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Engineering for Human Good




Engineers at UTA are

using big data analytics to
predict diseases, fact-check
politicians, and much more.


The College of Engineering is the

third-largest in Texas





Peter E. Crouch

Senior Associate Dean

for Academic Affairs


A CAREER Quartet In recent

months, four engineering assistant
professors have earned the National
Science Foundations highest award
for junior faculty.

Lynn Peterson

Associate Dean for

Graduate Affairs

Pranesh Aswath


Associate Dean
for Research

Anand Puppala

Assistant Dean for

Student Affairs


J. Carter Tiernan

Director of Communications

Jeremy Agor


Director of Marketing Services

Tracey Faulkinbury

Vice President
for Communications

Lynne T. Waters

Offers 10 bachelors,
14 masters, and nine doctoral degrees
on an elite list of
r-1: Doctoral Universities


Jessica Bridges


Brody Price


Herb Booth
David Campbell

highest research activity

Cover Illustration by Daniel Hertzberg

Because a closer look is an opportunity

to DISCOVER. Especially in a place
where exploration is LIMITLESS.

Check us out at

What will

YOU see when you take a closer look?

UTA Engineer is published by

University Communications.
Reproduction in whole or part
without written permission
is prohibited. The comments
and opinions expressed in this
magazine do not necessarily
represent those of The University
of Texas at Arlington or the
staff of UTA Engineer. Copyright
2016, The University of Texas
at Arlington. UTA does not
discriminate on the basis of race,
color, national origin, religion,
age, gender, sexual orientation,
disabilities, genetic information,
and/or veteran status in the
educational programs or activities
it operates. For more info, visit For info regarding
Title IX, visit
College of Engineering
UT Arlington Box 19019
Arlington, TX 76019

Making a Big Impact with Big Data Computer
scientists are making important breakthroughs in
a variety of fields by employing big data analytics.


Feel the Heat UTA will soon have
the nations only university-based
hypersonic testing facility for
thermal protection.





Guarding Against
Levee Breaks Anand
Puppala is creating a
framework to test if
dams have earthquake

Trash Collection
Landfill mining may
allow cities to create
more sustainable
waste management





Transforming Engineering
Education and Research

Peter E. Crouch
became the dean of the
College of Engineering
in August 2016. He has
been a dean of engineering for 21 years,
with stints at Arizona
State University and,
most recently, the University of Hawaii at
Mnoa. He is an electrical engineer whose
main goal now is to
ensure that the college
fulfills its role within
the University presidents vision, and more.

I am very pleased to introduce myself as the new Dean

of Engineering at The University of Texas at Arlington.
I am extremely excited about bringing to the college
many ideas that are transforming engineering education,
research, and outreach across the United States. I must
thank Dean Khosrow Behbehani for his great leadership of the college over the last three years. I assure you
that he and I have worked hard to ensure a seamless
I am delighted to learn about the many programs
in which the college is currently engaged and the many
accolades it has already earned. It will obviously take me time to digest all that the
college is doing and all the contributions it is making. Subsequently, I will decide
where best to steer the college while helping UTA grow as an institution under the
leadership of President Vistasp M. Karbhari, who, significantly, is also an engineer. I
would be pleased to hear about your thoughts on ways the college can grow to better
meet the needs of its stakeholders, especially before the end of this year.
The College of Engineering and the University have the great advantage of offering many disciplines, both in engineering and outside engineering, supported by a
very robust student enrollment. This allows the faculty to not only lead disciplinary
education and research programs, but also to team together to pursue many of societys multidisciplinary challenges, such as health care, wealth creation, and manufacturing, security, sustainability, global warming, and infrastructure issues. Over the
next few years I plan to report back to you on developing pinnacles of national and
international preeminence pursued by our faculty impacting these challenges, along
with celebrations of our student achievements and the colleges contributions to economic development.

Peter E. Crouch
Dean, College of Engineering




UTA Receives R-1 Designation

The University of Texas at Arlington was
awarded R-1: Doctoral UniversitiesHighest
Research Activity designation by the Carnegie
Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. This puts UTA in an elite group of 115
universities, including Harvard, MIT, and Johns
This is a tremendous validation of UTAs
emergence as a preeminent university on the
national stage, says President Vistasp M. Karbhari. Being ranked as a Research 1 university
places us truly among the best of the best.
The Carnegie Classification is the definitive

list for the top doctoral research universities in

the United States. Institutions are assigned to
categories of highest, higher, and moderate
research activity based on the following correlates: research and development expenditures in
both science and engineering and in non-science
and engineering fields; science and engineering
research staff including post-doctoral candidates and non-faculty staff with doctorates; and
doctoral conferrals in humanities and social
sciences fields, in STEM fields, and in other areas
such as business, education, public policy, and
social work.

Krish Prabhu, AT&T chief technology officer and president of AT&T

Labs, was named to the College of
Engineerings Hall of Achievement
during the colleges annual awards
and scholarship banquet. He also
has been appointed as a research
professor in the Department of
Computer Science and Engineering.
Im excited to be affiliated with
this incredible institution and look
forward to being a resource for the
students who will make a positive
impact on the technologies of the
future, Dr. Prabhu says.
Before joining AT&T in 2011,
Prabhu was CEO of Tellabs and
COO of Alcatel in Paris. His career
includes corporate leadership positions with Rockwell Telecom and
Bell Laboratories. He also worked
at UTA as an adjunct electrical engineering professor in the mid-1980s.
Dr. Prabhus extensive experience in cybersecurity and big data
and in leading innovation at a major
global corporationwill help our
faculty and students develop transformative new programs to move us
forward in the area of data-driven
discovery, says Duane Dimos, UTA
vice president for research.



Csallner, Alumnus Win
Distinguished Paper Award
The Association for Computing Machinery
awarded its SIGSOFT (Special Interest Group
on Software Engineering) Distinguished Paper
Award to computer science and engineering
Associate Professor Christoph Csallner and UTA
alumnus Tuan Anh Tony Nguyen. Just
six of the 289 submitted papers were selected for
the award.
I am happy that the program committee
liked our paper. Its a huge honor to be recognized, says Dr. Csallner. Most importantly,

Tony was very happy because the idea behind

the paper was his and his hard work has been
Dr. Nguyen, who received his Ph.D. from UTA
in December 2015 and now works at Google,
developed a technique for the automatic conversion of screen designs into apps. The technology
creates user interfaces through information
obtained from images and only takes about nine
seconds to complete, drastically decreasing the
time required to create a working product.

Christoph Csallner
(right) and Tony
Nguyen were honored
by the Association for
Computing Machinery.



Ali Abolmaali, professor

and chair of the Civil
Engineering Department,
received the prestigious
Spangler Award from
ASTM International.
The Spangler Award is
presented to a member
of ASTM C13 who has
been highly active in
researching, writing,
and supplying data and
knowledge that changes
existing standards and

adds to the development

of new ones. ASTM C13,
a committee of approximately 200 members,
oversees more than 55
national and international standards.
It is a great honor to
be recognized by ASTM
with the Spangler Award,
Dr. Abolmaali says. It
is humbling to know
that my work in the
field of concrete pipes is

accepted internationally
as a gold standard.
Abolmaalis analytical
and large-scale experimental skills, along with
his research on fiberreinforced concrete, have
resulted in the adoption
of two new standards
within ASTM national
and international
specifications, as well as
improvements in several
other extant standards.


Frank Lewis, an electrical

engineering professor
and fellow of the National
Academy of Inventors
and the Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers, received
the American Institute
of Aeronautics and Astronautics 2016 Intelligent
Systems Award.
The award specifically
recognizes Dr. Lewis contributions to intelligent
neural-adaptive controls
that mimic the neural
networks in the brain.
This technology incorporates feedback mechanisms that improve
autopilot systems and
ensure that autonomous
aircraft follow prescribed
trajectories. The controls
patented by Lewis and
his collaborators have
been used widely to
develop highly reliable
flight control applications
for unmanned aircraft
I am deeply honored to
receive this award from
the worlds most prestigious technical society
dedicated to the global
aerospace profession,
Lewis says. The area of
intelligent systems is one
that I have known and
loved throughout my
career, and it is humbling
to be recognized for sharing my passion for innovation with others.


Shih-ho Simon Chao, an associate
professor of civil engineering, is the
latest engineering faculty member
to be honored with a UT System
Regents Outstanding Teaching
I feel privileged to be able to play
a part in the transformation of a
student to a future engineer. There
is nothing more satisfying than
making connections with students
as they begin to realize the value of
structural engineering, Dr. Chao
wrote in his acceptance note. My
teaching philosophy revolves
around helping all my students not
only to learn about structural engineering, but also to build confidence
concerning their ability to demonstrate their knowledge through
actual in-class and in-lab projects
that will prepare them for a future
in this ever-changing and challenging field.
The Outstanding Teaching
Awards were established in 2008
to recognize faculty members who
demonstrate extraordinary classroom performance and innovation
at the undergraduate level.


Robert Magnusson was

issued five U.S. patents
in less than one year.

Patent Fever Robert Magnusson has received many accolades

during his impressive career, but the electrical engineering professor and
Texas Instruments Distinguished Chair in Nanoelectronics recently experienced something new: receiving five patents in less than a year. Though hes
been issued patents before, the high volume and short timeframe took him
by surprise. When you apply for a patent it takes a while to break through
to the examiners and convince them it is a good development. So its always
cause for celebration when one is issued, Dr. Magnusson explains. When
you get five in short order, its very nice. Its never happened to me before.






Michael Cho is helping

diagnose traumatic
brain injuries in
soldiers exposed to
blast shockwaves.


Battle for the Brain Nearly 300,000 soldiers have

returned from service in Iraq and Afghanistan showing symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to blast shockwaves. But getting treatment
is often a struggle, as TBI can be hard to detect in traditional brain scans.
Michael Cho, professor and chair of the Bioengineering Department, hopes
to change that by better understanding the mechanisms that cause these
symptoms in the first place. If we can see that the blood-brain-barrier is
damaged, we can perhaps begin contemplating clinical strategies to treat the
cause, he says. His teams work is funded by a $1.24 million grant from the
Office of Naval Research Warfighter Performance Department.

A team of engineers and

chemists has proven that
concentrated light, heat,
and high pressures can
drive the one-step conversion of carbon dioxide
and water directly into
useable liquid hydrocarbon fuels.
This simple and inexpensive new sustainable
fuels technology could
potentially help limit
global warming by removing carbon dioxide from
the atmosphere to make
fuel. The process also
reverts oxygen back into
the system as a byproduct
of the reaction, providing
a further positive environmental effect.
In an article published
in the Proceedings of
the National Academy
of Sciences (Solar
Alkane Reverse Combustion), the researchers
demonstrated that the
one-step conversion
can be achieved in a
flow reactor operating
at temperatures of 180
to 200 degrees Celsius
and pressures up to 6
We are the first to use
both light and heat to
synthesize liquid hydrocarbons in a single-stage
reactor from carbon
dioxide and water, says
Professor Brian Dennis,
who is co-principal
investigator of the project. Concentrated light
drives the photochemical reaction, which
generates high-energy
intermediates and heat
to drive thermochemical
reactions, thus producing
hydrocarbons in a singlestep process.


What if diabetics never

had to prick their fingers
to monitor their bloodglucose levels? What if,
instead, they could rely
on an internal, nanoscale
device to analyze their
blood continuously and
transmit the readings to a
hand-held scanner?
Thats the life-transforming medical technol-

ogy Kyungsuk Yum is

His innovation would
use an injectable, nearinfrared optical biosensor
nanotube to read a persons blood-glucose levels
continuously, along with
an optical glucose scanner that would access the
data collected.
Blood-glucose monitoring is essential to every
diabetics life, says Dr.
Yum, a materials science
and engineering assistant

professor. This technology has the potential to

provide a better way to
manage diabetes and
improve the quality of
life for people who live
with it.
The American Diabetes
Association estimates
that there are more than
29 million diabetics in the
United States; the World
Health Organization
believes the worldwide
number is around 371

Guarding Against Levee Breaks

Civil engineering Professor Anand
Puppala is overseeing a three-year,
$1 million project from the Tarrant
Regional Water District to analyze
data taken at the Eagle Mountain
Lake dam and create a comprehensive, reliability-based framework that
future investigators can use to determine if dams have been affected by

Dr. Puppala and his team will
look for three key indicators of such
damage: liquefaction, dynamic slope

stability, and lateral spreading.

It is important to develop this
framework because we know that
more earthquakes are happening in
North Texas, even though we dont
know why, explains Puppala, who is
also the associate dean for research
in the College of Engineering. Dams
in this region were not designed to
withstand seismic events, so we want
to be able to test them ahead of time
to determine if they are in danger of
Anand Puppala is
testing the Eagle
Mountain Lake dam for
earthquake damage.


Lung cancer doctors know that
precise medical imaging can help
surgeons eradicate tumors and
preserve healthy tissue. But current
techniques are uncomfortable, as
they depend on scanning equipment that is pressed onto a patients
chest. Further, the images they
produce are expensive to process
and may not provide an accurate
depiction of the tumor site.
Shouyi Wang, an assistant
professor in the Industrial, Manufacturing, and Systems Engineering
Department, is working on a solution with medical researchers at the
University of Washington.
His approach monitors respiratory gating (the movement of a
tumor that occurs when a patient
breathes) and uses the data collected to focus a radiology beam on
the targeted area when the chest
cavity is depressedthe moment
that provides for the clearest, most
precise picture of the cancerous site.
We will develop a powerful new
mathematical model that considers
different factors and predicts performance and the best method for a
particular patient, Dr. Wang says.



Helping Students Conquer Math


Accessing Research Nationwide, fewer underprivileged


ENGR 1300
teaches students
to apply math
principles to

Last fall, the College of Engineering introduced a

new course designed to make math more accessible for UTA engineering students.
ENGR 1300: Engineering Problem-Solving
takes an active-learning approach to help
new engineering students, typically freshmen,
understand problem-solving and how to apply
mathematical principles.
We know where our students struggle, so we
work in groups and with peer leaders to take a
complicated word problem, put it into an engineering context, then practice so students get


comfortable with using the engineering process

to solve problems, says Senior Lecturer David
Ewing, who oversees the course.
In addition, ENGR 1300 will teach MatLab
programming software used for many engineering applicationsalong with writing, time
management, and other skills students will need
when they enter the workforce.
If we can instill these lesson in students from
the beginning of their academic experience, they
will have greater success here and in their future
careers, says Dr. Ewing.

A longstanding relationship
between the College of Engineering
and local simulation company L-3
recently yielded a cohort of 20 L-3
employees who earned masters
degrees in software engineering
through classes taught at their
workplace. The successful collaboration strengthened L-3s workforce
and allowed the college to meet an
industry partners need.
The program was conceived by
Ron Cross, former director of engineering at L-3 and a member of the
College of Engineerings Advisory
The L-3 partnership has really
benefitted everyone involved, says
Professor and former engineering Dean Bill Carroll, who helped
develop the course. L-3s employees
have improved their knowledge and
skills, which will make the company
more competitive. The students
themselves have strengthened their
credentials and gotten to know each
other better, which should improve
communication. And UTA has
bolstered its relationship with L-3
and proven that it can be responsive
to the needs of local industry.
Former Senior Lecturer Mike
ODell taught the program.

and minority students are pursuing advanced degrees in health care fields.
To help change that, UTA has joined a project led by UT El Paso and funded
by a $22 million National Institutes of Health grant to expose undergrads
to research early in their academic careers. Bioengineering Professor Kytai
Nguyen heads UTAs effort, which matches UT El Paso students with UTA
faculty mentors during the summer and allows them to conduct research.



Enrollment increased 42
percent from fall 2013
to fall 2015, with record
enrollments each year.


The graduate engineering

program rose 20 spots in
U.S. News & World Reports
rankings over the past
two years, to No. 82. The
undergraduate program
rose six spots, to No. 98.


The College of Engineering became the states

third-largest engineering
school in 2015.


Research expenditures
from all engineeringrelated sources at UTA
reached $41 million in
2014-15, with $27 million
coming directly from the
colleges faculty.

Jonathan Eason is
a recent graduate
of the program.

A new project aims

to expose minority
and underprivileged
students to research.

Enrollment surpassed
7,000 students for the first
time in 2015, with 3,700
undergraduate and 3,337
graduate students.


Feel the Heat

SUPPLY: Electric
power is used to significantly increase
the flow temperature
via plasma discharge
between two

One-of-a-kind wind tunnel will help test heat shield materials for hypersonic vehicles.

o on, U T As C ol l e g e of Engineering will

boast the countrys only university-based,
arc-heated, hypersonic-testing facility for
thermal protection.
Luca Maddalena, associate professor of aerospace engineering, is leading the development of
a large-scale wind tunnel at the existing Aerodynamics Research Center, located in the southeast
corner of the main campus.
The tunnel will allow researchers to study and
test new heat shield materials by creating flows
with temperatures higher than 4,000 degrees
Fahrenheit that use more than 1.6 megawatts of
electrical power. The goal is to improve the safety
and performance of hypersonic cruise and glide
vehicles to withstand the intense heat generated by their interaction with the surrounding
atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. Researchers
also will study and test spacecraft material that
will simulate re-entering the Earths atmosphere
or entering the atmospheres of other planets.
Building the wind tunnel wont be easyall of
the design is being done at UTA and not a single
part is commercially available, so Dr. Maddalena
must contract with machine shops and manufacturers who can meet his exacting specifications.
The new tunnel will be unique in being able
to perform studies to better understand the
complex interaction between the flow and the
thermal protection materials or heat shields.
This in turn will contribute to the development
of new thermal protection systems, Maddalena
says. The knowledge we are gaining is not found
anywhere else in the nation. We will become an
ideal site for extensive collaboration with other
researchers from academia, industry, and government. Im very proud that my team can play a
major role in hypersonics.


viewports on the test
section will permit
both flow and test
article visualization
during experimental
operation, allowing state-of-the-art
optical access for
measurement and
analysis from multiple

The vacuum system
allows the simulation
of high-altitude (very
low-pressure) flight

diffuser slows
incoming hypersonic
flow to subsonic.

Hot gases from the
test chamber are
cooled before entering
the vacuum pumps.

Models and test
articles are placed
in the test section
and subjected to
and high-speed flow,
simulating planetary
entry and re-entry

Hot gases are accelerated in convergentdiver nozzles to
simulate relevant
hypersonic flight

water is circulated
at high pressure
to protect various
components from the
intense heat.



Big Impact
Big Data

Professor Heng Huang and others in the Computer Science and

Engineering Department are using data analytics to make breakthroughs in everything from medical diagnostics to economics.

h a n k s to t e c h nol o gic a l a dva nc e m e n ts, the

proliferation of data has increased exponentially in recent
yearsas has the amount of challenges researchers face in trying to curate and analyze such massive amounts of information. At
The University of Texas at Arlington, this topic of data-driven discovery is one of the keystones of the Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact. If managed effectively, this information can
deliver powerful, even life-changing results.



Leading the charge at UTA is Heng Huang, a

professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department and a national leader in the field
of big data analytics. Since 2013, he has been principal investigator on five grants totaling nearly $5
million aimed at finding ways to harness big data
so it can be accessible to other researchers.
Big data analysis is important, Dr. Huang
says, because the majority of the sciences have
big data issues.
Were at the frontier of science. We have accumulated huge amounts of data for years, and
now there is a need for efficient ways to analyze


dimensional biomarker detection of genetic and

phenotypic biomarkers, and identifying and
studying longitudinal data on MCI-to-Alzheimers conversion.



Professor Heng Huang is a

nationally recognized leader
in the important and growing
field of big data analytics.

that data and apply it, he explains. My work

in specialized areas can benefit lots of research
scientists because this is a foundation of multiple
sets of research projects, including the National
Institutes of Healths Brain Research through
Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative and Precision Medicine Initiative.
More accurate analyses can lead to better
decision-making. And better decisions can lead
to greater operational efficiencies, cost reductions, and reduced risks.
There are lots of challenging problems in
this field, such as how to integrate multi-modal
and longitudinal big data to accurately predict
disease outcomes, Huang says. Thanks to my
solid background in big data analysis, I believe I
can address these problems and more.
Hong Jiang, chair of the Computer Science
and Engineering Department, concurs. He notes
that although his department is well-regarded
across the board, Huang stands out for his work
in the lab and the classroom.


Dr. Huang is a great researcher and a great

teacher. His work on machine learning and datamining applied to health care is simply outstanding. Its not an exaggeration to say he is a world
leader in that area, says Dr. Jiang. Not only is he
a leader in his field, but he also leads by example
in the department and is an excellent role model
for junior faculty.


Big data advances already are having tremendous impact in medical research. One of Huangs
current projects focuses on identifying biomarkers that may help doctors predict Alzheimers disease in patients by employing multi-dimensional
and longitudinal imaging genomic data. The
hope is that, by detecting the disease sooner, its
effects may be reversed or prevented.
Through a National Institutes of Health grant,
Huang will develop data-mining techniques to
analyze genotype and phenotype data from the
Alzheimers Disease Neuroimaging Initiative,

a database to study the brains of Alzheimers

Most people with mild cognitive impairment
eventually contract Alzheimers, but some go
back to normal. We want to predict mild cognitive impairment based on genomic information
so we can accurately predict whether they will
get Alzheimers or not, Huang explains. From a
biomedical standpoint, this is an opportunity to
have very good knowledge of the genome technique and neuroimaging. From the computing
side, well be using very advanced algorithms to
understand and study the brain.
Currently, most studies use a single genetic or
neuroimaging data source. But since longitudinal
data changes every six months or soas does the
brainHuang will instead build computational
models and software to incorporate biological
knowledge into the existing data sets.
This will include identifying the genetic basis
on which mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
turns into Alzheimers, understanding multi-

Its a fine line were walking, Huang says.

Were trying to preserve and protect sensitive
data, but at the same time allow pertinent information to be read.

In addition to predicting diseases, Huangs

research is aimed at helping doctors better personalize their treatments. In a collaboration with
UT Southwestern Medical Center and Southern
Methodist University, he is using a National
Science Foundation (NSF) grant to mine electronic medical records data to help physicians
provide better treatment, predict health care
needs, and identify risks that can lead to patient
If collecting and deciphering this data can
give doctors better information so they can give
patients better health care, it will make a big difference, Huang says. We especially want to predict possible readmission dates for heart failure
patients because timing is extremely important
to them. It can be the difference between life and
The results also could help health care
professionals find a balance between a patients
hospital stay and an insurance companys need
to control hospital costs.
In a separate but similar project, Huang and
co-principal investigator Gautam Das of the
Computer Science and Engineering Department
are working to protect personal electronic health
care data while ensuring that the anonymous
records can be used for
secondary analysis and
improved health care.
Their team is building
a privacy-preserving
framework that will
start where the Health
Insurance Portability
and Accountability Act
(HIPAA) ends. It will
produce groundbreaking
algorithms and tools for
identifying privacy leaks
and protecting personal
medical information in
electronic health records.
Funded by the NSF,
the project also includes
several researchers from the University of North
Texas Health Science Center and George Washington University.

Apart from medical and health care advancements, big data research also is helping scientists
and engineers better understand everything
from genomes to economics. The former can
be seen in Huang and computer science and
engineering Professor Chris Dings effort to build
an interactive database of gene expressions of
the fruit fly.
Were building a system through which the
computer will recognize what happens in these
fruit fly genes and how the genes then interact
with each other, Huang explains. Because so
many of the genes involved in fruit fly development are found in humans and other species,
understanding what these expressions are
and how they work with each other is highly
Their conclusions on the spatial and temporal characteristics of fruit fly gene expression
images have been at the leading edge of scientific
investigations into the fundamental principles
of different species development. The project is
expected to yield methods of analyzing data that
will aid in biomedical science and engineering,
systems biology, clinical pathology, oncology,
and pharmaceuticals.
Huang notes that
his work in big data
has the potential to
have an impact in
more practical areas
as well.
Big data affects
research in many
areas, but it could
eventually make its
mark on the economy,
too, he says. For
instance, if big data
analysis were used to
identify biomarkers
for cancer or a genetic
disease, then that
information could be
applied to develop
drugs to successfully
treat those diseases, creating revenue for manufacturers, but also lessening lost work time and
health care costs.

Were at the frontier

of science. We have
accumulated huge
amounts of data for
years, and now there
is a need for efficient
ways to analyze that
data and apply it.


Ultimately, breakthroughs in data-driven discovery will depend on researchers ability to discern
meaningful information from massive amounts
of data. UTA is ready to help lead this effort.
In addition to Huang, several other Computer
Science and Engineering Department faculty
have made important contributions in the area
of big data analytics. In fact, Jiang says that the
department is among the top 30 in the nation
in several areas, including machine learning,
data mining, database, and biomedical image
The National Academy of Engineering
issued 14 Grand Challenges in 2008. These are
essentially a road map for the 21st century, and
big data stands at the center of all of them, Jiang
says. We are very well-positioned to join the
force that will tackle these challenges.
Other faculty working on related research
include Dr. Das, Dr. Ding, Jean Gao, Junzhou
Huang, and Chengkai Li. Das and his collaborators are using deep-web mining to make browsing the internet on a cellphone less daunting by
automatically and seamlessly creating a mobilefriendly website where one does not exist. He
also is developing efficient analytic techniques
for combining and understanding the data
stored in online social networks.
Ding is a leading expert on sparse coding for feature selection; his seminal work on
the subject has changed the way people have
approached the topic. Dr. Gao is investigating
multi-modality modeling of genomic data integration for neural diseases.
Junzhou Huangs research involves a multimodality brain study that combines an MRI with
facial recognition software to correlate brain
health with mood. Dr. Li created a software
program called Claimbuster that helps journalists fact-check statements made by politicians
in real-time using a machine-learning tool that
automatically identifies factual claims likely to
be important to the public.
Jiang is proud of his department and the
research it produces, and he is optimistic about
the contributions his colleagues are making to
the future.
Computer science penetrates many other
disciplines where even five years ago there would
not have been a connection, he says. This collaboration among different areas is what makes
big data analysis so important, and I am happy
that UTA is taking the lead in many areas of this


A CAREER Quartet
In 2016, four
UTA engineers
received the
National Science
Foundations most
prestigious award
for junior faculty.




ost succ e ssf u l senior

faculty members begin their
careers with strong research
funding and a knack for helping students master the skills they need to
become successful engineers.
Four junior engineering facultyYi
Hong, Junzhou Huang, Ankur Jain,
and Alice Sunare following this
example and proving their mettle.
Each has already earned significant
grants from funding agencies such
as the National Science Foundation
(NSF) and the American Heart Association to tackle issues like cancer
detection, efficient energy storage,
materials development, and tissue








And now their hard work has been further rewarded: This
year, each received one of the NSFs top grants, the Early
Career Development, or CAREER, Program award.
The Faculty Early Career Development Program is the
NSFs most prestigious award for junior faculty. Winners are
outstanding researchers, but also are expected to be outstanding teachers through research, educational excellence,
and the integration of education and research at their home
Each of the four assistant professors will receive $500,000
over five years to complete their research, which also must
include an educational component to positively contribute to
student learning and outreach.

Yi Hong, a bioengineering assistant professor, is developing a
polymer that will allow engineers to create a flexible, conductive, and biodegradable scaffold for biomedical applications.
This polymer will lead to the creation of single-component
elastomers, which would be an advancement over conventional conductive polymers that are very stiff, hard to process,
and non-degradable.
The research holds great promise in biomedical fields such
as tissue repair and drug delivery, but it also has the potential
to expand to biodegradable electronics and stretchable, wearable electronics.
Junzhou Huangs tools
will help scientists
better process large
image-omics data, such
as this image of a heart.

There is a gap between conductive polymers and biomedical technology, and many researchers have shown that
conductivity can help in tissue remodeling, Dr. Hong says.
My research will bridge the gap to design a new, more conductive and biodegradable material made from a single polymer
Hongs CAREER award reflects his innovative nature, but
also represents the Universitys increasing commitment to
research with multiple applications.
Dr. Hongs recognition is well-deserved, and another example of the high-quality, early-career faculty we have at UTA,
says Duane Dimos, UTAs vice president for research. His
research is transformative and could lead to breakthroughs in
his own field and in other engineering fields. Such innovative
thinking is one reason why UTA researchers are making a
significant impact on the world around us.

Computer science and engineering Assistant Professor Junzhou Huangs research focuses on developing computational
tools to integrate very large, complex image-omics data into
files that are small enough to be handled by current computing technology.
Image-omics data includes image data (such as pathology or radiology images) and omics data (such as genomics,
pretomics, or metabolomics) captured from the same patient.
Currently, this data is at such a high resolutionan image
might measure 1 million by 1 million pixels, compared to a
cellphone screen that measures 1,000 by 1,000 pixelsthat
each piece may be one terabyte (1 million megabytes) or more.
Combining several files for a holistic view creates a massive
amount of data that current technology cannot process.
Access to different modalities of data will allow doctors
and scientists to develop better treatments for patients, Dr.
Huang says. If we are successful, scientists will have a much
broader base of information to draw upon when seeking cures
for diseases such as cancer.
His CAREER award showcases UTAs increasing commitment to research that can impact a broad range of theoretical
and practical applications, according to Anand Puppala, the
colleges associate dean for research.
Our Computer Science and Engineering Department
has made many breakthroughs in big data analytics and
informatics in recent years, Dr. Puppala says. Dr. Huangs
CAREER award will allow him to make innovative, potentially
life-altering discoveries that will benefit science, medicine,
and the community.


Ankur Jain of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Department is working to better understand how heat flows
in materials within a lithium ion (Li-ion) battery so those batteries can be used safely in more applications and with an eye
toward improved energy storage technology.
Li-ion batteries are used widely in electric vehicles,


consumer electronics, and other applications, Dr. Jain says.

Their current performance is limited by the fact that a battery
tends to overheat when discharged. Improvement in heat
removal from a battery will directly improve its performance,
along with its safety and reliability.
The end goal is to develop a fundamental understanding
of the nature of how heat flows in energy conversion devices
such as Li-ion cells and what impedes the flow of heat in those
Dr. Jains research could have a broad impact on industries
that rely on Li-ion batteries to power devices, with applications from military uses to the cars we drive to our personal
computers, Puppala says. This type of innovative thinking
is how UTA researchers are able to change the world for the


Alice Sun, an electrical engineering assistant professor, is
developing technology for an all-liquid optofluidic laser that
can better detect cancer and could lead to the development of
a versatile biosensing platform featuring exceptional detection sensitivity, selectivity, and throughput.
Most lasers are semiconductor-based and require solid
material to create cavities to confine light. In optofluidic
lasers, two-phase liquids are controlled using microfluidics
and nanofluidics to form a highly efficient optical microcavity.
The all-liquid nature makes the laser adaptive and achieves
high-precision tuning in an unprecedented manner.
Optofluidic lasers are unique because the microlaser can
be achieved through smart self-assembly at the liquid-liquid
interface, Dr. Sun explains. Because of this structure, the
optofluidic laser is biocompatible and bioconfigurable. Eventually, it could be applied to in-vivo biosensing.
She initially will use the optofluidic laser to detect biomarkers for cancer diagnosis and possibly other genetic disorders
at molecular and cellular levels. This may lead to a device that
could be used in the comfort of a doctors office.
Suns CAREER award is a professional feather in her cap,
but also reflects a greater commitment to innovative, transformative research at UTA, says Dr. Dimos: Dr. Suns award
represents the NSFs stamp of approval of her status as a
rising star in her field. Her work shows the sophistication of a
seasoned researcher and is a stellar example of UTAs impact
on health and the human condition.

An additional three engineering faculty members have active
NSF CAREER award funding: Hyejin Moon of the Mechanical
and Aerospace Engineering Department, Baohong Yuan of
the Bioengineering Department, and Fuqiang Liu of the Materials Science and Engineering Department. In all, 17 current
UTA engineers have received the award.
The college has increased support over the past year to
help young faculty members win this prestigious recognition. Several assistant professors visited with NSF program

Ankur Jain is studying

how heat flows within
lithium ion batteries and
other conversion devices.

directors in Washington, D.C., to discuss how to successfully

pursue research funding. The college also hosted a workshop
to review successful NSF CAREER proposals and to teach faculty members how to increase their own chances of winning
NSF support. During this workshop, previous CAREER award
winners discussed
their experiences and
how they prepared
their proposals. All
four of this years
winners attended the
A continued focus
on the success of
junior faculty, especially in light of the
hiring of 15 new members this fall, is helping
to raise the College of
Engineerings profile,
says Puppala.
When we hire
young faculty, we
expect them to be
potential CAREER
award candidates. This honor is highly competitive and
allows a person to work on a research topic for several years,
he says. In terms of our reputation, CAREER awards are
large grants, so they definitely help our research expenditures,
which are at all-time highs. Perhaps more important, though,
is that they also cause other universities to look at the quality
of our faculty and see that were doing innovative, transformative research. This reflects well on our entire college and on
UTA as a whole.

If we are successful,
scientists will have a
much broader base of
information to draw
upon when seeking
cures for diseases
such as cancer.





The College of Engineerings

Board of Advisors will offer a
new endowed professorship.


Agonafer and Mulay


Veerendra Mulay (09

PhD) was honored with
the 2015 ASME Electronic
and Photonic Packaging
Division Young Engineer
The award recognizes
a young engineer with
significant technical
achievements in his or her
career in the area of electronic and photonic packaging, as demonstrated
through papers, patents,
or product development.
While earning his
degree at UTA, Dr.
Mulay worked in Dereje
Agonafers Electronics
MEMS and Nanoelectronics Systems Packaging
Center. He now works for
This is a well-deserved
honor for Dr. Mulay. As a
key member of Facebooks
Data Center Infrastructure team, his research
has resulted in some of
the worlds most energyefficient data centers,
Dr. Agonafer says. He is
also involved in the Open
Compute Project, which
caused a paradigm shift
in the hardware industry
and spurred innovation
through collaboration.
He has been a strong
supporter of our NSF
Cooperative Research
Center through funding
and equipment donations
and has mentored numerous graduate students.



Wendell H. Nedderman
was the founding
dean of the College
of Engineering and
longtime UTA president.

Nedderman Professorship Awarded

Hong Jiang, chair of the Computer Science
and Engineering Department, is the first
recipient of the Wendell H. Nedderman
Endowed Professorship.
Dr. Jiang joined the College of Engineering in 2015 after a stint as a program director at the National Science Foundation.
Friends and colleagues of Dr. Nedderman, the founding dean of the College of
Engineering and longtime president of

UTA, established a fund in his honor for

use by the dean of engineering in 2006.
The fund was upgraded to an endowed
professorship in 2012.
It is an honor to be the first recipient
of the Wendell H. Nedderman Endowed
Professorship, Jiang says. Dr. Neddermans contributions to the growth
and well-being of this university are


Rewarding Outstanding Faculty Thanks

to a new Board of Advisors Endowed Professorship, the College of Engineering has an additional way to lure and reward highly qualified faculty who
excel in the classroom and the laboratory. The Board has great confidence
in the college and its leadership, says Board Member Larry Stephens (72
BS, 79 MS), who was a leader in the effort to fund the new professorship.As
business leaders, we understand the value to students and to the community
of attracting outstanding faculty for the highest levels of teaching and research.It distinguishes the college and it sets our graduates ahead of those at
other universities.

G. Don Taylor (83 BS, 85

MS), the Charles O. Gordon Professor and head
of the Grado Department
of Industrial and Systems
Engineering at Virginia
Tech, was named interim
dean of that universitys
College of Engineering
in February. He replaced
Richard Benson, who is
now the president of
UT Dallas.
A member of the
Virginia Tech faculty
since 2004, Dr. Taylors
research focuses on the
simulation and optimization of complex systems
and the logistics of
material flow and freight
transportation. He has
been principal or coprincipal investigator on
more than 75 externally
funded projects and has
written more than 200
technical publications,
including 10 edited books.
He is also a fellow and
president emeritus of the
Institute of Industrial
Engineers and a fellow
of the World Academy of
Productivity Science.
Before coming to
Virginia Tech, Taylor held
the Mary Lee and George
F. Duthie Endowed Chair
in Engineering Logistics
and was the director of
the Center for Engineering Logistics and Distribution at the University
of Louisville.





Brian Coltharp will take

the reins at Freese and
Nichols in January.


MOre Alumni/Giving info


Coltharp Named CEO Brian Coltharp (92 BS)

will become president and CEO of Freese and Nichols, a Fort Worth-based
professional consulting firm, on Jan. 1, 2017. He currently serves as the chief
operating officer. Coltharp has been with Freese and Nichols for his entire
career, joining the company after graduating from UTAs Civil Engineering
Department in 1992. Before his promotion to COO, he served as Freese and
Nichols water practice leader, coordinating several billion dollars in design
and construction projects for multiple clients.

Linda Patterson (99

MS), a chemistry
teacher at Wheeler
High School in Cobb
County, Ga., was one
of five finalists in that
state for the Presidential Excellence in Science Teaching Award.
The Presidential
Awards for Excellence
in Mathematics and
Science Teaching are
the nations highest
honors for teachers of
those subjects. Awardees serve as models
for their colleagues,
inspiration to their
communities, and
leaders in the improvement of mathematics
and science education.
I love teaching
because you have a
real impact on the
future, Patterson
told the Cobb County
School District website.
I got into education to
try to fill the pipeline
with engineers and scientists for the future.

Toby Pugh (BS, Mechanical Engineering; 74 MS,

Aerospace Engineering)
co-authored a paper in
the November 2015 issue
of World Oil. He holds
three patents and has
overseen projects around
the world.


Tom Wood (BS, Aerospace Engineering; 72

MS, Mechanical Engineering) was selected
for the prestigious 2016
Alexander A. Nikolsky
Honorary Lectureship by
AHS InternationalThe
Vertical Flight Technical Society. He is chief
technologist for Bell
Helicopter Textron Inc.


Chris Burkett (BS, Civil

Engineering) retired June
17 after 32 years with
the City of Mansfield,
including nearly 23 years
as assistant city manager.
He did private engineering work before being
hired by Mansfield as
public works director in
1984. He was promoted
to director of planning
and development later
that year, and to the job
from which he retired in
September 1993.

become leaders in engineering. He is a professor

in the department of
industrial and systems
engineering at Texas
A&M and director of academic outreach at Texas
A&M University Qatar.


Anne Spence (MS, Aerospace Engineering) is a

professor of the practice
and interim director of
the Center for Women
in Technology at the
University of Maryland
Baltimore County, where
she has taught since 1995.
Laura Sullivan (MS, 92
PhD, Materials Science
and Engineering) was
appointed by Michigan
Gov. Rick Snyder in January to the Flint Water
Interagency Coordinating Committee, which is
working to set in place
long-term solutions to
the citys water system.
She is a professor of
mechanical engineering
at Kettering University.



Sesh Commuri (PhD,

Electrical Engineering)
was named technical
director of the Nevada
Advanced Autonomous
Systems Innovation Center at the University of
NevadaReno in February. He is also a professor
in the electrical and
biomedical engineering


Nic Burtea (BS,

Mechanical Engineering) was appointed chief
information officer at
Enertia Software in
November 2015.


Linda Patterson (MS,

Materials Science and
Engineering), a high
school science teacher in
Cobb County, Ga., was


L. Warren Rogers (BS,

Electrical Engineering)
was awarded a U.S. patent in 2015 for a synthetic
space vector modulation
method and device for
controlling a voltage
source inverter and load.




Hamid Parsaei (PhD,

Industrial Engineering)
was inducted to Western
Michigan Universitys
College of Engineering
and Applied Sciences
Alumni Excellence Academy, which recognizes
outstanding graduates
of the college who have

Roel Pea (BS, Aerospace Engineering) was

featured in a Dec. 7, 2015,
Cleburne Times article
about his career transition from a 25-year Lockheed Martin engineer
to a sixth-grade science
teacher at Smith Middle


Nikola Olic (BS,

Computer Engineering) was featured in an
August 3 Dallas Observer
article. In addition to
co-founding a health
care software company,
Olic is a professional
BMX flatlander and a


Micheal Blackmon (BS,

Mechanical Engineering) was named to the
board of directors of the
Society of Tribology and
Lubrication Engineers.
He works for ALS Tribology in Fort Worth and
is responsible for new
business development

throughout the United

States and for performing certification-training programs. Sandip
Faldu (ME, Civil Engineering) joined Freese
and Nichols Dallas
office in December 2015
as a senior engineer with
the transportation planning group.


Tom Witherspoon (PhD,

Civil Engineering) was
featured in the Look
Whos a D.GE section
of the March/April 2016
issue of ASCEs GeoStrata
magazine. He is a
diplomate in geotechnical engineering with
ASCE and holds two U.S.
patents. He is a five-time
Texas state champion
in Olympic weightlifting (open division) and
was the Pan American

masters weightlifting
champion in 1990, 2000,
and 2014.


Santosh Lamichhane
(BS, Electrical Engineering) published a
collection of Nepalese
poetry, Porridge Eaters
and Gruel Drinkers, that
was formally released in
September 2015. He is an
energy analyst for DNV
GL in Madison, Wisc.


Juan Placencia (BS,

Software Engineering) is
mobile architect for tech
startup Aireal, which
was tapped to create
augmented reality digital
experiences and games
for Shark Week, the Discovery Channels annual
weeklong marathon of
shark-themed programs.

In Memoriam

Michael Brown (BS,

Civil Engineering) was
named 2015 Engineer
of the Year by the DFW
Mid-Cities Chapter of the
Texas Society of Professional Engineers. He is
a project manager and
team leader at TranSystems Corporation Consultants. Kyle Walterscheid
(BS, 93 ME, Civil
Engineering) is pastor of
St. John Paul II University
Parish in Denton. He was
ordained in 2002 after
working in North Texas
as a civil engineer.


a finalist for the 2016

Presidential Excellence
in Science Teaching



F. William Bill Othon

(69 BS, Civil Engineering), 76, July 12, 2015, in
Houston. Bill was the
retired founder and
president of Othon Inc.
Consulting Engineers.


David Wade Culberston (71 BS, Industrial

Engineering), 71, Dec.
26, 2015, in Georgetown.
He was retired from
the U.S. Department of

Donald Ray Taylor

(90 ME, Computer
Science and Engineering), 74, Nov. 12, 2015, in
Austin. He worked for
ASOMA Instruments,
Weed Instruments, and
Spectro/Ametek during
his career.

Faculty, Staff, and


Robert Dryden, 71, July

6, 2015, in Blacksburg,
Va. Dr. Dryden began his
career as an assistant
professor of industrial
engineering at UTA
in 1968. Donggang
Liu, 39, March 20, in
Arlington. Dr. Liu joined
the Computer Science
Department in 2005 as
an assistant professor
and was promoted to
associate professor in
2011. Desheng Dennis
Meng, 41, January 6, in
Arlington. Dr. Meng had
been an associate professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace
Engineering Department since January
2014. John Mills, Dec.
28, 2015, in Stratford,
Conn. Dr. Mills was a
professor emeritus in

the Mechanical and

Aerospace Engineering
Department. John Patterson (62 BS, Electrical
Engineering), 75, February 10, in Arlington. Dr.
Patterson was an associate dean of the college
after his retirement from
a long career with Texas
Instruments, Xerox,
and Tandy Corporation.
He was named a UTA
Distinguished Alumnus
in 1991. Henry Sebesta,
77, June 30, in Longmont,
Colo. Dr. Sebesta served
as chair of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department
from 1975-81 before
leaving academia to
join Applied Technology
Associates Inc., where
he was president and
CEO and chief scientist
for 37 years until his
retirement in 2008. G.T.
Stevens, 84, Dec. 10,

2015, in Arlington. Dr.

Stevens was a professor
and chair emeritus in
the Industrial, Manufacturing, and Systems
Engineering Department. He was a member
of the faculty from
1975-2002 and served
as department chair
from 1975-1998. He was
a fellow of the Institute
of Industrial Engineers.
William Bill Svihel,
63, April 12, in Mansfield,
Texas. Dr. Svihel was a
retired engineer from
Lockheed Martin and
the son of former electrical engineering Senior
Lecturer Bernie Svihel.
He was a longtime
supporter of the college
through an endowed
scholarship named for
his mother, Ann, and his









Trash Collection

Talent finds its way

to UTA. About 55,000
students from 100
different countries
attended this spring to
pursue one of the 180
bachelors, masters,
and doctoral degrees in
a range of disciplines.

Your opportunity to
support these students
through a gift to the
University gives them
access to the best
possible educational
experiences, creating
a better future for our

When committed
donors and talented
students come together
for a shared purpose,
our community benefits.
A gift to promote
student success makes
our state, region, and
nation better.

Sustainably mining landfills solves monetary, social, and environmental problems.

iti es across th e country have spent decades covering the trash in landfills with intricate layers of liners
and soil in an attempt to protect the groundwater
underneath and eventually reclaim usable green space.
But now civil engineering Professor Sahadat Hossain is asking whether that refuse should instead be dug up
and either recycled or converted to energy through modern
processes that speed up the degradation of waste material.
Called landfill mining, the system removes trash that wont
break down in the landfill and recycles or reuses it. Once
mined, the space can then be used as a new landfill cell, thus
becoming part of a perpetual landfill system or sustainable
waste management system.
Combining landfill mining and sustainable waste management will allow cities to build landfills that will suit their
needs for generations, says Dr. Hossain, who is also director
of UTAs Solid Waste Institute for Sustainability. Large U.S.


cities are already spending millions of dollars to ship trash out

of state. In developing countries, finding space and money to
build new landfills is very difficult. The monetary, social, and
environmental benefits are invaluable. We can create more
energy, ease space problems, and make a positive impact on
public health, all by mining trash and reusing otherwise unusable space.
His research could yield the first sustainable waste management system in the United States.
Dr. Hossain is advancing both our understanding of how
to extend the lifespan of landfills and how to capitalize on
them as an alternative energy source, says Khosrow Behbehani, former dean of the College of Engineering. This is truly
exciting research in a living laboratory with the potential to
increase sustainability in a critical sector worldwide. And this
work has the potential to provide energy to parts of the world
with limited resources.

UTA is connecting students

and donors for an
exceptional purpose.
Make a gift today at or call Rose Youngblood, Assistant
Vice President for Development and University Initiatives in the Office
of Development and Alumni Relations, at 817.272.2584.

More than 73 percent

of UTA students work
while earning their
degrees, demonstrating
a resiliency that benefits
the community after

Box 19019
Arlington, TX 76019-0019

Non-profit Org.
U.S. Postage


Burlington, VT 05401
Permit No. 19


Facilitating Collaboration

This fall, construction began on the new Science and

Engineering Innovation and Research (SEIR) building,
a state-of-the-art facility that will transform the Universitys approach to interdisciplinary research in the
life and health sciences. The 200,000-square-foot building will bring together engineers, scientists, and other

faculty, creating opportunities for exciting research

collaborations. Once completed, the SEIR building
will house dozens of research groups from across the
University. A classroom wing also will allow faculty to
teach larger core courses in the building. Initial occupancy is projected for August 2018.

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