UT College of Engineering News

Eight UT College of Engineering alums receive their white coat as they continue their UT education with the College of Medicine

Seven College of Engineering faculty selected for UT Scholars Institute program


Winning competitive external grants is an important element of faculty members’ road to success, and the UT Office of Research and Sponsored Programs is working to help them navigate the complexities of this progress.

The UT Scholars Institute Program has selected 38 early career faculty members to assist in their journey to promotion.

The program will help faculty members identify sources of funding targeted to their research projects; how to prepare and submit proposals that meet various agency and foundation requirements; how to comply with federal, state and University policies and rules; and ways to write a compelling story that is likely to sway external review panels.

The institute, which will convene in May, will consist of six monthly sessions, the topics of which are flexible to the interests of the participants.

“I am excited for the new Scholars Institute Program to launch. We had a large pool of applicants indicating a strong desire for faculty to increase their scholarly activity and grantsmanship,” said Dr. Amy Thompson, professor of public health and faculty fellow in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, who developed the program.

The 2017 Scholars Institute Program participants are:

• Dr. Ana Alba-Rubio, Department of Chemical Engineering;

• Dr. Wissam Abou Alaiwi, Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics;

• Dr. Gabrielle Baki, Department of Pharmacy Practice;

• Dr. Larissa Barclay, Department of Advanced Population Care;

• Dr. Tian Chen, Department of Mathematics and Statistics;

• Dr. Carmen Cioc, Department of Engineering Technology;

• Dr. Madeline Clark, Department of Counselor Education;

• Dr. Aisling Coughlan, Department of Bioengineering;

• Dr. Allyson Day, Department of Disability Studies;

• Dr. Katherine Delaney, Department of Early Childhood, Higher Education and Special Education;

• Dr. Hamoun Delaviz, Department of Neurosciences;

• Dr. Obi Ekwenna, Department of Urology, Department of Transplantation;

• Dr. Saori Furuta, Department of Biochemistry and Cancer Biology;

• Jenn Glassman, Department of Speech Language Pathology;

• Dr. Temeaka Gray, Department of Advanced Population Health;

• Dr. Serhan Guner, Department of Civil Engineering;

• Dr. F. Scott Hall, Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics;

• Dr. Trieu Le, Department of Mathematics and Statistics;

• Dr. Jiayong Liu, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery;

• Dr. Kimberly Mack, Department of English Language and Literature;

• Dr. Luis Mata, Department of Engineering Technology;

• Dr. Kimberly McBride, School of Population Health.

• Nicole McKenzie, Department of Exercise and Rehabilitation;

• Dr. Gigi McNamara, Department of Communication, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies;

• Dr. Peter Mezo, Department of Psychology;

• Dr. Jared Oluoch, Department of Engineering Technology;

• Dr. Megan Petra, Department of Social Justice;

• Dr. Brad Pierson, Department of Music;

• Dr. Dayanidh Raman, Department of Biochemistry and Cancer Biology;

• Dr. Isaac Schiefer, Department of Medicinal and Biological Chemistry;

• Dr. Heidi Shank, Department of Nursing;

• Dr. Vithal Shendge, Department of Orthopeadic Surgery;

• Dr. Heather Sloane, Department of Social Justice;

• Dr. Tonya Schmitt, Department of Advanced Population Care;

• Dr. Amit Tiwari, Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics;

• Dr. Brian Trease, Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering;

• Dr. Kasumi Yamazaki, Department of Foreign Languages; and

• Ronald Zallocco, Department of English Language and Literature

UT to be well- represented at National Conference on Undergraduate Research

Seventeen University of Toledo students will present their projects at the 31st Annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research at the University of Memphis Thursday through Saturday, April 6-8.

These projects by UT students were chosen from more than 4,000 submissions.

Blen Keneni, left, and Branden Austin worked on finalizing their system prototype for their research on “Frequency Spectrum Sharing and Priority Assignment in Communication Systems.” They will present their work this week at the 31st Annual National Conference of Undergraduate Research in Memphis, Tenn.

“The abstracts by the UT students demonstrate a unique contribution to their field of study, providing them the opportunity to present their work to their peers, faculty and staff from all over the nation,” said Dr. Thomas Kvale, professor emeritus of physics and director of the Office of Undergraduate Research.Branden Austin and Blen Keneni, students in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department in the College of Engineering, will present “Frequency Spectrum Sharing and Priority Assignment in Communication Systems” at the conference.

With a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates grant, the two worked last summer and fall on a project with Dr. Vijaya Kumar Devabhaktuni, professor of electrical engineering, as their adviser.

The purpose of their project was to build an educational prototype for attracting high school seniors and college students to pursue university degrees.

“The prototype entails demonstrable hardware and software comprised of a set of communication nodes with call priorities, which are used to help educate students on future and practical implications of spectrum sharing,” Devabhaktuni said.

“Two objectives are achieved by building this hands-on prototype: Students learn firsthand the basics of communication systems, and they are taught the concept and feasibility of ‘priority’ in radio frequency device communication.”

Devabhaktuni said this research experience provided the students with techniques beneficial in their future endeavors: hardware and software design, collaborative research skills, and time and project management.

Keneni is pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering; she graduated with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering in December. She was a senior while working on this research project. Austin is a senior undergraduate dual major in electrical and computer science engineering.

“What I liked about this research is the freedom it gave me to be creative while it challenged my engineering skills,” Keneni said. “It gave me the opportunity to have a detailed understanding of topics related to communication, radio frequency devices, as well as hardware and software design.”

Keneni added, “This undergraduate research can be used to teach students about communication systems, and it will be a great project to present during job interviews.”

“The best part of the research for me is getting to work on challenging projects that make a difference,” Austin said. “It was great to work on a project applicable to teaching students about current and emerging technology. I gained valuable contacts in both academia and industry through research.

“This, and being selected to present our research at a national conference, opens up doors for both grad school and future employment,” he said.

Other UT students who will present their work at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, the titles of their abstracts, and faculty advisers are:

• Quinton Babcock, “Lake Erie Water Quality Survey, A Natural Treatment Option to Reduce Harmful Algal Blooms,” Dr. Kevin Egan, associate professor of economics;

• Sanskar Basnet, “Beam-Foil Measurement of the Lifetime of Ge II 4s2 4d 2D3/2 Level,” Dr. Richard Irving, research assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy;

• Jason Gonring, “Feasibility Study: Solar-Powered Electric Fencing and Hydration for the Buffalo Girls Project,” Dr. Barbara Mann, professor in the Honors College, and Richard Molyet, associate professor of electrical engineering;

• Emily Grubbs, “Women’s Involvement in the Inside Out Prison Exchange Program,” Dr. Jerry Van Hoy, associate professor of sociology;

• Wonhee Kim and Keeyong Hong, “Collaboration Art Beyond Culture,” Daniel Thobias, assistant professor of art;

• Jay Kumar, “The Effect of Nicotine on Ovarian Cancer Cells,” Dr. Deborah Chadee, associate professor of biological sciences;

• Dalal Mahmoud, “Impact of Microcystin on Pre-Exisiting Liver Disease,” Dr. David Kennedy, assistant professor of medicine;

• Batool Mehdi, “Regulation of MLK3 in Ovarian Cancer Cells,” Chadee;

• Zehra Mehdi, “The Role Maternal Reminiscing Style Plays in the Accuracy of Child Reports,” Dr. Kamala London Newton, associate professor of psychology, and Monica Lawson, graduate student in experimental and developmental psychology;

• Megan Post, “Study of Furoxans in a Murine Model of Ischemic Stroke,” Dr. Isaac Schiefer, assistant professor of medicinal and biological chemistry;

• Taylor Robbins, “Comparing the Articulatory Kinematics and Acoustic Vowel Space Between Healthy and Apraxic Speakers,” Dr. Caroline Menezes, associate professor of speech-language pathology;

• Michaela Roberts, “Centriole Remodeling and Poc1 Enrichment in Drosophila Melanogaster,” Dr. Tomer Avidor-Reiss, associate professor of biological sciences;

• Olivia Sagan, “Regulation of MLK Kinases in Ovarian Cancer Cells,” Chadee;

• Shannon Saluga, “Photoredox Catalysts and Their Applications in Organic Synthesis,” Dr. Wei Li, assistant professor of chemistry;

• Nadeen Sarsour, “Prenatal Androgen Exposure in Adult Female Wistar Rats,” Jennifer W. Hill, associate professor of physiology and pharmacology; and

• Raj Thomas, “Investigating the Role of MLK3 in Mitotic Progression of Ovarian Cancer Cells,” Chadee.

Student advocates for clean drinking water worldwide

Last month, 17 high school students from the Natural Science and Technology Center, a Toledo Public Schools Career Tech Program, came to the Chemical Engineering Unit-Ops Laboratory in Nitschke Hall to learn about water quality and purification systems.

Megan Davidson, a second-year chemical engineering student, taught the students about the engineering aspects of different water purification systems to get them started in thinking about how they can use both water and energy in a more responsible way.

Megan Davidson explained how a water purification system worked to local high school students who recently visited campus.

Davidson has been a strong advocate for water purification since starting at UT. Her interest was initially piqued when she went to Guatemala in 2015 to build a home for a family in need.“I was warned not to drink the water or even eat any food that had been washed in the water because it could make me sick,” Davidson said. “The idea that people are getting diarrhea and are malnourished because of the water they drink always struck me as a great injustice.”

In her freshman orientation class, Davidson had the opportunity to learn about the ultraviolet water purification system made by Clean Water for the World and was surprised by the simplicity of the system. She then became involved with Walk for Water, an organization that raises money for water purification units and spreads awareness of the conditions of the water in developing countries.

This year, Davidson served as the educational outreach director for Walk for Water; she helped develop a lesson plan for seventh- and eighth-grade presentations, which covered a wide range of related topics.

“We wanted to tie in green energy to the presentations to give students more to think about and help them understand that all of the world’s resources are connected,” Davidson said. “We were able to reach out to about 1,200 students in 20 different schools.”

During spring break this year, Davidson was invited to go to El Salvador with a group of chemical and environmental engineering students to visit various communities and assess their water situation. They surveyed people’s overall health and their use of and accessibility to clean water.

If the community did not have a water purification unit, the UT students installed one of nine units they had brought and taught the people how it works and how to clean and replace parts as needed. For the communities that already had a unit, they recorded the maintenance of the system and took a list of needed parts to keep it operational.

“I was very excited to be able to see the units in action and to understand firsthand the impact they are making in peoples’ lives,” Davidson said. “It was fantastic to be able to see everything come full circle, from building and researching improvements that can be made to the units to fundraising through Walk for Water to finally installing the units and being able to talk to the people who are now able to drink clean water.”

Davidson is passionate about water purification projects and plans to stay involved with them in the future. She is considering spending time in Central America to address water problems after she graduates.

“I think it is important for people to understand that all waterways are connected. The water we have in the U.S. is clean and safe to drink because we have installed plants to treat water that is not safe,” Davidson said. “Not everyone is fortunate enough to have government-funded systems and are stuck drinking water with chemicals, viruses, bacteria and even feces in it every single day. If we care about others, and not just the people we see every day, but people we share water with across the world, we need to be aware that there are things we can do to help those in need.”

UT College of Engineering to announce diversity scholarship program in partnership with Dana, Inc., Toledo Excel

The University of Toledo College of Engineering will host a special event Thursday, May 4, to announce a new program in partnership with Dana Inc. and Toledo Excel.

At the event, Dana will present the College of Engineering with a check for $250,000 to create the Dana Excelling into Engineering Scholarship Program.

The check presentation will take place at 11 a.m. in Nitschke Hall Room 1027.

The initiative aims to increase the recruitment, enrollment, retention and success of underrepresented minority students in degree programs offered by the College of Engineering.

Dr. Lesley Berhan, director of engineering diversity initiatives and associate professor of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering, will lead the new program.

“Through this partnership with Dana Inc. and Toledo Excel, we hope to develop a sustainable pipeline to the College of Engineering for underrepresented students in the Toledo area that will introduce them to the exciting world of engineering and enhance their academic and professional preparation,” Berhan said.

“Diversity is a priority both for the University and for the employers who hire our graduates,” said Dr. Steve LeBlanc, interim dean of the College of Engineering. “At the College of Engineering, we are thrilled to partner with Dana to provide more support for minority students in engineering programs. We hope to increase the success of students in this program by providing mentorship and professional development before the students even enroll at UT.”

The Dana Excelling into Engineering Scholarship Program is a four-stage program that will start after the completion of 11th grade with a summer institute, beginning in July. Mentorship and professional development opportunities will continue through the completion of a degree from the College of Engineering.

“Dana is proud to partner of The University of Toledo in this endeavor to better connect students from underrepresented communities to career paths in engineering,” George Constand, chief technology officer at Dana Inc., said. “We believe this will help to promote greater diversity and inclusion among the engineering workforce of the future.”

For 28 years Toledo Excel has provided college preparation and scholarships to underrepresented students, including African, Asian, Hispanic and Native Americans. Through services such as summer institutes, academic retreat weekends, campus visits and guidance through the admission process, students increase their self-esteem, cultural awareness and civic involvement.

“The Excelling into Engineering Scholarship Program is a wonderful opportunity for us to expand what we do for some of our Excel students who are interested in careers in engineering,” David Young, director of the Toledo Excel Program, said. “It provides them with a great introduction to the field through amazing faculty in the University’s College of Engineering; mentorship and guidance from a fantastic company like Dana; and continued support from the Toledo Excel staff that has invested in them since the time they left middle school. I am thrilled that the idea Dr. Berhan discussed with me many months ago has now become reality.”

More information on the Dana Excelling into Engineering Scholarship Program can be found here.

UT Major Gifts Officer one of five in nation recognized as outstanding young professional

Nicholas Kulik, major gifts officer for the College of Engineering, is among five fundraisers younger than 31 recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

For his impressive fundraising achievements, he recently was named to the association’s first group of Outstanding Young Professionals.


In his first year with The University of Toledo, Kulik raised more than $2 million for the major gift programs of two of UT’s largest colleges.“Nick’s personal contributions have been a tremendous asset to the Advancement team,” said Brenda S. Lee, president of the UT Foundation. “This national honor is a testament to his exemplary efforts and enthusiasm.”

The Outstanding Young Professionals designation honors exemplary work in raising funds, inspiring donors, helping manage campaigns, and giving back to the profession.

“Nick’s focus on meeting donor objectives, while working to further the University’s mission, has been a great part of his success,” said Michael Harders, vice president for advancement. “Not only is he an outstanding fundraiser, he also is skilled at building relationships throughout the University community.”

Kulik and the other four honorees will be recognized at the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ International Fundraising Conference in San Francisco Sunday, April 30.

“It’s an honor and humbling experience being recognized with a great class of young professionals,” said Kulik, a Certified Fund Raising Executive. “Through the guidance of my mentors, support of my family, especially my wife, and experiences through the Association of Fundraising Professionals, I’ve turned my career into my passion.”

An alumnus of Pi Kappa Phi, Kulik also was recognized with the fraternity’s Thirty Under 30 Award in 2014. It was through Pi Kappa Phi that he realized he wanted to make fundraising his career.

“While in college, I started raising funds for people with disabilities through Pi Kappa Phi and wanted to make it my life’s pursuit to help people,” Kulik said. “Working with philanthropists to create transformation change in a community, hospital or university has been personally rewarding.”

After graduating from Bowling Green State University, Kulik spent most of his career with the United Way network, where he worked on multiple $13 million annual campaigns in northwest Ohio. Kulik also worked at the United Way of Racine County, where he led a campaign that raised a record-setting $5.4 million.

In addition to his United Way experience, he was a major gifts officer for Bowling Green State University and ProMedica Health System focusing on securing major gifts for their comprehensive campaigns.

He is pursuing a master of studies in law from The University of Toledo.

UT Engineering students to show off senior projects April 28

By Christine Billau

More than 70 projects will be on display Friday, April 28, during The University of Toledo’s Undergraduate Research and Senior Design Engineering Project Exposition.

Projects include an aromatic alarm clock, a motion-activated vacuum pump for lower limb prosthetics, and an Internet-enabled, smart-mirror medicine cabinet.

The College of Engineering event, which is free and open to the public, will be held from noon to 3 p.m. on the first floor of Nitschke Hall.

The exposition showcases projects created by more than 250 graduating seniors from the departments of Bioengineering; Civil and Environmental Engineering; Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Engineering Technology; and Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.

Projects are the required senior design capstone project where students form business-consulting units to develop a solution for a client’s technical or business challenge. Businesses, industries and federal agencies sponsor these projects.

Several projects over the last few years have gone on to become patented. This semester, a team of bioengineering students plans to pursue a patent for its project called SpecuLIFT, which is being designed to reduce discomfort and residual pain during pelvic exams.

Students, Faculty Present Research Updates at CDMI Spring Symposium

Scientific innovation and research is constantly making impact in the medical community, and the University of Toledo is contributing to the story.

The University of Toledo will host a biannual conference next week to review projects conducted through the National Science Foundation’s center on our campus. The conference will be held at College of Engineering in the Thomas and Betsy Brady Engineering Innovation Center on April 5 & 6, 2017 starting at 7:30 a.m. both days and end at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday and 1 p.m. on Friday. It will include presentations from students, faculty and staff as well as keynote speakers.

The Center for Disruptive Musculoskeletal Innovations (CDMI) was founded by Drs. Jeffrey Lotz, University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and Vijay Goel, University of Toledo (UT) July, 2014 through the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) program. This center is one of only four I/UCRC’s in the area of health and safety. It joins industry members and faculty from the University of Toledo and UCSF to define and fund industry-inspired, precompetitive research projects and other collaborative initiatives. The CDMI maintains itself as a primary source for fundamental research on clinical outcomes and cost data, implant materials, tissue engineering, biosensors, implant testing protocols, and novel imaging in the musculoskeletal domain.

“To have an NSF Center is very prestigious,” said Dr. Vijay Goel, CDMI co-director and bioengineering and orthopaedic surgery professor. “To see that the faculty are working side-by-side with industry to translate research discoveries is exciting, and allows us to accelerate our efforts to create value for society.”

Through the CDMI, graduate and undergraduate students are assigned to funded projects, work on research, and provide quarterly progress reports during scheduled meetings. Industry members choose to become mentors for the some of the funded projects, thus giving the students valuable interaction and guidance as they work towards completing the research projects.

One of the exciting aspects of the bi-annual CDMI meeting is that the students will be presenting the CDMI project updates to the CDMI Industry Advisory Board (IAB). The IAB currently consists of high-level executives in 8 businesses or organizations in the medical field. This will be a unique training experience for many of our students since they will be able to meet and interact with many of the industry executives and get immediate feedback on their projects, Goel said. Some of the IAB members will be from companies like Depuy Spine, Orthofix, K2M, Zimmer, Osteonovus, Spinal Balance, and Medipol University, Turkey.

The best part about being involved in the conference, according to one of our masters students, is that the industry executives are receiving their resumes and seeing firsthand all the work the students have been doing. Over 85 students, faculty, and industry representatives will attend.

For more information, visit the CDMI website at www.nsfcdmi.org

Adapted from story by Lindsay Mahaney

Freshman Design Expo highlights student innovation

Freshman design students show off their breath-activated inhaler prototype.

College of Engineering students are innovators- beginning in their freshman year. On Friday, February 24th, the College of Engineering hosted the Freshman Design Expo. Approximately 30 student teams presented and discussed their projects with visitors, including fellow students, faculty, staff, and community members. Projects included a motorized skateboard, campus efficiency apps, and an inhaler for dispensing medication- among other innovative design solutions. WTOL11 highlighted some of the projects from the expo. View the WTOL11 coverage of the event here.

Freshman design student explains “Green Roofs” project to local youth.

The College of Engineering has introduced several Freshman Design initiatives give first-year engineering students hands-on experience with entrepreneurship and introduce them to real world challenges faced by innovators and start-ups. The Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering (MIME) Department integrates a Freshman Design Project in the course MIME 1000: Introduction to Mechanical Engineering. After learning about entrepreneurship in the classroom setting, students form teams and create a business plan to market novel devices. In the Department of Bioengineering, students have the option to participate in the BIOE Freshman Design Club.  Teams work to address problems related to patient/doctor communication, hospital-acquired infection, and redesign of medical instruments and rehabilitation devices. Groups then develop and propose solutions to these real-world challenges. Several projects from these two departments were on display at Friday’s Expo.

Freshman students explain their ankle brace design improvements.

Recognizing that the spirit to invent and create reaches across disciplines, the College of Engineering supports campus-wide entrepreneurial initiatives. The College of Engineering hosted the Expo in collaboration with the Freshman Engineering Entrepreneurship Development club (FEED), Young Entrepreneurship Society (YES), and the First Year Rocket Engineers, (FYRE) a social and professional organization designed to enhance the college experience for freshmen or first year engineering students. Scott McIntyre guides students in the Freshman Engineering Entrepreneurship Development club, (FEED) which teaches freshman students to apply an entrepreneurial edge to the theory and practice of engineering, with mentoring from upper class members of the sister organization, Young Entrepreneurship Society (YES).

The annual event is likely to grow in the coming years as the the College of Engineering seeks to incorporate a design component into the first year curriculum for all engineering students.


Professor becomes Fellow of National Academy of Inventors

Dr. Sarit Bhaduri, professor of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering in the College of Engineering, and director of the Multifunctional Materials Laboratory, has been elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. He is the first faculty member from UT to be inducted into the academy.

Being elected to be a National Academy of Inventors Fellow is a high professional distinction granted to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a substantial impact on the quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.


“This award provides great recognition of Dr. Bhaduri’s success in translating his research into commercial opportunities that can provide great benefit to individuals,” Dr. Frank Calzonetti, vice president of research, said. “His ability to look for applications of his research is impressive, and this award is a signal that UT is a national leader in research and technology commercialization.”

“This recognition has an energizing effect on me for inventing newer processes and products for the benefit of the society,” Bhaduri said.

This is the third fellowship of a national body Bhaduri has been elected to, having been recognized as a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.

Bhaduri is listed as an inventor in approximately 35 U.S. and foreign patents, and has 37 applications pending. His inventions include wear resistant metallic alloys, innovative alkaline earth bone cement, antibacterial coatings, and synthesis of nanoparticles. He has strong expertise in the development of a wide array of materials used in structural applications, including orthopaedics and dentistry.

“I am excited and at the same time humbled by the fact that I will be joining a very elite group of people such as Nobel laureates and members of national academies of science, engineering and medicine,” Bhaduri said.

2016 Fellows will in inducted Thursday, April 6, at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.