CEEatGT Update: April 2019

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Senior designs
Vakaa Design — a team comprising, left to right, Justin Liu, Chris Folsom, Kailee Unangst and Hannah Davis — accepts the first-place check for civil and environmental engineering at the spring 2019 Capstone Design Expo alongside Associate Professor Kari Watkins. The team had to design the alignment of new express lanes along Interstate 285 in northwest Atlanta, including the structural elements to supported the elevated lanes. (Photo: Amelia Neumeister)Express lanes for the top end of Atlanta’s Interstate 285 are coming. Some of the ideas of Georgia Tech students could help make them a reality. Team Vakaa Design combined transportation and structural engineering to create a possible route for the lanes for a crucial stretch of highway where I-285 and I-75 meet in Cobb County. Their project won top prize among the 16 senior design projects from the School at the spring 2019 Capstone Design Expo April 23. Other projects created trail designs, stormwater management plans, or site designs for various businesses. One studied road crashes involving pedestrians in Cobb County. Another refined a fuel and emissions calculator to help the Port of Los Angeles understand the impact of switching their fleet of 100,000 diesel trucks to battery-electric or plug-in hybrid trucks. Photos from the expo >>>

Morphing origamiA new type of origami can morph from one pattern into a different one, or even a hybrid of two patterns, instantly altering many of its structural characteristics. (Photo: Allison Carter)

Professor Glaucio Paulino and his team have created a new type of origami that can morph from one pattern into a different one, or even a hybrid of two patterns, instantly altering many of its structural characteristics. The research could unlock new types of origami-based structures or metamaterials that leverage the characteristics of two types of origami. It appeared April 19 in the journal Physical Review Letters and as one of the journal's focus stories.

Next frontierGraphic of cars, trucks and buses with clouds of smoke and a hazy city skyline. Text: The Next Frontier in Air Quality - Finding new ways to understand air pollution. (Graphic: Sarah Collins)

The American Lung Association says Atlanta is one of the nation’s worst for air pollution. But there’s a silver lining: Atlanta’s pollutants create a perfect research setting for Assistant Professor Jennifer Kaiser. She leads research focused on the emissions and chemistry of air pollutants, working to understand how nature and humans contribute to air pollution. Understanding those processes, she said, will help local, regional and global leaders make better policy.

Ideas to Serve solutions winner Abigail Cohen and judge Kathleen Kurre with Cohen's giant prize check. (Photo Courtesy: Scheller College of Business)

Sustainable agtech Two environmental engineering Ph.D. students won first place at the 2019 Ideas to Serve competition for finding a way to help small farmers grow “off the grid.” Abigail Cohen and Amanda Lai proposed a new sanitation system that would allow growers to harvest nutrients from waste and create sustainable fertilizer — reducing their reliance on energy-intensive and expensive traditional fertilizers.

Georgia Tech’s American Society of Civil Engineers chapter won second place overall at the 2019 Carolinas Regional Conference, including top finishes in the paper competition as well as the structural tower load efficiency, steel bridge weight, and steel bridge aesthetics categories. (Photo Courtesy: David Scott)

ASCE cruises It was another banner weekend for the Georgia Tech chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers at the annual Carolinas Regional Conference. Chapter member Jessica Kissel won the Daniel W. Mead paper competition, and teams took second place in the innovation and structural tower contests. Together with a third-place showing in the steel bridge competition, that added up to a second-place overall win for the chapter.

Environmental engineering Ph.D. student Laura Mast, left, and math Ph.D. student Samantha Petti visit Georgia congressman John Lewis' office. They were unable to meet with Lewis, but they did have conversations with staffers from several Georgia representatives' offices during the Catalyzing Advocacy for Scientists and Engineers Workshop, a three-day crash course in federal policymaking and science advocacy. Mast and Petti were the only two students from Georgia Tech who attended. (Photo: Robert Knotts)

Advocating for science Environmental engineering Ph.D. student Laura Mast spent a few days in the nation’s capital at a workshop where she learned the nitty-gritty of federal policymaking and how to advocate for science. She was one of two graduate students from Georgia Tech at the Catalyzing Advocacy for Scientists and Engineers workshop. It amounted to a crash course in how the federal government funds science and ended with students meeting congressional staffers and lawmakers. Read her thoughts on the experience.

First-year Ph.D. student Aaron Miller

Scholarships I In just his first year of Ph.D. studies, civil engineering graduate student Aaron Miller already has attracted the attention of the nation’s concrete industry. His work on ultra high performance concrete that would drastically speed up bridge construction has won Miller the Katharine and Bryant Mather Scholarship, one of just six national scholarships for grad students from the American Concrete Institute.

Undergraduates Marissa Grant and Suleman Rana

Scholarships II Civil engineering undergraduates Marissa Grant and Suleman Rana were among the students to win national scholarships from Chi Epsilon, the civil engineering honor society. They were the only two students in Georgia honored by the society this year.

Professor Spyros Pavlostathis

Pohland Medal When Spyros Pavlostathis joined the Georgia Tech faculty in 1991, he replaced a long-time professor named Frederick Pohland. They shared an interest in anaerobic biological processes for treating wastewater and restoring the environment, so it was a fitting succession. Now Pavlostathis has won a medal named for his predecessor that honors researchers who’ve worked to bridge environmental engineering research, education and practice.
  Structure of a methane clathrate block found embedded in sediment in the subduction zone off Oregon’s coast. A German research ship found this hydrate roughly 4,000 feet below the ocean’s surface in the top layer of the ocean floor. (Photo Courtesy: Wusel007 via Wikimedia Commons)
Exobiology An interdisciplinary team of Georgia Tech geo-microbiologists, biochemists, and geo-engineers have just begun work to understand the role of microbes in the formation of frozen pockets of natural gas found deep under the Earth’s oceans. These methane clathrate formations may also exist on our solar system’s frozen moons and could harbor extraterrestrial microorganisms. Supported by NASA, Assistant Professor Sheng Dai will work with the team to understand how the hydrate crystallizes in high-pressure environments and the proteins involved.
Civil engineering alumnus G. Ben Turnipseed, who was inducted into the Georgia Tech Engineering Hall of Fame April 6. (Photo: Gary Meek)
Hall of Fame + Impact G. Ben Turnipseed has joined the Georgia Tech Engineering Hall of Fame, an honor reserved for alumni who have reached the highest levels of professional achievement. He was inducted alongside seven others at the College of Engineering’s Alumni Awards. Dean Steven McLaughlin also honored 2018 graduate Arjun Bir with the Dean's Impact Award. Bir runs a water-testing startup in his native India.