WashU Engineering stories of 2017<p>WashU engineers continued their strong research tradition in 2017, and implemented a new strategic plan — <a href="/our-school/strategicplan/Pages/default.aspx">Leadership Through Excellence. </a><br/></p><p>Here are 10 stories that had the most impact and reach in 2017:<br/></p><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/top%2010%20stories%202017.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><h3 style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;"> <br/> </h3><div class="newsauthor"><h3 style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;"> <a href="/news/Pages/Eleven-new-faculty-to-join-School-of-Engineering-Applied-Science.aspx">1. Eleven new faculty to join School of Engineering & Applied Science </a></h3><div class="newsauthor">“Adding these faculty members at both the junior and senior ranks is a big step in the growth of the size and depth of our research and education programs that are enabled by the expansion of our facilities that is underway," said Aaron F. Bobick, dean.<br/></div></div><div class="newsauthor"><div><div class="newscaption" style="line-height: 1.5;"> <br/> <a href="/news/Pages/Beginning-the-east-end-transformation.aspx" style="background-color: #ffffff; font-family: 'libre baskerville', 'times new roman', serif; font-size: 1.25em;">2. Groundbreaking ceremony marks start of university’s east end transformation project</a><br/></div><div><div data-queryruleid="00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000"><div data-displaytemplate="WebPageItem"><div><div class="newsauthor">Washington University in St. Louis is embarking on a major transformation of the east end of its Danforth Campus. The project includes two new buildings dedicated to engineering.<br/></div></div><div> <br/> </div><div><h3 style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;"> <a href="/news/Pages/A-probiotic-stress-fix.aspx" style="outline: 0px;">3. A probiotic stress fix</a></h3><div class="newsauthor">An engineer at Washington University in St. Louis is using a mouse model to develop a probiotic that, when mixed into yogurt or taken as a pill, could combat the negative health effects of adrenaline rush and excessive stress.<br/></div><div class="newscaption" style="line-height: 1.5;"> <br/> </div><div class="newscaption" style="line-height: 1.5;"><h3 style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;"> <a href="/news/Pages/Pushing-the-imaging-envelope.aspx">4. Pushing the imaging envelope</a></h3><div class="newsauthor">An engineer at Washington University in St. Louis plans to push the envelope of microscopic imaging, to better visualize the molecules involved in Alzheimer’s disease. <br/></div><div class="newscaption" style="line-height: 1.5;"> <br/> <h3 style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;"></h3><h3 style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;"> <a href="/news/Pages/Study-casts-doubt-on-the-warming-implications-of-brown-carbon-aerosol-from-wildfires.aspx">5. Study casts doubt on the warming implications of brown carbon aerosol from wildfires</a></h3><div class="newsauthor">As devastating wildfires rage in California wine country, a team of environmental engineers at Washington University in St. Louis have made a new discovery about wildfire smoke and its effect on the atmosphere.<br/><br/></div><h3 style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;"> <a href="/news/Pages/WashU-engineers-to-study-better-design-for-robotics-autonomous-technology.aspx">6. WashU engineers to study better design for robotics, autonomous technology</a></h3><div class="newsauthor">Xuan "Silvia" Zhang and Christopher Gill received a four-year, $936,504 grant from the National Science Foundation to study how to orchestrate modular power in a modular manner at the mesoscale, an area that has not yet been studied.<br/></div></div> <br/> </div></div><div><h3 style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;"> <a href="/news/Pages/Better-than-a-pill.aspx" style="outline: 0px;">7. Better than a pill</a></h3><div class="newsauthor">With a new $1.7 million award from the National Institutes of Health, a team from Washington University in St. Louis plans to develop a silk-based system to better alleviate the pain and discomfort of osteoarthritis.<br/></div> <br/> </div><div><h3 style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;"> <a href="/news/Pages/Studying-the-brains-suspension-system-in-TBIs.aspx">8. Studying the brain’s suspension system in TBIs</a></h3><div class="newsauthor">New research from a team of engineers at Washington University in St. Louis takes a closer at this “suspension system” and the insight it could provide to prevent TBI.<br/></div> <br/> </div><div><h3 style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;"> <a href="/news/Pages/Test-uses-nanotechnology-to-quickly-diagnose-Zika-virus.aspx">9. Test uses nanotechnology to quickly diagnose Zika virus</a></h3><div class="newsauthor">​Washington University in St. Louis researchers have developed a test that quickly detects the presence of Zika virus in blood.<br/></div><div class="newscaption" style="line-height: 1.5;"> <br/> </div><div class="newscaption" style="line-height: 1.5;"><h3 style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;"> <a href="/news/Pages/Common-heart-ailment-target-of-new-WashU-Engineering-research.aspx">10. Common heart ailment target of new WashU Engineering research</a></h3><div class="newsauthor">Jon Silva and his team will study how small molecules and proteins interact with ion channels in the heart to cause and prevent arrhythmia, when the heart beats too fast, too slow, or is too unstable.<br/></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div><p>​<br/><br/></p> <span> <div class="cstm-section"><h3>#washuengineers top social media posts of the year<br/></h3><div> <strong></strong></div><div><p style="color: #343434;"> <strong>facebook:</strong><strong> </strong><a href="">Created by a WashU engineer, this gift will inspire.</a><br/></p><p style="color: #343434;"> <strong>twitter:</strong><strong> </strong><a href="">These are the stories behind our scholarships (Video)</a></p><p style="color: #343434;"> <strong>instagram: </strong><a href="">Fresh off the press! #washuengineers #WashU17</a><br/></p></div></div></span> <p> <br/> </p>2017-12-18T06:00:00ZWashU engineers continued their strong research tradition in 2017, and implemented a new strategic plan — Leadership Through Excellence. Joint Program presents valuable opportunities for mechanical engineering graduates<p>For Kristin Gonzalez, there are few motivational factors stronger than rejection.<br/></p><p>The denial undoubtedly stings at first, but the University of Missouri–St. Louis senior lets little time pass before putting in the work to turn the no into a yes.<br/></p><img alt="Kelsey Wortmann and Kristin Gonzalez" src="/news/PublishingImages/Kelsey%20Wortmann%20and%20Kristin%20Gonzalez%20UMSL%20Joint%20Program%20WashU%20Engineering.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>The tenacity and sense of humor Gonzalez brings to these discouraging situations are admirable traits – ones that started when she was young and her mother suggested Gonzalez try ballet in addition to her preferred sport of golf. Ultimately, Gonzalez won that battle, and her winning tradition has continued into adulthood.</p><p>During her time in the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">joint engineering program</a>, a partnership between UMSL and Washington University in St. Louis, Gonzalez has set many challenges for herself – with acquiring a co-op position for <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Boeing</a> at the top of the list.</p><p>It took a few years and 13 applications, but the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mechanical engineering</a> major’s perseverance paid off once more. Now after a semester of interning with Boeing’s training systems group, she will continue the role full time after graduating on Saturday.</p><blockquote>“It’s pretty cool to walk around and say I’m a design engineer for Boeing,” Gonzalez noted. “I really like the work. It’s basically what I’ve been wanting to do since out of high school.”<br/></blockquote><p>One of only two women graduating with a mechanical engineering degree this fall, Gonzalez is not alone in her emotional endurance.<br/></p><p>Kelsey Wortmann, also a graduating mechanical engineer and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mathematics</a> minor, is frequently underestimated. The <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Pierre Laclede Honors College</a> student finds strength in these circumstances, though, and uses them as fuel to move forward.</p><p>“With the harder assignments, I just keep proving myself with each one, and I keep asking for more challenges,” the soon-to-be full-time engineer at <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Emerson</a> said. “I don’t just sit there and wait around for people to come to me.”</p><p>While Wortmann and Gonzalez may be outnumbered at work and in many of their classes, the number of women pursuing engineering at UMSL is growing. Of the 17 students graduating from the university’s three engineering degree programs in December, five are women – a record percentage. Female representation is also rising across the board, as 21 percent of all engineering students at UMSL are women.</p><p>But while the numbers show positive trends, Wortmann and Gonzalez said they still occasionally find themselves at a disadvantage, particularly in terms of previous knowledge and skills.</p><blockquote>“Most boys at a young age are learning structures, things about cars, basically skills that put you into the engineering field,” said Gonzalez, who also competed on the women’s golf team and pursued a mathematics minor while at UMSL. “They are taking things apart and putting them back together. Girls don’t typically learn that until they’re pursuing engineering.”</blockquote> <p>Wortmann and Gonzalez both relate to this standard narrative, so they worked in double-time to simultaneously learn the coursework and the machinery needed to complete their projects.</p><p>Recognizing this as an issue, Wortmann used her membership on the Joint Mechanical Engineering Student Advisory Board to advocate for a machine-shop practicum. Faculty recognized the necessity as well and implemented a course last summer.</p><p>This leadership experience and the small community offered within the program provided an outlet where Wortmann felt she could grow as an engineer and as a person.</p><p>“I used to be really quiet, but I got so comfortable seeing the same people in my classes that I actually got more confident in sharing ideas,” Wortmann said. “I feel like I can do that at work now pretty easily. Before, I wouldn’t even raise my hand in a math class.”</p><p>This small but growing community has challenged the women and, as Gonzalez notes, allowed them to “grow up together.”</p><p>With both students graduating and transitioning their co-op positions into full-time roles, they are now focused on advancing their careers.</p><p>Wortmann hopes to utilize the confidence and leadership skills she developed at UMSL to pursue a role in project management.</p><p>“I think it would be really cool to actually have a leadership position,” Wortmann said. “I feel like I’ve had some leadership positions here even with the student advisory board, which I really enjoyed. I liked being the person that everybody came to.”</p><p>An ambitious Gonzalez is already aiming big with hopes of one day leading an organization as CEO. While she’s realistic that it may take a while to reach the top, she’s no stranger to patience.<br/></p>Kelsey Wortmann and Kristin GonzalezSara Bell, UMSL Daily the 17 students graduating from the UMSL/WashU joint program's three engineering degree programs in December, five are women – a record percentage. fashion<div class="youtube-wrap"><div class="iframe-container"> <iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" src=""></iframe> <br/></div></div> ​<br/>Rugby is hard-hitting, fast-moving and adrenaline-fueled. But for elite Paralympic wheelchair athletes, the sport also can pose particular challenges. Close-fitting apparel can be difficult to don and doff. Shirtsleeves, rubbed constantly by carbon fiber wheels, quickly fray. Most critically, spinal cord injuries can impair the body’s ability to regulate temperature during exercise.<br/><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/Functional%20fashion%20WashU%20engineering.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>“We’re pretty hard on our equipment,” said Clayton Braun, a gold medal-winning defender for the St. Louis Spartans wheelchair rugby team. “There’s nothing really specific for us out there. A lot of times, we’re finding things, modifying them and making our own.”</p><p>Over the last several months, students at Washington University in St. Louis — led by faculty from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, the School of Engineering & Applied Science and the School of Medicine’s Program in Occupational Therapy — have worked to research, design and construct prototype garments specifically tailored to the needs of athletes with disabilities.</p><p>“This type of interdisciplinary project, by engaging design thinking, develops life skills that can expand creative problem-solving for all involved,” said Mary Ruppert-Stroescu, associate professor of fashion design. “All clothing has aspects of fashion and function; these wheelchair athletes deserve the best of both.”</p><p>For example, student designers incorporated different cooling methods, including AeroReact fabric donated by Nike, while strategically reinforcing those areas most susceptible to wear. Other design elements included:</p><ul style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; padding-left: 1.5em; list-style-position: initial; list-style-image: initial; color: #3c3d3d; font-family: 'source sans pro', 'helvetica neue', helvetica, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 19.2px;"><li style="box-sizing: inherit;"><p>Magnetic closures, rather than buttons or zippers.</p></li><li><p>Compression fabrics, to support proper posture.</p></li><li><p>Mesh fabrics, to improve ventilation.</p></li><li><p>Extra-long sleeves to accommodate overhead movement.</p></li><li><p>Modular garment parts for ease of replacing damaged areas.</p></li><li style="box-sizing: inherit;"><p>Loops and extra-wide pant legs to facilitate dressing.</p></li></ul><p>“This has really opened my eyes to functional and technical design,” said Chelsea Wallaert, a graduate student in occupational therapy.</p><p>Lola Idowu, a senior in the Olin Business School, concurred: “We really tried to understand who we were building for.”</p><p>For more information about the fashion design program, visit <a href=""></a>. For more information about the Program in Occupational Therapy, visit <a href=""></a>. For more information about St. Louis Spartans Rugby, visit <a href=""></a>.<br/></p><p><br/>​<br/><br/></p><span><div class="cstm-section"><h3>Fashion Design Collaboration Studio<br/></h3><div> <p style="box-sizing: inherit; margin-bottom: 1.5em; color: #3c3d3d; font-family: 'source sans pro', 'helvetica neue', helvetica, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 19.2px; text-align: center;"><strong style="box-sizing: inherit;">Faculty<br/></strong><strong style="text-align: left; color: #343434; font-size: 1em; font-family: 'open sans', 'helvetica neue', helvetica, arial, sans-serif; box-sizing: inherit;"><a href="" style="font-size: 19.2px; background-color: #ffffff; box-sizing: inherit; color: #a51417;">Christine Berg</a><br/></strong><span style="text-align: left; color: #343434; font-size: 1em; font-family: 'open sans', 'helvetica neue', helvetica, arial, sans-serif; box-sizing: inherit;"><a href="/Profiles/Pages/Mark-Jakiela.aspx" rtenodeid="3" style="font-size: 19.2px; background-color: #ffffff; box-sizing: inherit; color: #a51417;">Mark Jakiela</a><br/></span><strong style="text-align: left; color: #343434; font-size: 1em; font-family: 'open sans', 'helvetica neue', helvetica, arial, sans-serif; box-sizing: inherit;"><a href="" style="font-size: 19.2px; background-color: #ffffff; box-sizing: inherit; color: #a51417;">Mary Ruppert-Stroescu</a></strong></p><p></p><p style="box-sizing: inherit; margin-bottom: 1.5em; color: #3c3d3d; font-family: 'source sans pro', 'helvetica neue', helvetica, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 19.2px; text-align: center;"><strong style="box-sizing: inherit;">Design Team</strong><br/>Lauren Abry<br/><span style="font-size: 19.2px;">Susannah Crowley<br/></span><span style="font-size: 19.2px;">Lola Idowu<br/></span><span style="font-size: 19.2px;">Rosie Ji<br/></span><span style="font-size: 19.2px;">Hana Li<br/></span><span style="font-size: 19.2px;">Lara Liszka<br/></span><span style="font-size: 19.2px;">Kara Schuele<br/></span><span style="font-size: 19.2px;">Sonya Steckler<br/></span><span style="font-size: 19.2px;">Chelsea Wallaert</span></p></div></div></span>Clayton Braun (left) practices with the St. Louis Spartans wheelchair rugby team Dec. 6, 2017. (Photo: Clark Bowen/Washington University)Liam Otten2017-12-12T06:00:00ZStudents and faculty have worked to research, design and construct prototype garments specifically tailored to the needs of athletes with disabilities.<p>​WashU students design prototype garments for athletes with disabilities<br/></p>Y goes to China<p>​Early this summer, five students from WashU’s School of Engineering & Applied Science set out to put their technical chops to the test in China. Led by Xuan “Silvia” Zhang, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering and the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, the team of five students traveled to Xi’an Jiatong University in the city of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, to compete in the annual Silk Road Robotics competition. The competition is a whirlwind event showcasing innovative builds from engineers all across the world. The WashU team, comprising Adith Jagadish, Matthew Kollada, Meizhi Wang, William Luer and Andrew O’Sullivan, represented both school and country as the only team from the United States.<br/></p><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/Herby%20goes%20to%20China%20WashU%20engineering.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>With more than 200 teams participating in the first round, the WashU team faced stiff competition right out of the gate. They presented PiCar — a scaled-down model of a self-driving car that used a small, single-board computer, known as a Raspberry Pi computer, to automate its driving functions — to a packed auditorium.</p><p>To get their driverless car moving, the team had to effectively combine electrical, mechanical and systems engineering with 3D printing and software, which they wrote themselves. Building PiCar was exacting. The crew had to fit as much work as they could into the few weeks leading up to the competition, spending time in the lab all the way up to the day of their departure and even sneaking in a bug-fix or two on their 15-hour flight to China.</p><p>“It was definitely the most hands-on engineering that I had ever done,” says Matthew Kollada, BS ’17. “I learned about as much in the competition as I had learned in a number of other classes.”</p><p>Their hard work secured them a spot among the final 16 teams. Though they didn’t win, the students were ranked in the second tier in the final stage, awarded a trophy as “Outstanding Winners” and received a cash prize of 5,000 Yuan.</p><p>For the students, being recognized at the competition was, of course, ideal, but they also saw that their PiCar could make a wider contribution to science.</p><p>“Our overarching goal for this project was to help university students and professors create algorithms for self-driving cars in the lab,” says Adith Jagadish, a first-year mechanical engineering graduate student from India. So, despite the growing commercial demand for advanced robotics technology, the students posted their designs online for free and made their software code — the mind of their autonomous machine — open source.</p><p>The competition was also a platform for them to relish the experience of creating something with their own hands.</p><p>“It almost seems as if we gave life to an inanimate object,” Jagadish says.</p><p>But the trip to China was not all joules without joy. After the competition, the team toured some of China’s big cities. Meizhi Wang, a senior in electrical engineering from China, was the bridge between their cultures.</p><p>“I am very proud of my country, and it was great to show the team around and surprise them with things about China that they did not know,” Wang says.</p><p>Under Meizhi and Professor Zhang’s able stewardship, the WashU robotics team sampled some of the cuisine in Xi’an and saw some notable sites, such as the famous Terracotta Army statues, the Great Wall and the Forbidden Palace.</p><p>“It was an incredible opportunity, and I had the time of my life there,” says Andrew O’Sullivan, a junior in mechanical engineering.</p><p>The Silk Road Robotics competition welded novel engineering, healthy competition and cross-cultural fun into a fulfilling experience for the WashU students who took part. The implications of technology like the PiCar have inundated conversations in academic and industrial circles alike with speculation on what the future of robotics will be, but, as Wang put it, for the PiCar team, it was just “good to be part of developing technology for the future.”<br/></p>Team Advisor Xuan “Silvia” Zhang, Matthew Kollada, Meizhi Wang, William Luer, Andrew O’Sullivan, and Adith Jagadish competed in the Silk Road Robotics competition as a team. Engineering faculty member Guy Genin served as a contest judge. (Courtesy photo).George Gathiani students from WashU’s School of Engineering & Applied Science put their technical chops to the test in China this summer when they competed in the Silk Road Robotics competition. receives early career award from ASME<p>​​​<a href="/Profiles/Pages/Spencer-Lake.aspx">Spencer Lake</a>, assistant professor of mechanical engineering & materials science, has been awarded the Y.C. Fung Early Career Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the highest award for young investigators in bioengineering. Lake was chosen for his pioneering work in musculoskeletal biomechanics and mechanobiology. He will receive the award, which recognizes an individual for outstanding contributions to the field of bioengineering through research, in July 2018 at the 2018 8th World Congress of Biomechanics in Dublin, Ireland. <br/></p><img alt="Spencer Lake" src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Lake_Spencer.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><div id="__publishingReusableFragmentIdSection"><a href="/ReusableContent/36_.000">a</a></div><p>Previous recipients include Farshid Guilak, professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at WashU School of Medicine, director of research for the Shriners Hospitals for Children - St. Louis Shriners, co-director of the Washington University Center of Regenerative Medicine, with appointments in the departments of developmental biology and biomedical engineering; David Meaney, Solomon R. Pollack Professor and Chair of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering & Applied Science; Jay Humphrey, the John C. Malone Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Chair, at Yale University School of Engineering & Applied Science.</p><p>Lake's research focuses on soft tissue biomechanics, with an emphasis on orthopedic tissues, such as tendons and ligaments. His research uses a multiscale experimental and computational approach to evaluate the in vivo loading environment, tissue properties, and microstructural structure-function relationships of tissues that function in complex physiologic environments. Studies conducted in Lake's research group in the <a href="">Musculoskeletal Soft Tissue Laboratory</a> aim to enhance fundamental understanding of healthy tissue properties, elucidate changes that occur in (and mechanisms responsible for) injury/disease, and provide guidelines for improved treatment/replacement strategies. </p><p>Lake joined WashU Engineering in 2012 from the University of Minnesota, where he was a postdoctoral fellow. He earned a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor's degree from the University of Utah.<br/></p><SPAN ID="__publishingReusableFragment"></SPAN><p><br/></p>Spencer Lake2017-11-30T06:00:00ZSpencer Lake has been awarded the Y.C. Fung Early Career Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the highest award for young investigators in bioengineering.