UT College of Engineering News

Interim dean of College of Engineering named

by Megan Cunningham

A longtime leader in the College of Engineering will serve as interim dean of the college, Provost Andrew Hsu announced Dec 8.

Dr. Steven LeBlanc, professor and executive associate dean for fiscal affairs, will lead the college starting Jan. 9 to fill the vacancy created by longtime dean Dr. Nagi Naganathan, who has accepted the presidency of Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls, Ore.

LeBlanc

LeBlanc

“Dr. Naganathan provided great leadership to the College of Engineering for many years, and we wish him well in his new opportunity as president of Oregon Tech,” Hsu said. “Steve has proven himself to be a strong leader, and I appreciate his willingness to again step into the role of interim dean to continue to advance the college.”

Hsu said the University will conduct a national search for a permanent dean for the College of Engineering with the goal to have that person in place for fall 2017.

“I appreciate the opportunity to serve in this role to support our faculty and students and continue the positive momentum of our college,” LeBlanc said. “The College of Engineering has a strong team dedicated to the success of our students, and I am honored to be asked to lead them during this transition. The College of Engineering will miss Dean Naganathan, and we wish him every success as the new president of Oregon Tech.”

LeBlanc joined the College of Engineering in 1980 and led the Department of Chemical Engineering from 1993 to 2003 when he joined the dean’s office to oversee academic affairs. Prior to coming to UT, he spent three years as a chemical engineer at Toledo Edison.

He is co-author of two textbooks, “Strategies for Creative Problem Solving,” which received the American Society of Engineering Education Meriam/Wiley Distinguished Author Award, and “Process Systems Analysis and Control,” a chemical engineering textbook from McGraw-Hill.

LeBlanc, who was named an American Institute of Chemical Engineers Fellow in 2010, has received the UT Outstanding Teacher Award and the American Society for Engineering Education North Central Section Outstanding Teaching Award.

He is a graduate of UT with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan and is a registered professional engineer in the state of Ohio.


UT engineering students to show off senior design projects

A bike plan for the UT campus, a food truck tracker, a redesign of Carter Hall, a mechanical arm for a youth, and a plan for urban greening in the Vistula Neighborhood are a few of the projects that will be on display at The University of Toledo College of Engineering’s Fall 2016 Undergraduate Research and Senior Design Project Exposition.

The public is invited to take a look at more than 60 student projects at the Undergraduate Research and Senior Design Engineering Project Exposition from noon to 3 p.m. Friday, December 9th in Nitschke Hall.

The College of Engineering sponsors the event to showcase design projects created by graduating seniors from the departments of Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering Technology, and Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.

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

For more information about the free, public exposition, call 419.530.8014 or email sandra.stewart@utoledo.edu.

All project descriptions can be found at: http://www.utoledo.edu/engineering/docs/2016SeniorDesignProjects.pdf


Electrical engineering student inspires LinkedIn campaign

Tyrone Jacobs Jr.’s drive to succeed is larger-than-life — like the ginormous image of him on a wall at LinkedIn headquarters in California.

A line from an April post is by his photo: “I will never, and I mean never, stop striving for greatness.”

Tyrone Jacobs Jr. visited LinkedIn headquarters in California last month. The networking company featured the UT student in a campaign.

Tyrone Jacobs Jr. visited LinkedIn headquarters in California last month. The networking company featured the UT student in a campaign.

“I got tagged in a post on LinkedIn. And I clicked on the link and it was me, and I was like, ‘Whoa!’ I had to stop. I thought: Is this for real? And I’m looking at it, and it’s for real — a wall, a mural, dedicated in my honor in their headquarters,” the UT junior majoring in electrical engineering said.

“Anybody who works at LinkedIn in California can see me all day — right there when you walk to the café — it’s a huge plastering of me,” he said. “I can’t put what it means into words.”

It all began in March when Jacobs attended the National Society of Black Engineers conference in Boston and interviewed with Boeing Co. In April, he was offered a summer internship with the world’s largest aerospace company and manufacturer of commercial jets.

“I got the offer, and I posted about it on my LinkedIn account,” he recalled.

Heartfelt and candid, the post began: “To be real, statistically, I should be dead or in jail. I’m a young black man that was raised in the hood by a single mother that had to support three other family members along with me. I don’t even know what to say. How did I make it this far in my life when the odds were always against me? I’m so in shock. I came from practically nothing and to get an offer from Boeing for an electromagnetics effects position just absolutely blows me away… I will never, and I mean never, stop striving for greatness.”

Tyrone Jacobs Jr. posed for a photo last month by his mural at LinkedIn headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

Tyrone Jacobs Jr. posed for a photo last month by his mural at LinkedIn headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

“The post just blew up,” Jacobs said. “It really took off like a rocket. It had 13,000 to 14,000 likes and comments.”

In fact, the post received so much attention that LinkedIn invited Jacobs to visit. He traveled to the business networking giant’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., in April.

“I flew out there for a photo shoot and a video shoot. My video is on the YouTube channel if you type in ‘defying the odds Tyrone Jacobs Jr.,’ you’ll see me with my big cheesy smile on the thumbnail of the video,” he said and laughed.

More than 3,500 have viewed that video, and thousands have seen Jacobs on LinkedIn’s wall, which went up during the summer.

“I’m just trying to spread my story to inspire someone,” he said.

Jacobs

Jacobs

It’s a moving tale about a boy born in Chicago who grew up in Toledo.

“I lived in a bad neighborhood. I come from where people don’t make it from. I saw a lot of police, violence, gangs, drugs — all these things you see in a movie or on TV, I was seeing in real life,” he said. “Sometimes we didn’t have electricity or food. And I didn’t have a father.

“My mom, she was so focused on me, going to school and keeping my grades up, making sure I was taking care of my business.”

Since the family didn’t have a computer, with his mom’s encouragement, Jacobs went to the library every day after school.

“My mom talks about that now, how I was always so studious. I was trying to get away from all the negative stuff around me,” he said.

His mom continues to motivate him.

“She’s worked so hard over the years, and she’s done what she can with so little,” Jacobs said. “She’s my inspiration. If I can make a better situation for her and the rest of my family, that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.”

Tyrone Jacobs Jr. met LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner last month.

Tyrone Jacobs Jr. met LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner last month.

The 2012 graduate of Toledo Technology Academy has impressed many.

“Tyrone sets a great example of what all of our students can achieve. They are ready to take on major roles in industry and start making an impact right away, even before graduation, in Tyrone’s case,” Dr. Nagi Naganathan, dean of the College of Engineering, said. “Tyrone exemplifies the kind of leadership we want our students to embody. I don’t doubt that his perseverance and dedication will pay off in ways he has yet to realize.”

“I think Tyrone’s story is inspiring to anyone,” Dr. Mansoor Alam, professor and chair of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, said. “It proves there is light at the end of the tunnel, but only for those who keep on and on — moving forward as Tyrone did.”

“I find Tyrone an inspiration,” Christie Hennen, associate director of student services in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, said. “He never gives up on his goals. When faced with challenges, Tyrone perseveres and does it with a positive attitude.”

Jacobs found his passion in a high school digital electronics class. Choosing to attend The University of Toledo was easy.

“The main reason was because UT has a really strong College of Engineering. And the fact that the school is close to home, all my family is here,” he said. “I got offered scholarships as well to come here and pursue my education. Everything worked out.”

Tyrone Jacobs Jr. smiled for the camera at the LinkedIn Café during a visit in October.

Tyrone Jacobs Jr. smiled for the camera at the LinkedIn Café during a visit in October.

That includes landing internships with two Fortune 500 companies. In 2015, Jacobs worked in information technology at Eaton Corp. in Maumee.

Then there was Boeing: “I had a chance to see employees design airplane wings and other parts of airplanes. I was looking at military aircrafts, all this super-cool and confidential stuff that people usually don’t have a chance to see.”

Last month, Jacobs experienced more rarities when he returned to LinkedIn.

“I flew out there to meet with some of the people who have been working on my stuff,” he said. “And I was kind of a celebrity there in a sense for a moment. I was walking through the building, and everybody was freaking out: ‘Wait! Is this the guy?’ Everybody is stopping their work just to say hi. That felt pretty cool.”

As if that wasn’t enough, Jacobs met LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner.

“He was very humble, relaxed and cool. He shook my hand, we took a picture, I got to pick his brain for a little bit. He actually said, ‘I remember you, I liked your post.’ He actually likes my posts. I’ve never had a CEO of anything like my posts. I see his name pop up, and I’m just like wow, he genuinely likes my stuff. It’s crazy.”

Back on campus, Jacobs is concentrating on classes. He is president of the UT chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and a member of the Roy and Marcia Ames Engineering Leadership Institute, and he is an information technology desktop support assistant in the College of Arts and Letters. Carrying a grade point average above 3.0, Jacobs plans to graduate in fall 2017 with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering and a minor in business administration. He’s applied for another internship with Boeing, this time in California, and hopes to get an offer letter soon.

“I want to use my all for everything that I’m doing right now — school, work, all my leadership on campus — everything I’m doing, I have to give it my 120 percent every day, not complaining, not making excuses, just getting the job done,” he said.

“I want to keep growing, making more moves, and keeping my eyes on the prize, and not stop until I get there.”


Engineering faculty helps science center get early education grant

Toledo’s Imagination Station received more than $300,000 Tuesday to help with early childhood education in science, technology, engineering, and math.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Ohio) was at the museum to award the $311,676 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Miss Kaptur said the award was one of only 13 granted from a national field of 60 applicants.

“There are many places in our country that have no Imagination Station,” she said. “There are many places that have no Toledo Zoo, there are many places that have no Toledo Museum of Art. If we look at our legacy, those who came before and those who give generously now really says a lot about this place we call home. This is coming at a great time for Imagination Station and a time when our young children in this community need some extra help across the board.”

Lori Hauser, chief executive officer of the Imagination Station, said the grant will help expand existing programming and set up a program shared with other facilities nationwide once it is finished within the next several years.

Ms. Hauser said middle-class parents have conversations with their preschool children five times more than families in poverty do.

“Every child going into kindergarten should have those same sets of opportunities and skill sets, so we would like to see the programming we’re able to set with parents help everyone across Lucas County first and then on a national level,” Ms. Hauser said.

The grant’s goal is to promote meaningful play for preschoolers, to create interaction between parents or caregivers and children, and to offer tools that can be used in learning facilities.

The grant will allow Imagination Station to launch Toddler Tuesday, quarterly science nights, and after-school programming.

In addition, the grant will let Imagination Station work with the University of Toledo to develop family packs that focus on vocabulary skills. The museum also will work with the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library to choose monthly book selections to encourage literacy.

“It’s trying to prepare a child with a well-rounded base of knowledge to set them up for success,” Miss Kaptur said.

Charlene Czerniak, research and engineering professor at UT, said many jobs require a solid foundation in science, technology, engineering, and math, making it important to teach children hands-on skills at a young age.

“We really know we have to start with young children,” Ms. Czerniak said, adding the grant will allow children and their parents or caregivers to get involved in science and engineering practices, and to help children who are curious about a subject. “[Children] are so curious about the world, so it’s a fun way to get young children learning the knowledge and skills that are needed.”

Miss Kaptur said these programs will help the region’s children arrive at kindergarten ready to learn.

“We have our work cut out for us in helping our youth develop in those early years,” Ms. Kaptur said. “Children are full of questions when they’re very young. This is meant to pique their curiosity and to lead them to adventures in learning about science.”

Ms. Hauser said Imagination Station’s partners in the programs related to the grant include Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Aspire, the University of Toledo, Polly Fox Academy, Summit YMCA Head Start, and the Early Learners Collaborative.

Contact Geoff Burns at: gburns@theblade.com or 419-724-6110.


Green chemistry, safer products to be discussed during Oct. 12 webinar

UT and the School of Green Chemistry and Engineering are sponsoring a webinar on the increasing demand for green chemistry and safer products. It will take place Wednesday, Oct. 12, from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Nitschke Hall SSOE Seminar Room.

The School of Green Chemistry and Engineering is partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Ohio EPA and Spartan Chemical for this event.

web-Green-Chemistry-Safer-Choices-Webinar-UpdateThis webinar will showcase a company’s decision to develop green products under the EPA’S Safer Choice Program.

“Consumers are seeking to live more sustainably through life style choices and the use of green products,” said Dr. Glenn Lipscomb, UT professor and chair of chemical and environmental engineering, who helped organize the webinar. “However, sometimes it is not clear what labeling something green means. The webinar will help educate participants on what the Safer Choice label means and the requirements for products to receive it.”

In addition, members of the School of Green Chemistry and Engineering will describe their educational programs.

Hosting this webinar will provide regional and national visibility to UT’s programs in green chemistry and engineering, according to Dr. Mark Mason, professor of chemistry and director of the School of Green Chemistry and Green Engineering.

“The mission of the school is to improve the human condition through research, education and outreach activities that promote safe and sustainable use, production and recycle of chemical materials,” Mason said.

To register visit tinyurl.com/saferchoiceweb. Attendees may participate virtually through the live webinar or in person at the broadcast. Details on both options will be provided upon registration.

For more information, email sgce@utoledo.edu.


Researcher receives grant to study removal of algal bloom toxins from drinking water sources

The National Science Foundation awarded a civil and environmental engineer at The University of Toledo a $224,937 grant to study a sustainable approach to water treatment and filtering toxins from harmful algal blooms.

Dr. Youngwoo Seo, associate professor of civil engineering and chemical and environmental engineering, will lead the three-year project titled “Engineering Biofilm Dynamics for Cyanotoxins in Biological Water Treatment.”

Seo

Seo

Seo is seeking to better understand how bacteria works in order to improve the filters that remove harmful toxins from drinking water.

“To protect the public from emerging contaminants like cyanotoxins in drinking water sources, various advanced water treatment processes are considered,” Seo said. “However, these processes commonly require high-energy demand and operation cost with proper waste management. This project is exploring a sustainable treatment approach using bacterially active filters to remove toxins from harmful algal blooms.”

“There could not be a more timely and more important research project to award than this,” Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur said. “Lake Erie is under constant threat of toxic algal blooms, and we need to find a more sustainable way to treat the water. Our entire region — our economic future and our livelihood — relies on ongoing research such as this at The University of Toledo.”

According to the National Science Foundation grant, “Research emphasis will be placed on understanding how the bacterial biofilm formation and activity can be enhanced and maintained by engineered approaches such as bioaugmentation and bio-stimulation in order to improve performances of biological filtration systems for cyanotoxin removal.”


UT Engineering Fall Career Expo Sept. 21

The University of Toledo Engineering Career Development Center will host the Fall 2016 Engineering Career Expo Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Representatives from more than 160 companies will be available to talk to students and alumni of the UT College of Engineering.

This event is held to connect students with companies seeking talent needed for success.

“Many companies from across the United States participate in this event,” said
Dr. Vickie Kuntz, director of the Engineering Career Development Center. “A few of the nationally recognized companies scheduled to participate include BP America, Eaton Corp., Fiat Chrysler, FirstEnergy, GE Appliances, Honda, Johnson & Johnson, KIEWIT, Marathon and SSOE Group. The quality of the attending companies speaks highly to the quality of our engineering students.”

The expo is a great opportunity for job-seeking students to network with employers, Kuntz added.

More than 600 students annually attend the event, and Kuntz expects between 600 and 700 students and alumni to participate at this fall expo as well.

The expo is open to University of Toledo College of Engineering students who are enrolled in the mandatory co-op program. Additionally, alumni of the UT College of Engineering and students searching for full-time opportunities are welcome.

The UT Engineering Fall 2016 Career Expo will be held at the College of Engineering from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Attendees can pre-register the morning of the event from 9 to 11 a.m. or register just prior to the event starting at 12:15 p.m. in North Engineering Building Room 1022.


Patent approved for new spine testing device developed by UT bioengineer

A University of Toledo research professor received a patent for a new device designed to assist with fine-tuning spinal surgeries.

Manoj Kodigudla, research engineer in Dr. Vijay Goel’s lab, made adjustments to the spine testing device in the lab.

Manoj Kodigudla, research engineer in Dr. Vijay Goel’s lab, made adjustments to the spine testing device in the lab.

Manoj Kodigudla, research engineer in Dr. Vijay Goel’s lab, made adjustments to the spine testing device in the lab.

Dr. Vijay Goel, professor of bioengineering and co-director of the Engineering Center for Orthopedic Research Excellence, said the Simplified Spine Testing Device standardizes the range-of-motion testing for pre- and post-surgical procedures.

“The device is used on cadaver samples in the lab to design the surgical process from start to finish,” Goel said. “This standardization greatly reduces the amount of time needed to test range of motion using CT scans and other imaging.”

The patent also was assigned to The University of Toledo, ATS Holdings LLC, the University of Kansas, Norman L. Carroll, Edward C. Cartwright, Robert J. Gephardt, Christopher L. Dixon and Elizabeth A. Friis. The Simplified Spine Testing Device has been licensed to Applied Testing Systems LLC for continued
development and commercialization.

Additionally, Goel and his colleagues Dr. Anand Agarwal and Dr. Sarit Bhaduri, UT professors of bioengineering, founded a spinal biological startup company called OsteoNovus. Goel and Agarwal also founded Spinal Balance, and co-developed other medical devices, including the Libra Pedicle Screw System. The pre-sterilized, individually packaged screw system was designed to reduce the risk of surgical infection for spine surgery patients.


Reverse osmosis seen as solution for toxin

GIBRALTAR ISLAND, Ohio — Through a new research project, a University of Toledo scientist believes he can show that reverse osmosis — a technology pioneered in the 1960s to take salt out of seawater — could likewise remove any algal toxins that get into tap water like they did for three days during the 2014 Toledo water crisis.

While many experts believe in the premise outlined by G. Glenn Lipscomb, professor and chairman of UT’s chemical and environmental engineering department, the theory still needs to be tested for under-sink reverse osmosis systems people can buy from home improvement stores for about $250. If validated, the research could strengthen the market for those devices and give homeowners a chance for more peace of mind.

“I guarantee you it will take out 99 percent of microcystin,” said Joseph Cotruvo, a former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency water division chief who spent years as an international water-treatment consultant and has been a member of a World Health Organization committee examining dangers of microcystin, Lake Erie’s chief algal toxin.

Mr. Lipscomb’s research, part of a $1.9 million Ohio Department of Higher Education award split among eight Ohio universities, is supported by Ann Arbor-based NSF International, which specializes in science for testing standards at water-treatment plants.

He said other partners include Dow Water & Process Solutions, a division of Dow Chemical, and the National University of Singapore, in collaboration with Singapore Public Utilities Board.

Some of the world’s top water research occurs in water-stressed Singapore.

During a recent presentation at Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory on Gibraltar Island, near Put-in-Bay, Mr. Lipscomb said reverse osmosis technology came of age in the 1960s in parallel with desalination, the process by which salt is removed from seawater. The technology became much more fine-tuned about 1980, he said.

Reverse osmosis is a process that goes against the natural tendencies that solvent, water-based molecules have to mix together and equalize.

Instead, water is pushed hard — very hard — under pressure through a semi-permeable membrane so fine that it can filter out impurities down to the molecular level. The water on the other side that has been squeezed through the membrane is free of impurities.

The theory is algal toxins could be removed like salt particles, minerals, and other solids.

“It’s to provide the public with that certainty,” Mr. Lipscomb said of his research project.

There are at least two downsides: Reverse osmosis is incredibly energy-intensive because of the amount of pressure required. And there can be as much or more wastewater generated as good water from the technique.

In industrial uses, some minerals actually have to be added back in to stabilize water that has gone through a reverse osmosis treatment; otherwise, it would corrode pipes.

For those reasons, experts such as Mr. Cotruvo, while highly interested in what Mr. Lipscomb finds out, wonder how practical it would be for average homeowners.

Mr. Lipscomb said he doesn’t have a treatment system at his home.

“There’s nothing wrong with Toledo water now,” he said.

But he said his research offers promise if western Lake Erie’s chronic algae problem worsens, something which has happened in recent years.

After 20 years with little or no algae, microcystis — one of the main producers of microcystin — began appearing annually in western Lake Erie again in 1995. Records show it has come on stronger since 2002, with a record bloom recorded in 2011.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists were so confident that was the worst it would get they used that bloom as the end point for a predictive forecasting model they developed on a 1 to 10 scale, with 2011 being the 10.

The 2015 bloom smashed that record, setting the bar higher.

This year has been far different. Much like 2012, drought conditions have limited runoff and resulted in a lot less algae.

But microcystis — one of Earth’s oldest-living organisms at 3.5 billions years old — has been on the rise globally the last 20 years for reasons scientists don’t fully understand. It wasn’t even Lake Erie’s dominant algae when the lake began to heal following passage of the federal Clean Water Act of 1972, which ushered in the modern era of sewage treatment.

Many experts believe, though, that climate change and poor land use mean this region and others will be battling algae for years to come.

A blue ribbon committee formed in response to the 2014 water crisis never priced the cost of installing reverse osmosis in Toledo’s aging Collins Park Water Treatment Plant because it didn’t seem to be a good match for the city, not just because of expenses but also because of the way that plant is designed, Andy McClure, Collins Park Water Treatment Plant superintendent, said.

“To the blue ribbon panel, it was obvious. It was impractical,” Mr. McClure said. “It could be corrosive and is very energy intensive…. It never really did an estimate of it.”

Instead, the city is spending millions of dollars to modernize and expand the plant in other ways. One of the cornerstones of that work, approved by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, is to use ozone treatment as a finishing process to remove more impurities while also improving taste and reducing odors.

One of America’s largest water-treatment plants using reverse osmosis is a Southern California plant operated by the Orange County Water District, which processes 100 million gallons of water a day for nearly 850,000 Orange County residents.

Other large ones are in Florida.

Toledo processes up to 120 million gallons a day for about 500,000 metro area residents.

By comparison, the world’s largest desalination plant is the Sorek plant in Israel, near Tel Aviv, which processes 150 million gallons a day.

Bowling Green installed reverse osmosis system at its much smaller water-treatment plant in 2011.

The Bowling Green plant — built in 1950 and expanded in 1968 — has an average capacity of 7.2 million gallons a day, but is rated to produce up to 11 million gallons a day.

Mike Fields, assistant Bowling Green water superintendent, said reverse osmosis was installed to remove potentially dangerous chlorine byproducts known as trihalomethanes.

Toledo removes its with a different process.

He said it “takes a lot of electricity” to push water through the reverse osmosis system.

For a facility as big as Toledo’s, ozone makes sense, Mr. Fields said.

“The wave of the future — if you’re talking about toxins, it’s probably ozone,” he said. “It depends on the plant.”

Mr. Lipscomb believes the future is in reverse osmosis, especially if costs and logistics can be worked out.

“My guess is that as this treatment gets affordable, it will be in more water-treatment plants,” Mr. Lipscomb said. “To me, this technology solves all problems we’re concerned with with water.”

He said it’s “going to require convincing the public this is a long-term investment they need.”

“It’s like switching over from fossil fuels to renewables,” Mr. Lipscomb said.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com, 419-724-6079, or via Twitter @ecowriterohio.


UT researchers awarded grant to study how to increase diversity in engineering workforce

The National Science Foundation awarded $123,859 to a team of researchers at The University of Toledo to study the factors affecting the success and career choices of underrepresented minority engineering students.

The two-year project will compare factors at UT and Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University.

The study will focus on the attitudes and beliefs of faculty and staff, existing institutional support mechanisms and the role of student organizations. The research will examine the effects these have on the social and academic integration of African American students.

“The broader impact of this project is that it addresses the national need to diversify the engineering workforce,” said Lesley Berhan, the project’s principal investigator and associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. “The results will be used to identify areas where existing practices might be improved and to inform the design of programs and intervention strategies to improve the success of underrepresented engineering students not only at our home institutions, but at institutions across the country.”

Berhan will work with Revathy Kumar, professor of educational psychology, and Willie McKether, vice president for diversity and inclusion, on the project titled, “Factors Affecting Underrepresented Minority Student Success and Pathways to Engineering Careers at Majority and Minority Institutions.”

According to the National Science Foundation project summary, “While inadequate college preparation is a contributing factor in the low enrollment and poor retention and graduation rates among underrepresented students in engineering programs, there is evidence that professional persistence is directly linked to identity development and social and academic interactions.”

“Once again, The University of Toledo is on the forefront of cross-cutting, long-term research that will determine our economic destiny,” Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur said. “It’s important for future generations and our economic standing to understand and develop the means to maximize opportunity for all of our citizens to contribute to their best God-given abilities.  This research aims to do that.”