Graduate Student Spotlight with Alejandro Rivas


Alejandro Rivas is a graduate student pursuing a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering working Alejandro Rivas ASHRAE 5x7alongside Dr. Li Song. Recently, Alejandro received a joint scholarship from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and the Central Oklahoma American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). He is the current President of the ASHRAE student chapter at OU, and he also attends many Central Oklahoma’s ASHRAE meetings and activities in Oklahoma City.

His research interests are in the field of energy efficiency, such as enhancing heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems’ performance with new control techniques that provide high accuracy with lower cost, and also airflow measurement for variable air volume (VAV) systems under field and testing conditions. Alejandro is currently working with Dr. Song, Dr. Gang Wang, Jesus Elizondo and Wesley Thomas on a research project at Tinker Air Force Base, which is sponsored by the Department of Defense (DOD). The project is testing new technologies in flow measurement.

“With this research, I am looking forward to improving and updating the current airflow measurement industry methods and standards,” said Alejandro. “The final goal is to build a robust and accurate measurement method for HVAC researchers and contractors taking full advantage of what a VAV System has to offer in terms of energy savings.”

With plans to graduate with his M.S. degree in December 2016, Alejandro hopes to find a full-time job as an HVAC Design Engineer in the U.S. He also hopes to acquire the Professional Engineering License, as well as the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Certification. Furthermore, his long-term goal is nothing short of vast.

“I would like to have enough experience and knowledge to start my own HVAC Consulting Engineering Firm either in the U.S. or Venezuela,” said Alejandro. “In the future, I would like to be the leading HVAC Engineer in Venezuela by introducing all the latest technologies and ASHRAE standards that the Venezuelan HVAC industry has not yet implemented.”

Alejandro is from Caracas, Venezuela. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an M.S. in Reliability of Industrial Systems from the University Simon Bolivar in Caracas. After that he began working as an HVAC&R Engineer. Not long into his career, he realized there was a breach of information and experience that he wanted to fulfill through academics, which brought him to the U.S. in January 2015. He chose the University of Oklahoma School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering due to Dr. Song’s research.

“During my program search, I found Dr. Li Song’s research work at OU, and I felt that her research interest contained everything that I was looking for,” said Alejandro. “A global vision of the building where the architecture, materials of the envelope, heat load calculation, selection of mechanical equipment and design of the HVAC system are all important factors that need to be considered for improving the energy performance of the building.”

Alejandro_Venezuela2In addition to Alejandro’s research and academics, he enjoys spending time outdoors, especially at the beach and hiking in Venezuela. He also enjoys watching and playing sports. One of his favorite sports is baseball; he even played in college. Alejandro has a love for animals, especially his dog, Danna.

ASHRAE Members Attend Conference in Orlando

AME students and members of OU’s American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) attended the ASHRAE Conference and Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigerating (AHR) Expo in Orlando, Florida from January 23-27, 2016. The AHR Expo displayed the most advanced products and latest technology in the heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and refrigerating (HVACR) field. More than 2,000 exhibitors and 60,000 HVACR professionals participated in the AHR Expo this year. Attending the AHR Expo presented the opportunity for AME’s students to see everything new in the HVACR field all in one place.

Members in attendance (pictured left to right) included Oluwaseyi Ogunsola, Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering; Junke Wang, visiting M.S. candidate in mechanical engineering; Dr. Li Song, AME Associate Professor in mechanical engineering; Jordan Miller, senior in mechanical engineering; and Alejandro Rivas, M.S. candidate in mechanical engineering.


Ogunsola and Wang have been assisting Song on an ASHRAE sponsored research project titled, Survey of particle production rates from process activities in pharmaceutical and biological cleanrooms. The project is fundamental to develop design guidelines that can assist engineers, owners, and contractors to arrive at an appropriately sized and energy efficient cleanroom system. As part of the ASHRAE conference activities, Ogunsola, Wang and Song presented the progress of the project to the Project Monitoring Subcommittee on Sunday, January 24, 2016. The ASHRAE project is to be completed in May 2016.

Some other conference activities included attending seminars and technical presentations, participating in Young Engineers in ASHRAE events, dinner with students and officers of the ASHRAE regional chapter, and attending technical committee meetings.

Alumni Spotlight with Devin Pauley

Devin Pauley, a native of Forest Park, Oklahoma, began his time at the University of Oklahoma in 1998 pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. The reason he chose to study mechanical engineering was due to his love for cars.

Devin (2)

When Devin was five years old, he visited his dad, a mechanic of 15 years, at work. Like many children, Devin asked his father how he could be just like him one day. His dad told him that he shouldn’t be the one repairing cars, but rather he should be the one designing them. In the third grade, Devin’s school was hosting a show and tell. This show and tell was special in that students had to identify an occupation they wanted to be when they grew up. Still with the automotive industry in mind, he asked his mom what profession was responsible for designing cars. His mom then took him to the library to research the subject. They concluded the majority of automotive designers were mechanical engineers. Devin was sold on the idea of automotive design, so he decided right then he wanted to become a mechanical engineer.

“Imagine my surprise when I’m a freshmen at OU in 1998, and I am standing outside of Felgar Hall,” Devin said. “I saw a sign that said, ‘Want to design cars? Free pizza!’ After that, I was hooked.”

Devin (pictured right) and teammate working on the Sooner Racing Team car in 2001.

Devin (pictured right) and teammate working on the Sooner Racing Team car in 2001.

Devin joined the Sooner Racing Team (SRT), OU’s Formula SAE international competition team. He held various positions on the team including managing its engine systems, driveline integration and brake system leader and president. Under his leadership, SRT won multiple awards, including first place in the Continental Teves Brake Systems category.

Sooner Racing Team in 2001

Sooner Racing Team at competition in 2001.

Throughout college, Devin interned in the vehicle industry, but with graduation quickly approaching in May 2004, he was unable to break into the automotive design or racing industry like he had hoped. Devin attended a career fair in Dallas where he spoke with Motorola representatives about designing cell phones.

“I thought to myself, working in technology could be temporary. I will do this for a few years and then transition into automotive, but I ended up really loving it,” said Devin.

Devin quickly made his mark in the technology industry. While working for Motorola, Sony Ericsson, BlackBerry and Amazon, he has issued four patents, developed and shipped the BlackBerry Storm 2, and developed and shipped the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. In February 2014, Devin began working at the motherland of all technology companies, Apple. As an Engineering Program Manager, he was behind the development and launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus silicone cases. Devin’s latest project at Apple was the release of the iPhone 6S charge battery case.

“The charge battery case has deep iOS integration, so it will show customers real time how much battery is left in the case,” said Devin. “This is the only charge case in the world that can do this.”

Devin is now working on embedded keyboards for future Mac products.

“The thing I love about technology is the progress of innovation, as well as the pace. Every year, you strive to raise the bar and shift the paradigm,” said Devin. “The customer expects a certain level of standard, so we want to shatter it, rebuild it and exceed expectations. At Apple, it’s not magical how we do it. It is a very organic process starting with the customer and a problem we are trying to solve.”

Devin (1)Because of his successful career, Devin is a two-time recipient of the BRAVO! Award from Motorola, received the University of Oklahoma Regents Alumni Award and was an honoree of the 40 Under 40: Tech Diversity in Silicon Valley Award. He has given Technology Talks at the University of California at Berkley, the University of California and his alma mater, the University of Oklahoma.

Devin said he had a wonderful experience that he wouldn’t trade for the world during his education at AME, leaving current students with some valuable advice: “Practical design and practical experience are everything. Whether that is achieved through SRT, other student teams or other exercises that allow you to make the transition from theory to practical, it’s critical,” said Devin. “It is not always just about the GPA. It’s about the combination of not only knowing the theory but executing it, as well. When an employer looks at your credentials and realizes they do not have to start from scratch, it’s like gold on a résumé.”

AME Board of Advisors Welcomes New Members

At the fall 2015 School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Board of Advisors’ meeting, Michelle Coppedge and Monica Browning Mitchell were first-time attendees as they joined AME Board of Advisors. As new members, Michelle and Monica provided valuable input and a fresh outlook during the bi-annual meeting.

Meet Michelle

Coppedge WebMichelle Coppedge is an AME alumna graduating with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering in 1988. She then attended Oklahoma City University where she earned her Master of Business Administration in 1991. Lastly, Michelle completed her Master of Science in industrial engineering at Purdue University in 1995.

Ms. Coppedge has 25 years of experience working as an engineer and overseeing engineers in both private industry and government. She worked 14 years at AT&T/Lucent Technologies, serving as the Director of Engineering, before moving to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Michelle currently serves as the Center Director for FAA’s Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center (MMAC). The MMAC is the second largest contingent of FAA employees outside of Washington, DC, employing 6,300 federal and contract employees, as well as hosting/training around 1,000 Air Traffic Control students.

Michelle was anxious to join the AME BoA. “I am passionate about engineering, the University of Oklahoma and investing in the future of young students that want to grow and develop,” Michelle said. “I hope to add more perspective from the aerospace industry to the board discussions.”

Meet Monica

Monica WebMonica Mitchell Browning is an alumna from the University of Oklahoma earning a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering in 1991 and a Master of Business Administration in 1994.

Ms. Mitchell has worked at AT&T since 1994. She has served in a variety of roles including Manager of Network Operations, Manager of Customer Service, Manager of RF Engineering, Manager of Switch Translations, Manager of Regional Network Operations Center, Director of Customer Care Strategy and Director of IT Mediation. Monica is currently the AT&T Executive Director of Technology. She also serves on two non-profit boards affiliated with the Air Force ROTC and the Air Force Association.

Because Monica works in the technology industry, her career and experience at AT&T along with the company’s relationship with OU has led her to join the AME BoA. “I love OU. I love mentoring students. AT&T believes that we have to partner with our local universities to increase interest in STEM programs,” Monica said. “They have encouraged us to spend time on activities like this board and to share with you the trends that we are seeing so that you can help students learn the skills that we need to see in industry.”

AME would like to welcome Michelle and Monica to the team! We thank you for your time and service to our students and our school.

Siddique Appointed as Associate Director

Zahed Siddique, Ph.D., recently was appointed as associate director of the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. In his role, he will work to improve AME’s profile to both internal and external stakeholders, involvement in special projects and the capstone program, and working closely with student groups and AME competition teams.Siddique

“I am excited for the opportunity to work with our exceptional faculty members, students, staff and industry partners to enhance the educational and research experiences of our students,” said Siddique.

Joining the AME team in 2000, Siddique currently is a professor teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses. Many of the courses he teaches are related to engineering design. Siddique also is the head of the mechanical engineering design practicum program. Some of his research interests include development of tools and framework to enhance engineering design education; design methodology; design for product variety; graph grammars in engineering design; product platform design; product portfolio management; virtual prototyping; and CAD support for product family design and design for the environment, just to name a few.

Siddique was awarded the Regents’ Award for Superior Teaching at OU and also the Ralph R. Teetor Education Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers in 2008. He belongs to many professional organizations, including the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Tau Beta Pi National Honor Society, Golden Key Honor Society, and the International Association of Science and Technology for Development, where he has served on the Technical Committee since 2001. 

In addition, Siddique recently was appointed to the Dick and Shirley O’Shields Professorship in Engineering. The professorship was made possible by the O’Shields’ devotion to the University of Oklahoma and their desire to provide opportunities for students and faculty. The couple donated roughly $1.5 million benefiting four separate funds in the Gallogly College of Engineering with one of them being the professorship. Mr. O’Shields was an AME graduate.

“I am honored to be appointed to the Dick and Shirley O’Shields Professorship, which will allow me to make significant contributions toward GCoE’s strategic goal on experiential learning,” said Siddique. “I expect to develop research-based education programs and tools for in-class and online courses to have a sustained and broad impact for the engineering community.”

AME director M. Cengiz Altan, Ph.D., says that private donations such as the O’Shields’ allow the school to recruit and retain faculty of the highest caliber.

“I am excited to have Dr. Siddique as the associate director. He has been an exemplary educator at OU and a national leader in engineering product design,” said Altan. “I am looking forward to working with him. He is a great addition to the AME leadership team.”

Mechanical Engineering Pre-Capstone: Project POP

The mechanical engineering capstone students were recently given a task to complete as their pre-capstone project titled Project POP. For this project, students teamed up to design, build and test a mechanism capable of traversing and maneuvering through a given obstacle course. After that, it had to transform itself into a piercing mechanism that could pierce through a surface layer made of Styrofoam. Then the mechanism had to pop a balloon lying underneath the Styrofoam surface. Students use Project POP to learn about principles of design.


  • The weight of the mechanism, including the power source, should not exceed two pounds
  • The device should have dimensions no longer than 1 ft. x 1 ft. x 1 ft. in any direction

Performance Test:

The Performance Test consisted of two parts:

  • Prospecting the obstacle course—This part tested the ability of the mechanism to traverse any kind of terrain, including sand, gravel, road bumps and grease. The amount of time taken to traverse the track from start to finish was used in the calculation of points.
  • Piercing—This part tested the versatility of the mechanism. After the mechanism crossed the finish line, it had to pierce through the Styrofoam layer and pop a balloon underneath the surface. The time clock started as soon as the mechanism crossed the finish line and then stopped when the mechanism had completely pierced the balloon. The time was used in the calculation of points for this portion of the test.

Each team was required to go through both performance tests twice. Students were allowed two minutes to set up their mechanism before each run on the obstacle course. The weight of the mechanism was measured before undergoing any of the performance tests. Lastly, the sum of the original points from both runs + bonus points – penalties was considered the group score. The team with the most points was granted as the winners of the competition.

1st Place: Team 2.8

AME4163_Team2.8 AME4163_Team2.8Device

Members: Jeremy Adams, Michael Allen, Keelan Prewett and Kyle Wager

2nd Place: Team 1.6

AME4163_Team1.6 AME4163_Team1.6Device

Members: Garrett Svane, Michael Howell, Tyler Spencer and Colin Sullivan

3rd Place: Team 2.11


Members: Joshua Ellenburg, Remington Butler, Michelle Musgrove and Marli Sussman

Congratulations to all the teams! Next stop: Capstone Poster Fair

To view more photos of Project POP, visit the AME Facebook page. 

Project Flyoff with Intro to Aerospace Engineering

Dr. Thomas Hays’ Introduction to Aerospace Engineering class recently designed and built gliders for testing. In teams of two, students chose one of three “proposals” to design and build a prototype for:  Range, Endurance or Payload.

On Dec. 10, 2015, the teams tested their glider prototypes in the field house. Each team launched their glider from a sled capable of propelling a one pound aircraft at 20 feet per second.

In addition to building the gliders, students wrote fully detailed reports requiring them to compute aircraft performance across the full range of possible speeds and all three mission objectives. Students developed code to calculate the best flight speed for their aircraft and perform simple trade studies to further optimize their score.

“The project naturally exposes students to the need for their future courses in flight mechanics, aerospace structures, aerodynamics and optimization,” said Dr. Hays. “It generated an environment where students naturally asked questions from these advanced topics, and the project also helped generate an eagerness to more completely answer questions about aircraft design.”


The winners of the Endurance Challenge were Colton Johnson and Jerrod Watson.


The winners of the Range Challenge were Sung Jae Kim and Shaik Zehad.

Check out the video of Kim and Zehad’s winning Range Challenge here.

Dr. Hays will continue this project in future classes, allowing each year to compete against the best records set by previous participants.

For more photos, please click here.

GSC Hosts International Food Festival

The School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student Community (GSC) hosted an International Food Festival at the end of October. The event was open to graduate students, faculty, family and friends. The attendees were encouraged to prepare a dish that represents food served traditionally in their country to share. The International Food Festival allowed for members of GSC and attendees to learn more about one another while experiencing aspects of different cultures.


AME Alumnus Featured in NSBE Magazine

Kayode S. Ifabiyi (pictured far right) graduated from the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering in May 2015 with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. Ifabiyi now works as an Aerospace Engineer at Boeing in Seattle, Washington. He was recently featured on the cover of the National Society of Black Engineers Magazine. Click here to check out the article.

NSBE Magazine Cover