AME Represented at AERO Oklahoma Day 2019

Professor Thomas Hays and AME Communications Coordinator Rebeka Morales represented AME at the AERO Oklahoma Aviation & Aerospace Awareness Day on Tuesday, March 19, 2019. The event was held at the Oklahoma City Capitol and open to the public.

“AERO Oklahoma” Day places aviation and aerospace organizations front and center. As Oklahoma’s second largest industry, the purpose of this awareness day was to recognize this vital economic engine and to provide a greater understanding of the impact aviation has on the lives of Oklahoma’s citizens. It is a unique opportunity for Oklahoma aerospace companies, private and commercial pilots, airport managers, municipal officials, drone pilots, educators, flying clubs, and many other users of the Oklahoma Airport System to meet one-on-one with state legislators and other elected officials regarding aviation. During this aviation and aerospace awareness day, free exhibit booths from over 80 companies were represented.

For more information on the event, visit the Facebook event page.

Dr. Zuo Presents Seminar at OU

Dr. Jian Zuo gave a seminar over drug discovery for hearing loss on Thursday, March 14th at OU. Dr. Zuo is a chairman and professor from the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Creighton University School of Medicine.

Abstract: Hearing loss caused by aging, noise, cisplatin toxicity, or other insults affects 360 million people worldwide, but there are no Food and Drug Administration–approved drugs to prevent or treat it. We first performed high-throughput screens for small molecules that prevent cisplatin-induced hearing loss in a cochlear derived cell line. The hit compounds were further validated in cochlear explants, zebrafish lateral-line neuromasts in vivo, and eventually in mouse and rat’s cochleae in vivo. We have so far identified and characterized several potent compounds that exhibit protection against not only cisplatin but also antibiotics and noise-induced hearing loss. We further investigated several targets of top compounds in knockout mouse models. To treat hearing loss, we first developed genetic mouse models in which hair cell regeneration occurred at adult ages. Based on the genetic manipulations, we performed high-throughput screens of small molecules that mimic the genetics models. We further tested these top compounds in adult mice for hair cell regeneration. Combinatory applications of these top compounds could provide therapeutic intervention of hearing loss in clinics.

Biography: Jian Zuo obtained his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China in 1985. He then immigrated to the US for his Ph.D. in Physiology from UCSF in 1993. After postdoc training in Rockefeller University, he became a faculty at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis since 1998. After 20 years, he recently moved to Creighton University School of Medicine as the Chairman and Professor in the Dept. of Biomedical Sciences in April 2018. He has published >100 research articles and >20 reviews with high impacts. He currently has 2 R01 grants, 2 DoD grants, and one MRC grant. He has trained many successful students and postdocs and has interests in the commercialization of his discoveries.

AME Hosts Seminar by Dr. Srinivas Kolla

Srinivas Swaroop Kolla, Ph.D., a research associate at the University of Tulsa, presented a seminar Friday, March 8th at OU. He spoke about the design and performance of gas-liquid cylindrical cyclone compact separators.

Abstract: Compact separation technology has continuously improved significantly in recent years, due to its applications in a variety of industries, such as Oil & Gas, Chemical, Environmental, and Aerospace. The conventional separators that are based on gravity, are bulky, heavy and expensive, which are being replaced by compact separators that have smaller foot-print, higher productivity and are less expensive to procure and operate. Gas-Liquid Cylindrical Cyclone (GLCC©) separator is one such compact separator that is simple and easy to install and operate with more than 6800 applications including subsea. The presentation covers various aspects of design modifications of GLCC separators and quantifying its performance under the limiting conditions using control strategies. Details of experimental research conducted to investigate the two undesirable phenomena, namely, Liquid Carry-Over and Gas Carry-Under are presented. The Structural integrity analysis of the GLCC inlet section is conducted using the FEA and the design modifications are validated using CFD simulations. A comparative study of the FEA analysis results and Fluid-Structure Interaction analysis results is presented. In addition, different mechanistic models developed to quantify the LCO and GCU of the GLCC are discussed. Finally, short-term and long-term research goals are presented along with guiding principles of teaching philosophy.

Biography: Dr. Srinivas Swaroop Kolla received his B.S degree (2002) from Nagarjuna University in India and M.S. (2007) and Ph.D. (2018) degrees from The University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, all in Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Kolla has 9 years of experience pursuing a professional career working in cross-functional teams across Europe and India on industry projects including Oil & Gas, Medical and Automotive sectors. Between 2007 and 2015, he worked in various roles starting as a Research Engineer to Project Manager leading teams developing components and systems. During his career with FMC Technologies in France, he worked on the project “PRELUDE” an FLNG/FPSO unit being developed currently by Samsung Industries. Dr. Kolla has a multi-disciplinary background in mechanical and petroleum engineering and his research focus on Multiphase Flow, Separation Technologies, Pressure vessels, Flow Assurance, Pumps and Design of components & Systems using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) as well as Fluid-Structure Interaction (FSI). He has published several refereed journal and conference papers, while some are under review.  He has also applied for 2 US patents and few more are being prepared for submission this year. He serves on executive committee of ASME Mid-Continent Section and Co-organizer of Multiphase Flow Technical Track in ASME Fluid Engineering Division Summer Conference and a member of FMTC, CFDTC, MFTC technical committees.  He also serves as a reviewer for several conferences and journals. Dr. Kolla has received several awards, scholarships, and fellowships during his career. His awards over the past 3 years include ASME Petroleum Division Scholarship, ASME Fluid Engineering Division-Graduate Scholarship, The University of Tulsa Distinguished Chapman Scholarship, Graduate Student Fellowship and Bellwether Fellowship.

Dr. Edward Guo Presents Seminar over Bone Bioengineering

Edward Guo, Ph.D., a Chair and Stanley Dicker Professor for the department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University, gave a seminar on Wednesday, March 6th at OU. His seminar was over bone bioengineering: microstructure, mechanics, mechanobiology and beyond.

Abstract: Bone Bioengineering Laboratory is developing innovative technology in microstructural assessments, biomechanical modeling, multiscale and mechanobiological approaches in skeletal research. Bone Bioengineering has both basic science and clinical significances in many medical fields, such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, or intervertebral disc degenerations. I will highlight our development of a three-dimensional imaging analysis and modeling technique for trabecular bone microstructure, its applications in basic science research of bone mechanics, and clinical applications in osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. We will discuss bone microstructural phenotypes in difference races and their implications in genetic and precision medicine, anthropology, evolution and mechanobiology of the skeletons. In parallel to these developments, we will also discuss our multiscale mechanobiological approaches in understanding the mechanisms of how bone senses and responds to mechanical loading and showcase how mechanobiology links to bone microstructure and mechanics.

Biography: Dr. Guo received his M.S. in 1990 and Ph.D. in 1994 in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics from Harvard University-MIT. In 1994-1996, Professor Guo did his postdoctoral fellowship in the Orthopaedic Research Laboratories at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor with Professor Steven A. Goldstein in orthopaedic bioengineering. In 1996 he joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering and then Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2001, Associate Professor with tenure in 2003, Professor in 2007, and named as Stanley Dicker Professor in 2018. He directs the Bone Bioengineering Laboratory in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia focusing his research interests in micromechanics of bone tissue, computational biomechanics, and mechanobiology of bone. His past honors include Young Investigator Recognition Award from the Orthopaedic Research Society, National Research Service Award from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), a CAREER award from the US National Foundation of Science (NSF), Funds for Talented Professionals (Joint Research Fund for Overseas Chinese Young Scholars) from the National Natural Science Foundation of China. He is elected fellow of American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineerin. He was one of the founders and served as co-Editor-in-Chief of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (CMBE), an international journal of US Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). He has served many review panels for NIH, NSF, and NASA. His research has been supported by the Whitaker Foundation, the NSF, and the NIH. He served as President of International Chinese Musculoskeletal Research Society, the Society for Physical Regulation in Biology and Medicine, Member of Board of Directors of Orthopaedic Research Society, and Member of Board of Directors of AIMBE. He also founded the Special Interest Group (SIG) in CMBE in the BMES and served as its founding Chair.

Dr. Kazempoor Presents Seminar over Driving Sustainable Performance in the Oil and Gas Industry

Pejman Kazempoor, Ph.D., gave a seminar on Thursday, February 21, about driving sustainable performance in the oil and gas industry. Dr. Kazempoor is a senior engineer and project manager at Baker-Hughes, a GE company.

Abstract: The world energy consumption is projected to grow by 28% between 2015 and 2040, with fossil fuels accounting for more than three-quarters of the world energy mix during this period. As oil & gas (O&G) will remain essential to global economic development for decades to come, global concerns about climate change and pollution are leading to a focus on the amount of energy it takes to produce hydrocarbon fuels. Energy efficiency and emissions reduction, which are intrinsically connected, have been identified as important challenges to the O&G industry and positive drivers that can improve productivity, lower operating costs, and reduce environmental impacts. This presentation is designed to provide a deeper understanding of sustainable energy in the O&G sector and to offer a comprehensive explanation of the opportunities available to achieve it. The main emphasis will be on natural gas and its associated production, processing, and transportation technologies. Specifically, emissions reduction and mitigation technologies, waste energy, and fuel utilization techniques, and natural gas process optimization will be discussed in more detail. The author’s previous and current fundamental research projects and industrial work experience in the same field will be presented. The seminar will conclude by highlighting future research directions and potential projects.

Biography: Pejman Kazempoor is a senior engineer and project manager at Baker-Hughes, a GE company (formerly known as GE Global Research -Oil and Gas Technology Center). He is responsible for driving innovative research and development activities and taking new technologies from the conceptual stage to full commercialization. His current and previous projects at BHGE focus on four specific areas: emission reduction techniques and technologies, sustainability, and energy efficiency, natural gas monetization, and renewable energy application in the Oil & Gas Industry.  Pejman graduated with his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in Dec. 2009 from Tarbiat Modares University (TMU), Tehran in partnership with EMPA, Switzerland (ETH-Zurich Domain), where he investigated building integrated co- and poly-generation systems in the framework of the multi-national Polysmart project. He received the Presidential Award, two best conference paper awards, and the TMU outstanding Ph.D. student award for his Ph.D. work and accomplishments. Pejman is the recipient of BHGE’s 2018 Technology Excellence Award, a referee for 15 high-prestige journals in the field of thermal and fluid sciences, and Associate Editor for Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering-Elsevier. He also published more than 50 papers in various national and international peer-reviewed journals and conferences, including a book chapter. Pejman innovative experience is also highlighted by three issued patents, as well as four pending patents.



Dr. L’Afflitto is Guest on “Just Sow” Podcast

Wednesday, February 20, Dr. L’Afflitto was featured on an episode of OU’s “Just Sow” podcast where he spoke about drone technology.

In the podcast, Dr. L’Afflitto spoke about the future of drones at home and in the office. According to Dr. L’Afflitto, drones could be especially beneficial to those who have mobility impairments. The drones he is designing right now will help people with disorders to more easily manipulate and operate the world around them. He is currently trying to overcome the many technological challenges that go along with this project.

Dr. L’Afflitto said he believes that drones will be one of the many tools available for us in the future. He sees us using drones for picking up groceries, lifting heavy objects in warehouses, and supporting our ground troops. Teaching the drones to do these activities are just some of the things he’s working on in the lab. He also spoke about how he incorporates biology into his drone technology. However, he said that mathematical problems are at the heart of this research. Dr. L’Afflitto said it’s hard for him to imagine someone who would not be fascinated by drone technology.

Click here to visit Dr. L’Afflitto’s website.

Dr. Garg Receives NSF CAREER Grant

On February 7, Assistant Professor Jivtesh Garg was awarded the CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation. He will be working on the investigation of strain and superior functionalization schemes for large enhancement of thermal conductivity in polymer-graphene nanocomposites and binary semiconductors. The NSF grant award for this project is a total of $500,000.

The NSF CAREER project targets large enhancement in thermal conductivity of polymer-graphene nanocomposites and group III-V semiconductors. Such high thermal conductivity polymers and semiconductors will significantly improve thermal management in electronics, automotive, aerospace, power generation, and energy harvesting applications. The approach involves simultaneously aligning the most thermally conductive paths in polymer and graphene particles and also covalently bonding the two to enhance thermal conductance at the polymer-graphene interface. Promising results have been achieved by our group in preliminary work. The thermal conductivity of semiconductor materials will be enhanced through phonon lifetime engineering.

The project also aims to enhance the participation of high school students through a summer camp program. To stimulate fascination with thermal transport, high school students will measure thermal response through colorful visualization of temperatures maps using infra-red imaging. Simultaneously the program will aim to enhance diversity by engaging American Indian students from various colleges in Oklahoma. The participants will develop an understanding of both atomistic simulations and perform experimental characterization of thermal transport.

Within polymers, thermal conductivity is highest along the polymer chain axis. Similarly, graphene nanoplatelets have dramatically higher in-plane compared to through-plane thermal conductivity. Simultaneous alignment of polymer chains and planar direction of nanoplatelets is achieved in this project through strain. Alignment is characterized through microscopy and imaging. As a second aspect, non-equilibrium Green’s function computations are used to achieve understanding of covalent bonding schemes enabling superior interfacial thermal conductance between polymer and graphene. Functionalized polymer composites will be prepared through such efficient schemes and thermally characterized in this work both experimentally and via atomistic simulations.

Finally, energy gap in the vibrational spectra of certain group III-V semiconductors has been shown to dramatically suppress scattering of low energy phonons, leading to large enhancement in phonon lifetimes, thus increasing overall material thermal conductivity. We have demonstrated this effect in ideal short-period superlattices and more recently in Gallium Nitride. This project will computationally explore strain engineering to further increase energy gap, resulting in higher phonon lifetimes. Strain effects will be quantified accurately through a first-principles approach based on deriving interatomic force interactions from density-functional theory and using them in an exact solution of the phonon Boltzmann transport equation.

Dr. Garg says that he is very thankful to National Science Foundation (NSF) for awarding him this grant. It will allow him to significantly enhance research, in his group, related to thermal transport at the atomistic scale for design of advanced materials for thermal management and energy conversion applications.

Congratulations Dr. Garg!

Dr. Song Receives Multiple Awards for Current Research

Dr. Li Song, an associate professor at AME, received three awards for her current research projects. Two awards are from the Department of Energy, and the third award is from Battelle – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Song is the lead PI for the development and validation of a home comfort system for total performance deficiency/fault detection and optimal control project, which received a DOE fund of $993,149. The research team will develop and validate a smart thermostat-integrated low-cost home energy management system, including a data connection framework; a computationally efficient, self-learning home thermal model; automatic fault detection and analysis algorithms; and home energy management information and controls based on in-situ measured efficiencies of heating and cooling equipment, the air distribution system, and the building envelope.

The second DOE fund is $551,566 for the performance demonstration of an occupancy sensor-enabled integrated solution for commercial buildings project. The research team will validate the performance and savings of three HVAC control (fan, cooling coil valve, outside air) algorithms integrated with occupancy sensing data to optimize ventilation delivery.

A $50,000 award was given to Song from Battelle – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for her Transactive-Control Based Connected Home Solution for Existing Residential Units and Communities project.

This is a summary of Song’s research proposal sent to Battelle: To obtain the overall project aims, the development of machine learning techniques to calibrate the initial physical model that estimates and predicts energy use of a house and its response to control signals is extremely important. An effective home thermal model, that can predict the indoor air temperature dynamics under different weather, HVAC output and internal gains from appliances and occupants, is essential for the development.

BEEL initiated the development of a self-learning home thermal model two years ago. The BEEL home model, currently limited for a house with an A/C and gas-furnace heater, can automatically identify the model parameters with minimum data needed and precisely predict the space temperature and home HVAC energy uses for a house. To enhance the connectivity and compatibility of the platform proposed by PNNL, BEEL is committed to expand the home thermal model for a heat pump system and test enhanced home model using two houses located in Oklahoma through the partnership with OG&E. The challenge of modeling the heat pump is that the heating output from a heat pump is no longer constant as is for a gas furnace heater. A correlation of the heating output of a heat pump and outdoor air temperature needs to be formulated and similarly, a correlation between cooling output of a heat pump and weather might be needed for cooling season as well.

Congratulations Dr. Song!



Chinedum Ezeakacha presents over Performance Verification and Material Testing of Liner Hanger Sealing Components for Oil and Gas Application

On Friday, February 8, AME hosted a seminar from Chinedum Peter Ezeakacha, a post-doctoral research associate at the Well Construction Technology center at OU. In his research, he speaks about performance verification and material testing of liner hanger sealing components for oil and gas application.

Abstract: Drilling operations, particularly in an offshore environment, require special tools and equipment. Liners and liner hangers are commonly used in offshore drilling applications instead of full string casings. When a well section is drilled, liner hanger and cement are used to engage and seal off the liner, connecting it to the previous casing. Typically, the liner hanger seal assembly is placed up-stream to the cement column. This arrangement prevents the independent evaluation of the integrity of both mechanical barriers (cement and liner hanger seal) after installation. The report from an oil and gas regulatory agency highlighted that the cause of a recent underground kick with this type of arrangement can be linked to the failure of he mechanical barriers under the operating conditions. While some of the design criteria for liner hangers are obtained from API 17D (Design and Operation of Subsea Production Systems – Subsea Wellhead and Tree Equipment), there is currently no standard that specifically addresses liner hangers or seals, nor how to test them. In this seminar, the performance of cement sheath and elastomeric seals used in liner hangers will be presented. Different downhole conditions in which these mechanical barriers can fail were simulated. The scope of the project necessitated a cross-disciplinary investigation involving the knowledges from mechanical engineering, petroleum engineering, and civil/material engineering. Thus, the barrier testing protocols were developed in consonance with the key questions raised by the agency, existing practice in 30 CFR 250.425, as well as ASTM and ASME standards. The summary of the findings in this study points towards testing the mechanical barriers for the anticipated downhole conditions before deploying them, particularly in gas-migration prone zones. In this study, the term “barrier(s)” defines the use of cement sheath and the liner hanger sealing assembly to prevent uncontrolled influx and migration of formation fluid to a shallow formation or surface facilities.

Biography: Chinedum Peter Ezeakacha is a post-doctoral research associate at the Well Construction Technology Center, The University of Oklahoma. He holds a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from Nnamdi Azikiwe University Nigeria (2009). After his bachelors’ program, he worked with ExxonMobil in Nigeria as a petroleum engineer from 2010 to 2011. Before enrolling in graduate school (spring 2013), he provided field support for installation, operation, and maintenance of compressed natural gas and pressure reduction stations for NG Equipment and Systems Ltd Nigeria (2011 to 2012). From 2013 to 2015, he instructed three lab sessions (well control, drilling fluids, and petrophysics), and one class (drilling engineering) at The University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In December 2014, he earned a M.Sc. in Engineering from UL Lafayette. Chinedum received his Ph.D. in Petroleum Engineering from the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering at The University of Oklahoma in December 2018. During his 6-year graduate program in both colleges, Chinedum had 4 scholarships and 3 travel grants/support. He participated in 12 regional, national, and international graduate student research paper contests out of which won the 1st place award three times, 2nd place award once, and 3rd place award twice. He also participated in the SPE International Petrobowl Competition in 2014 as a player (placed 5th in Amsterdam The Netherlands), in 2015 as a coach (placed 4th in Houston Texas), and in 2016 as a coach (placed 2nd in Dubai UAE). Chinedum has presented more than 12 papers at several regional, national, and international conferences, meetings, and symposiums. He has published 9 papers in 5 journals (JERT, JPSE, JNGSE, Polymer, and JPEPT) and 14 conference papers (ASME OMAE, SPE, IADC/SPE, AADE, and ARMA). His research interests are in well integrity, downhole tool/material performance, design of experiments and data analysis, and wellbore stability.




AME Student Kaley Hassell has been Selected as a Brooke Owens Fellow

On February 5, Kaley Hassell, an undergraduate aerospace engineering student, was selected to receive the 2019 Brooke Owens Fellowship.

Hassell decided to apply for the Brooke Owens Fellowship program when she saw that it offered opportunities to work with amazing aerospace companies. As a selected fellow, Kaley Hassel will be working with the engineering department at Sierra Nevada Corporation on the Dream Chaser spacecraft. She will get the opportunity to work with astronauts and CEO’s.

Hassell says that OU’s aerospace program cemented her love for engineering. She has gotten to practice her aerospace skills through rocketry research and her involvement on the Formula SAE Sooner Racing Team. She is the chief aerodynamics engineer on the team and helps to design and build Formula style racing cars for competition. Hassell is very excited to have been selected for this program and looks forward to practicing her skills even more.

The Brooke Owens Fellowship is a very competitive program that offers only 38 women per year paid internship opportunities at top engineering companies. The selection process is extremely competitive with hundreds of applicants from top universities and only a select number of winners.

Congratulations Kaley!