Nevada Engineering 2020
William N. Pennington Engineering Building
Nevada Engineering | Fall 2020
The stories of the students and faculty in the College of Engineering who are making a world of difference through their research, outreach and service.
Greetings from Dean Manos Maragakis
This spring, when the coronavirus provided an unprecedented global challenge, the staff and faculty in the College of Engineering found ways to help in the fight against COVID-19. Using 3D printers, they produced personal protective equipment for distribution to medical personnel; they began work on more efficient tests for the virus; they adapted drones to disinfect hospital rooms and public spaces; they started research on novel AI-based smart sensors to detect COVID-19 symptoms via telehealth conferences; and they secured nearly $2 million in grant funding to perform wastewater testing to determine the prevalence of the virus in our community.
Meanwhile, with proper precautions in place, construction on the 100,000-square-foot William N. Pennington Engineering Building continued. As it opens this fall, the building promises to help the College continue its mission to serve the community through research that improves lives, while bolstering Nevada's workforce. From its 150 graduate workstations to the Davidson Foundation ISO Class 5 (Class 100) Cleanroom, it will facilitate scholarship and research that will shape the future of our region, our nation and our world.
For me, the opening of the building is the fulfillment of a vision more than a decade in the making. When I first took my position as dean, providing our College with a state-of-the-art facility was my priority. While it is personally satisfying to open the new building, what is more gratifying is knowing that it will help our students and faculty achieve their goals. As you will read in the feature article, Dr. Jeongwon Park will use the cleanroom to perform new research not only in pursuit of innovations in advanced manufacturing but also in medical applications. Without the cleanroom, this life-changing research would simply be impossible. Meanwhile, graduate student Lauren Mazurowski will use one of the lab spaces to further her work in enhancing access to clean drinking water the world over. Their drive and determination exemplify the problem-solving spirit that is at the heart of the engineering profession. And they are only two of the more than 200 students and faculty who will work in the 40 laboratories in the new building, each striving tirelessly to make a world of difference.
Even as we look forward, I am proud to recognize the efforts of our students and faculty in these challenging times. In the past year, more than $22 million in new grant funding was secured, contributing to our reputation as an R-1 Research Institution. We launched a new Ph.D. in Engineering Education and an M.S. in Cybersecurity. We developed a construction management program, and new faculty hires in aerospace engineering allow us to continue a tradition of excellence in aerospace engineering that this year's Scrugham Medalist, Joel Madison '86 (mechanical engineering), and many other alumni have built over the years. As a result of sustained effort of this highest level, this March, the College and all of its programs were ranked by the U.S. News and World Report.
During these difficult times, I am grateful to share some of the good news from our College with you. As always, our students, staff and faculty seek answers to the problems we face. The stories in this issue of Nevada Engineering are a reminder that, even now, the drive to improve the world and to work together for the common good remains strong.
Finally, it is my honor to acknowledge Marc Johnson as he steps down from his post as president of the University. Under his leadership, the University has strengthened its position as a leading institution of higher education, earning both the Carnegie R-1 Classification for Very High Research Activity and the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. Together, these designations denote our emphasis on high-impact research and community-focused service. For your exceptional leadership, thank you, President Johnson.
With the departure of President Johnson, we are proud to welcome our next University President: former Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval ’86 (English). An exceptional advocate for higher education during his tenure as governor and an outstanding example of what is possible with a Nevada education, Governor Sandoval will strive to lead the University into new levels of excellence and competitiveness and make seminal contributions to our State, the Nation and the World. I look forward to working with him to ensure our college and our campus continue to thrive. Welcome, President Sandoval!
Dean, College of Engineering
University of Nevada, Reno
Thank you, President Johnson
With gratitude for the 16th President of the University of Nevada, Reno (2011-2020)
Welcome, President Sandoval
Brian Sandoval began his tenure as the 17th President of the University of Nevada, Reno on October 5, 2020
While the opening of the 100-000-square-foot William N. Pennington Engineering Building will enable unprecedented research to solve problems both locally and globally, a grant to support K-12 outreach and a new Ph.D. program in engineering education will improve learning outcomes for learners of all backgrounds. Meanwhile, our researchers are doing their part in the fight against COVID-19.
William N Pennington Engineering Building construction site
University partners with cities to study COVID-19 virus prevalence in wastewater
The Nevada Water Innovation Institute based in the College of Engineering, along with regional agency partners, is monitoring Truckee Meadows wastewater to determine the level of COVID-19 in the community and develop a predictive tool for COVID-19 management in the future.
“My research group has been collecting wastewater samples since May at the three water reclamation facilities in the region to measure the viral signatures (an inactive RNA fragment of the SARS-CoV-2 virus) of COVID-19 which allows us to determine the presence of COVID-19 in the community as well potentially tell us about community prevalence,” Krishna Pagilla, director or the Nevada Water Innovation Institute, who is leading the study, said.
The College of Engineering K12 Outreach Educational Programs receive grant support
The grant will increase outreach in rural areas while expanding solar and water education programs.
New Ph.D. program will improve engineering education for all learners
The College of Engineering aims to improve classroom practices and increase diversity in the field.
U.S. News & World Report Rankings
U.S. News & World Report released its annual national graduate school rankings in March. For the first time ever, the College of Engineering and all graduate engineering programs housed within it received rankings. Eleven years ago, only the civil engineering program was ranked and the college itself appeared for the first time.
Of the future of the college, Dean Maragakis said, “The best is yet to come.”
Dean Manos Maragakis
“Combined with innovative curricula and dedicated mentorship from leading faculty, the new laboratories and study spaces will enable our exceptional students to flourish. The William N. Pennington Engineering Building unlocks a tremendous potential to turn visions of a better, safer world into reality.”
NOTES FROM AN R1 RESEARCH INSTITUTION
$22 Million in 2019-2020
It was another great year for research in the University of Nevada, Reno's College of Engineering. With support from the Engineering Research Office, the faculty in the College of Engineering submitted 349 grant proposals and received $22 million in grant funding for projects designed to improve the world. We are proud to share some of the many highlights from the year in review. While we look back on a successful year, with $4 million in grants in June alone, we also look forward to another successful year of advancing knowledge, solving problems and solidifying our reputation as an R1 Research Institution.
University earns designation as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD)
The B.S. in computer science with a minor in cybersecurity degree program earns prestigious CAE-CD designation from the NSA and the DHS.
Biomedical engineering discovery is latest example of commercialization
Patented technology by College of Engineering faculty member may have application in clinical testing and bioassay processes.
What does it take to receive a National Science Foundation CAREER award?
For her work on battery performance, Feifei Fan is one of three University professors to earn NSF CAREER award
NEWIR manure challenges modern agricultural issues
The innovative project requires significant interaction between engineers, social scientists and animal nutrition scientists.
“Our lives should not be sacrificed this easily”: Camp Fire tragedy leads to new wildfire research
The NSF has awarded Assistant Professor Hamed Ebrahimian a $2 million grant to develop novel wildfire risk assessment and mitigation tools.
Early-career investigator in mechanical engineering wins prestigious fellowship in interdisciplinary research
Dr. Floris van Breugel studies insects for inspiration in designing robust and novel control systems for robots.
Transformation of face recognition technology and representation for faces nets grant
Emily Hand’s research will benefit society by producing techniques capable of recognizing faces in low-quality images seen in surveillance footage, human-computer interaction settings.
Dean Manos Maragakis
"The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education R1 (or very high research activity) designation is reserved for the highest level of research activity at doctoral institutions. . . . The College of Engineering played a leading role in the University's efforts to attain R1 status, and I want to thank all of our dedicated faculty, students and staff for their signficant contributions."
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People in hard hats in engineering earthquake laboratory
The College of Engineering gratefully acknowledges the support of Nevada Today and Nevada Silver & Blue in making these stories possible. Special thanks to Mike Wolterbeek, Karl Fendelander, Jane Tors, Moses Achoka, Sarah Strang, Isaac Hoops and Nikki Moylan.
The Corporate Partners program at the College of Engineering of the University of Nevada, Reno brings together a select group of companies and firms to collaborate with engineering and computer science educators, researchers and students. The mission of the program is to generate interactions between the College and the Corporate Partners that bridge the gap between theory and practice and bring a competitive edge to the College of Engineering, the partners, the region, the state and the nation.
The College of Engineering is proud to partner with the following companies.