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Engineering Makes a World of Difference

Vol. 6 No. 2 - Fall 2023

Table of Contents:

Students in the News...

College of Engineering in the News...

Engineering Events...

Faculty Research...

Faculty in the News...

Faculty, Staff, & Students...

Save the Dates...

Students in the News

Ja'Michael Washington is your 2023 Homecoming King!

Ja'Michael Washington was voted the 2023 USA Homecoming King! Ja'Michael is a Mechanical Engineering student and is heavily involved with many student organizations and is also an Engineering Ambassador. Congrats, Ja'Michael!

Navigating High School, Authored by Avik Banik

Avik Banik, a current engineering student, recently published Navigating High School: A Student’s Guide to Achieving Straight-A’s, Creating an Exciting Social Life, and Making the Varsity Team!, a self-help book for students that began as a project while he was a student at Mobile County’s Davidson High School. Avik noted that he “worked with over 100 straight-A, ‘popular’ kids, and varsity athletes from 21 different schools in Mobile County and Baldwin County,” as well as with teachers, counselors, and coaches, to compile ideas for the book, which includes sections on academics, social issues, and athletics.

College of Engineering in the News

Research Experiences for Teachers Program

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As our largest cohort, 17 middle school and high school teachers from Mobile and Baldwin counties participated in 2023 Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program, which was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). During the six-week summer program from June 5-July 13, 2023, teachers worked with South faculty and a student team on discovery-based research projects on artificial intelligence (AI) and cancer detection. This fall and next spring, the teachers will work with the team to develop and teach AI-integrated curricula in their middle- or high-school STEM classes. RET Leadership Team includes Dr. Na Gong, Warren Nicholson Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Dr. Shenghua Zha, Assistant Professor of Counseling and Instructional Sciences, Dr. Silas Leavesley, Interim Chair and Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Dr. Jinhui Wang, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

NASA Selects USA to Develop Technologies to Enhance Artemis Missions

In this work, undergraduate students will assess the usage of heat pipes as a means of moving heat to and from an adsorption bed. Specifically, heat management in thermal swing adsorption systems is complex, and in some cases, can be the rate-limiting step that dictates system operation and efficiency. In general, this complexity arises because adsorption occurs when the adsorbent is at ambient temperature, but during regeneration, heat is used to remove adsorbed molecules. As a result, immediately after heating the bed during regeneration, the bed must be cooled before it can return to adsorption service. Many schemes can be envisioned to manage this energy balance, such as using multiple beds to allow for cooling steps or placing the bed being heated in contact with a bed being cooled. More information on the grant can be found here.

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Engineering Events

USA Football Engineering Tailgates

Sept. 9 - Southeastern Louisiana (hosted by BASF/AMNS Calvert)

Sept. 23 - Central Michigan (Homecoming hosted by PSE Designs Consulting Engineers)

Oct. 17 - Southern Miss (Tuesday evening - hosted by Hargrove Engineers + Constructors)

Oct. 28 - Louisiana (hosted by Airbus Americas - Engineering)

Nov. 11 - Arkansas State (hosted by Orion Engineering)

Nov. 18 - Marshall (hosted by Terracon Consultants Inc)

Welcome to the Jungle

Welcome to the Jungle was held on September 1, 2023. Sixteen different student organizations were showcased for students to learn more about how to get involved with the organizations. The event was sponsored by AMNS/Calvert.

Discover Engineering Day

At Discover Engineering Day, we hosted over 500 junior high and high school students. There were 11 different demos that students could do all inside of Shelby Hall. From straw rocket launches to wave flume experiments, our visiting students had a great time exploring engineering!

Solid Waste Sustainability Hub Camp

 Dr. Shenghua Wu, Dr. Kaushik Venkiteshwaran, Dr. Melike Dizbay-Onat, and Prof. Matthew Patterson (Virtual Arts) hosted a 2-day event, the Solid Waste Sustainability Hub Camp, for high school students on November 4 and 5, 2023. During the event, high school students had the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities, such as repurposing waste plastics and glass into products, visiting the Mobile Recycling Center, creating glass artifacts, learning about microplastics removal, and taking part in a group competition.

Declaration Day

At the end of the Fall semester, our EG 101 and CAS 100 Engineering Freshmen declared their majors and were celebrated by each department and several student organizations.

Order of Engineers Ceremony

Faculty Research

Dr. Na Gong, professor of electrical and computer engineering

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is increasingly influencing our world. Transferring large amounts of medical data can be slow and may pose privacy concerns, and the need for large computers can be costly and limit applications. But Dr. Gong and her team at the University of South Alabama are bringing AI closer to the end user through innovative use of “Edge AI.” Edge AI is AI that operates on the edge of the network, usually performing computations on the device where the data is created, like a smart phone or a smart watch. This reduces the need to transmit private data between devices or use complex computer networks. Through a $6 million dollar grant provided by the National Science Foundation, Gong’s team is developing the hardware, software and research infrastructure to create new wearable technologies incorporating Edge AI. In collaboration with multiple universities, Gong’s team is developing a smart wearable device that can be used to predict the onset of diabetic complications by providing AI-guided blood-glucose monitoring without the need for finger pricks or blood draws. The Edge AI tools and infrastructure developed by Gong and her team will be used to provide solutions that will one day be readily available on your phone or watch.

Dr. Daniela Touma, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering

Dr. Daniela Touma is using a National Science Foundation grant to predict power demands in the development of vehicle-to-grid technology.V2G, as it’s known, allows plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles to push power back to the electrical grid, assisting the grid during peak hours. This flexibility addresses the fear that the increasing number of electric vehicles could strain the electrical grid in states such as Texas, which has been put under pressure by winter storms and summer heat. Touma will use artificial intelligence algorithms in a laboratory simulation to forecast usage patterns by electric vehicles. In June, Touma’s $199,000 NSF award was announced. She and graduate assistants are working on the laboratory simulation and surveying Mobile area residents and utility companies about their policies, practices and attitudes toward electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid capabilities .She is collaborating on data collection with Marianne Loes, an instructor in marketing and quantitative methods in the Mitchell College of Business.

 Dr. Shenghua Wu (PI), Dr. Min-Wook Kang (co-PI), and Dr. John Cleary (Co-PI) kicked off a new project "Building Industry-Ready Civil Engineers: Integrating Standards Education into the Civil Engineering Curriculum" on October 4, 2023, which was funded by NIST. The project is to strengthen the competence of civil engineering students in the fields of documentary standards, standardization, and standards development.

Faculty in the News

Dr. Jinhui Wang (Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering) is a recipient of the Beth and Don Davis National Alumni Association Excellence in Advising Award. This award acknowledges the importance of advising at USA by annually recognizing faculty and staff for their outstanding advising contributions.

Engineering Faculty recognized as Mortar Board Top Professors for their inspiration t students!

Dr. Joseph Richardson - Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Shenghua Wu - Civil, Coastal, and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Shenghua Wu (Associate Professor in Civil, Coastal, and Environmental Engineering) has been selected to serve as an ACRP ambassador, to promote airport cooperative research program that makes a difference and connects practitioners, stakeholders, researchers, educators, and more.

Faculty, Staff, & Students

Chemical Engineering Laboratory Update

The chemical engineering department has officially brought two new experiments online: a high pressure, high temperature catalysis reactor and a heat exchanger. Both of these experiments are wired into the DeltaV Distributed Control System. Thanks to our local Rep, Colin Dorsten, from John H. Carter Company, Inc.. for helping us get the operator stations for students to get a true plant experience. A big thanks to Dr. F. Carl Knopf whose idea was to provide students access to DeltaV™ Distributed Control System. Without him we would not be on this path of integrating a DCS into our laboratory. Frank Innocenti from BASF was integral to the wiring and controls of these systems. Carson Graves, Frank, and Dr. Knopf spent countless hours working with the reactor unit to transfer it to the DeltaV platform. David Houston helped with the heat exchanger experiment ensuring its safety and performance through process safety advice. The last group of people that we would like to thank are Hargrove Controls & Automation. Heath Stephens has been a font of wisdom helping us get updated to the DeltaV Live platform. We greatly appreciate all the work that Hargrove Engineers & Constructors has done, especially Caidey Anne Whatley and co-op students, Ashley Kearney and Mara Day. These two experiments are just the start of the enhancement to our Unit Operations Laboratory at the University of South Alabama.

Save the Dates

February 19th - 23rd: E-Week

February 19th: SWE Career Fair

February 22nd: Discover Engineering Day

April 5th - 18th Annual College of Engineering Alumni Society Golf Tournament

April 16th - Senior Design Symposium (12:00 -5:00)

April 25th - Awards Reception (3:00 - 4:00)

Host an Engineering Information Session

We are looking for guest speakers interested in sharing their engineering experiences with our current students as well as companies interested in sharing the types of activities in which their engineers are involved. We can host in-person or virtual meetings.

Please contact the College of Engineering for more information

College of Engineering Alumni Polos

College of Engineering Alumni polos are currently for sale! If you're interested in ordering a polo, orders can be placed and paid for online: Alumni Polo Order. We have several sizes and colors in stock. If we don't have your size or preferred color, the next order will go out in the Spring. All proceeds go towards the College of Engineering Alumni Society Scholarship. Polos are priced at $39.50 (shipping/handling included).

The polos are crafted using performance material and are offered in men's and women's sizes in the following colors: Black, Charcoal Grey, Navy Blue, Red, and White. Below is an example of a red polo with the USA alumni logo.

University of South Alabama

College of Engineering

150 Student Services Dr., Shelby Hall 2114

Mobile, AL 36688

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