Fall 2015 News & Recognition

Four Teaching Areas Dedicated for Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering Teaching Labs Dedication at the University of Kentucky. Thursday June 25, 2015 Photo by Joseph Rey Au


n June 25, the College of Engineering held a ceremony in the Joseph G. and Suzanne W. Teague Courtyard of the engineering quadrangle to dedicate four teaching and laboratory spaces that were updated through generous personal and corporate donations. The spaces will be used by the college’s Department of Civil Engineering.

“Outstanding facilities breed creativity and collaboration,” said John Walz, dean of the UK College of Engineering. “They are critical for attracting the best faculty and students to our program, as well as allowing our faculty, staff and students to achieve their fullest potential.”

The spaces dedicated are as follows:

  • David & Margaret Houchin Intech Contracting Construction Management Lab
  • Palmer Engineering Classroom
  • Stantec Civil Engineering Design Lab
  • Stantec Civil Engineering Materials Lab

David Houchin formed Intech Contracting LLC, a Kentucky-based construction contracting company. Houchin is a charter member of the College of Engineering Construction Management Founders Society and received the Construction Management Founders Society Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

Ralph Palmer and Dick Nunan founded Palmer Engineering in February 1969. Through their vision and leadership, the company has grown to nine offices in four states. Palmer Engineering offers surveying, environmental, land development, structure, transportation and water resources services.

The Stantec community unites more than 15,000 employees working in over 250 locations. Since 1954, they have specialized in professional consulting in planning, engineering, architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, surveying, environmental sciences, project management and project economics.

Yang Receives Microsoft Award to Develop Real- Time Tele-collaboration

The labs of Dr. Ruigang Yang in the Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments.


uigang Yang, professor of computer science, has received a Microsoft Surface Hub for Research award totaling $25,000 to develop tele-collaboration/presence using the Surface Hub.

The Microsoft Surface Hub is a new large-screen pen and touch device designed to advance team collaboration and productivity. Microsoft is currently developing business productivity and collaboration applications, but the company has awarded grants to 10 researchers across the world to explore the potential of the Surface Hub for education.

Funds from the award and a complimentary Surface Hub will allow Yang and a graduate student to develop a real-time detailed motion capture system that is able to generate complete and water-tight 3-D models of humans in motion, providing a more convincing experience for tele-conferencing. Further, Yang’s project seeks to limit the input to a single camera so it can be integrated into the Surface Hub without the need for calibration and a large footprint.

Yang’s research interests include computer graphics and computer vision, specifically in 3-D reconstruction and data analysis. He has taught at UK since 2003.

Cramer Receives 2015 Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award


his spring, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) named electrical engineering assistant professor Aaron Cramer one of its 2015 Young Investigator award recipients. Of the 383 research proposals aimed at “potential breakthrough advances for the Navy and Marine Corps” submitted to the ONR, Cramer’s was one of 36 to earn funding from a pool of $18.8 million.

cramer-aaron1The focus of Cramer’s work is part of the growing trend toward smarter modes of transportation—in his case, naval warships powered entirely by electricity. According to Cramer, such ships are the future.

Cramer notes that ships currently populating the naval fleet are hindered by an energy imbalance; that is, almost all of the ship’s energy is directed toward enabling the ship to move. With the transition to all-electric power, an abundance of options emerge. Determining where the energy should go is the core of the proposal that made Cramer a Young Investigator. His project, titled “Market-Based Control of Shipboard Engineering Plants,” combines electrical engineering with economic theory to develop value-based models for control.

Cramer has taught at UK since 2010.

National Science Foundation Awards $6 Million to UK and Three Partner Schools to Develop Weather Research Drones

Dr. Suzanne Smith


$6 million National Science Foundation grant will allow researchers at the University of Kentucky, Oklahoma State University, University of Oklahoma and University of Nebraska to develop unmanned aircraft systems, otherwise known as drone systems, to study atmospheric physics for improved precision agriculture and weather forecasting.

The project, called CLOUD MAP for “Collaboration Leading Operational UAS Development for Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics,” was awarded through the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and is being led by Oklahoma State University. Led by Suzanne Smith, the Donald and Gertrude Lester Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the NASA Kentucky Space Grant and EPSCoR Programs, the UK team will include mechanical engineering associate professor Sean Bailey, mechanical engineering assistant professor Jesse Hoagg, biosystems and agricultural engineering assistant professor Michael Sama and chemistry assistant professor Marcelo Guzman.

Unmanned aircraft systems are currently used in search and rescue, infrastructure inspection and in many other ways to gather information via cameras and specialty sensors. The four-university interdisciplinary team will develop small, affordable systems to measure wind, atmospheric chemistry, soil moisture and thermodynamic parameters. Doing so will provide meteorologists with data needed to build better forecasting models.

UK Part of Consortium Awarded $6 Million NSF Grant for Brain Imaging



he National Science Foundation has awarded $6 million to researchers in Kentucky, Oklahoma and Rhode Island to develop innovative and broadly accessible brain imaging technologies to provide insight into how the nervous system functions in health and disease. Sridhar Sunderam, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering is co-principal investigator of the project. His team of UK researchers
includes Abhijit Patwardhan, interim chair, professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Biomedical Engineering; Guoqiang Yu, associate professor of biomedical engineering; and Bruce O’Hara, professor in the Department of Biology.

Brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) are increasingly being used not only as assistive devices for individuals with motor impairment, but also to augment rehabilitative treatment and to interact with media such as video games. Sunderam will develop algorithms and test interactive protocols for modulating the sensorimotor rhythm of the brain using a BMI.

Undergraduate students with an interest in neural engineering, as well as graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, will have opportunities to participate in projects related to brain imaging and function.

In Other News…

  • The quarter-scale tractor team won the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers International Quarter-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition for the second year in a row. The team has three first-place finishes in the past four years. In 2013, it placed second.
  • David A. Puleo, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, was named Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies. He began his duties July 1.
  • Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Research went to the James F. Hardymon Chair in Manufacturing Systems I.S. Jawahir and biomedical engineering associate professor Guoqiang Yu. Awards for Excellence in Service went to materials engineering professor John Balk and chemical engineering associate professor Jeffrey Seay.
  • Materials engineering assistant professor Matt Beck and computer science lecturer Debby Keen received Provost’s Outstanding Teaching Faculty Awards.
  • 2015 mechanical engineering graduate Jake Ingram won the Otis A. Singletary Outstanding Senior Male Award.
  • Jim Kurose, Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation for Computer and Information Science and Engineering, delivered the annual Dean’s Lecture Series talk on April 13. It was titled “An Expanding and Expansive View of Computing.”
  • The Engineering Residential College (ERC) living learning program moved into the brand-new Woodland Glen III residence hall this fall. After a record 400 students in 2014-2015, there are 512 students in the ERC for 2015-2016.