is led by professor Allan Bower (co-director) and at General Motors, the co-director is Mark Verbrugge. Together, the two co-directors plan the work of the Collaborative Research Lab.

    For further information, please see

    FA c U LT y A N D R E S E A R c H N E W S

    The CRL is a unique opportunity for Brown students and faculty to work

    with one of the best industrial research labs in the world

    BROWN | SchOOl OF ENgiNEERiNg 20

  • S T E M O U T R E A c H

    On April 29, 2011, approximately fifty children in grade four from the Martin Luther King Elementary School visited the Brown engineering and physics labs of Professor Ian DellAntonio, physics graduate student Shawna Hollen, senior technical assistant Brian Corkum, and engineering graduate student Jennet Toyjanova in the Barus and Holley building. The event was organized by Karen Haberstroh 95, Director of STEM Outreach and Assistant Professor of Engineering (Research).

    Such tours have further allowed Providence schools to witness graduate fellow and faculty research first-hand, to take advantage of science facilities at the University, and to help bridge the gap between K-12 students and the college experience.

    Browns Graduate STEM fellows in K-12 education (GK-12) Program Physical Processes in the Environment supports Brown graduate fellows who work directly with the Providence Public Schools, along with a series of training and enrichment programs for K-12 teachers and students. Graduate Fellows and partner teachers participate in pedagogical training and professional development workshops, which provide the necessary background for developing and delivering hands-on and research-based activities in line with Rhode Islands Grade Span Expectations for science. Along with these research-based activities, GK-12 has organized laboratory visits and outreach events on the Brown campus.

    Brown Engineering Hosts Physical Processes in the Environment STEM Outreach for Local 4th Graders

    21 Fall | 2011

  • Four Brown Women Engineering Undergrads Coordinate Free Camp for High School Girls

    Amanda Kautz 12, Natalie Serrino 12, Farzanah Ausaluth 14, and Lizzie Costa 14, are spending their summer helping inspire future female engineers. The four women, all undergraduate engineering concentrators at Brown are all coordinators for Spira, a free, four week summer camp for rising tenth grade girls interested in engineering. It is run through Brown University and taught by these four women. Associate professor and director of undergraduate programs Janet Blume has been the advisor to the group.

    Kautz is a civil engineering concentrator from Los Angeles, while Serrino is a computer engineering concentrator from Chicago. The rising sophomore Ausaluth also plans to concentrate in civil engineering and is from London, while Costa grew up in East Providence, R.I., and will study biomedical engineering.

    Spira Engineering Camp aims to inspire the next generation of female engineers by providing a community in which young women with similar interests can be exposed to math, science, and technology in a hands-on, team-based environment. They are able to learn the real world applications of engineering and how they can make a difference in a typically male-dominated field. The goal is for Spira participants to gain confidence in their abilities and to be motivated to pursue math and science in their future studies and careers.

    The 18 tenth grade girls, who attend eight different public and private high schools in the greater Providence area, have been able to learn about math and science while completing fun, hands-on, team-based

    engineering design projects. The camp runs from July 5-29 at Brown.

    One of the recent projects the teams worked on was a balsa wood bridge project. In this case, teams of two or three girls applied their recently acquired knowledge of buckling, arches, triangles, trusses, and bridge design to create a bridge made of balsa wood. The bridge is then weighed and tested for strength by attaching a bucket to the bridge and filling the bucket of sand until the point of failure. The winning bridge is the one with the greatest strength to weight ratio.

    Kautz and Serrino had the initial vision for Spira. They were inspired to create the program based on the success and logistics of the Artemis Project, a free, five-

    week summer day camp for rising ninth grade girls in the Providence area who are interested in learning about computer science and technology run by Browns computer science department. Artemis has been running at Brown since 1996.

    Kautz and Serrino applied for and received funding for Spira from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Browns Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC). The camp is free for the students and lunch is provided. For those students who need transportation, RIPTA bus passes are provided.

    Ausaluth and Costa were recruited as coordinators in the fall and since that time all four have shared equal responsibility in planning and running the camp.

    S P I R A E N G I N E E R I N G c A M P

    Farzanah Ausaluth 14, Natalie Serrino 12, Amanda Kautz 12, and Lizzie Costa 14

    BROWN | SchOOl OF ENgiNEERiNg 22


    23 Fall | 2011

    With its new status as a true School of Engineering, along with a new Dean and new faculty, the School of Engineering at Brown is poised to grow to one of the most recognized engineering programs in the nation and the world in the coming years, respected for its tangible contributions to society, and for the quality of its graduates and faculty. This transformation will be accomplished within the context of the unique environment that is Brown: its deep liberal arts tradition, interdisciplinary research focus, high student achievement, emphasis on educational quality, and low boundaries between disciplines.

    Active alumni engagement is key to the success of this upcoming transformation. Over the years, Ive been strongly engaged in advising and supporting Engineering at Brown, and participating in the growth and change of the School has been enormously gratifying. In the coming years, Engineering at Brown needs your engagement with our students and our faculty. We welcome your thoughts on our strategic direction, we welcome your ideas for new programs and new opportunities, we encourage you to hire our wonderful students for internships and jobs at your companies and we welcome you to return to campus and view the amazing changes that are happening right now in engineering at Brown.

    Giancarlo on Alumni InvolvementA message from

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