YSU Engineering Students Win Award in Fracking Wastewater Treatment Competition

Youngstown State University (YSU) Civil Engineering students placed third out of ten universities in an Environmental Design Competition held at the University of Pittsburgh on March 31. The contest was part of the annual American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Ohio Valley Student Conference. Other universities participating included the University of Kentucky, University of Pittsburgh, University of Akron, Cleveland State University, Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, and Ohio University.

The main goal of the competition was to remove barium and turbidity from wastewater generated by hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) of shale for natural gas wells. The YSU team added simple household chemicals – Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) – to precipitate barium sulfate and neutralize pH, then passed the water through a sand filter to remove turbidity. Their design removed 93% of barium and 98% of turbidity from the wastewater. Their treatment performance score tied them for first place in this category with the University of Kentucky.

Research on the treatment method was performed by Darshan Baral, a graduate student in Civil Engineering. In laboratory studies, Darshan was able to achieve 99.9% removal of barium. The treatment apparatus was prepared and operated by Tom Bowser and Sentel Rodgers, both seniors majoring in Civil Engineering. The students were advised by Drs. Scott Martin (Civil Engineering) and Felicia Armstrong (Environmental Studies).

YSU Engineering Students Win Concrete Canoe Competition

Youngstown State University’s Concrete Canoe team dominated their regional competition at the University of Pittsburgh on March 30, placing first in four out of five races. The team also won first place awards for best design paper and best finished product, and placed first overall in the competition. They qualified to participate in the National Concrete Canoe Competition to be held June 15-16 at the University of Nevada, Reno. Nathan Knapp, a senior in civil engineering, is the concrete canoe team captain.

The competition was part of the annual American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Ohio Valley Student Conference, attended by civil engineering students from thirteen universities, including the University of Pittsburgh, Akron, Cleveland State, Carnegie Mellon, Ohio State, Ohio University, Cincinnati, University of Kentucky, Louisville, and Western Kentucky. The YSU students also placed second in the steel bridge building competition, earning an invitation to the National Student Steel Bridge Building Competition to be held May 24-26 at Clemson University in South Carolina. Dan Phillips, a civil engineering graduate student, is the steel bridge team captain.

In other conference events, the YSU Environmental Design team placed third out of ten teams in a contest requiring the removal of barium from hydraulic fracturing wastewater, and third place in the balsa wood bridge competition. Fourteen YSU engineering students attended the conference, along with faculty advisor, Dr. Scott Martin, and practitioner advisor, Adam DePizzo.

5th Annual Mahoning Valley Miniature Bridge Building Competition (MVMBBC)

During the National Engineers’ Week 2012, the 5th Annual MVMBBC was held on Friday, February 24, 2012, from 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Center at Youngstown State University. A total of 31 teams from 17 different high schools participated this year.

Teams arrived in the morning with their teacher/advisor and constructed their bridges on site, to meet the design specifications established by the competition. After allowing for lunch and glue drying time, bridges were inspected for adherence to design specifications and load-tested until failure. The winning bridge was chosen based on meeting the design criteria and the most efficient load carrying capacity to structure weight ratio. Winning 1st place was Lowellville High School, Team 1 with Carmen Donofiro, Randy Pavlicko and Bryan Schirald; Lowellville High School, Team 2 came in 2nd place with Dean Donatelli, Eric Inskeep and Michael Willliams. Both teams are coached by Travis Williams. This is the 3rd time in 5 years that Lowellville High School has won 1st place in the competition. Winning 3rd place was Niles-M1. The winning team achieved a load to weight ratio/structure efficiency of 1243.

The event involves design and construction of a balsa wood bridge followed by a load testing until failure. The goal of the MVMBBC is to promote civil engineering as a career choice to students, and to provide students with an educational opportunity to apply their knowledge to a real-world application. High school students in the Mahoning and Trumbull Counties are strongly encouraged to participate in this event since it will expose them to some basics of engineering design.

The competition has been organized and supported since 2008 by: Civil & Environmental Engineering at Youngstown State University; Mahoning County Engineer’s Office; Trumbull County Engineer’s Office; and ms consultants, inc.

CUTC Meeting and Outstanding Student Awards Dinner

Washington, D.C. was the destination of YSU’s Center for Transportation and Materials Engineering (CTME) Director, Joann Esenwein, and awards winner, Matthew Coppage, this past weekend, Jan. 21 – 22, 2012.

Matt, a senior in Civil Engineering, was selected for this award based on his ability to work with a team as well as individually, focusing on his leadership and problem solving skills. He has worked on various transportation-related research projects including the Center’s outreach programs and has assisted with various lab assignments. An active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)  student chapter, Matt participated in Contractor for a Day.

The Council of University Transportation Centers was established in 1979 by major transportation research centers and institutes in the United States and provides a forum for Universities and Centers to interact collectively with government and industry. Currently, there are over 130 academic institutions involved in membership representing the nation’s leading university-based transportation research and education programs whose members work to advance the state of the art in all modes and disciplines of transportation.

Dr. Hans Tritico accepted into FOEE Program

Dr. Hans Tritico, Assistant Professor for the Civil and Environmental Engineering department, was accepted into the Frontiers of Engineering Education program. The FOEE program is sponsored by the National Academy of Engineers. Approximately 50 engineering professors were selected to attend the symposium in Irvine, CA. Dr. Tritico will meet other leading engineering educators and brainstorm on ways to improve engineering education. They will then present their innovations to the engineering community.

Dr. Tritico said his ultimate goal for participating in the program is to help YSU students become the best engineers in the nation. He added that this is an opportunity to highlight the incredible teaching and learning that is going on at YSU. He is also looking forward to bringing back fresh ideas on curriculum and teaching methods to YSU and sharing those ideas with his colleagues.

Dr. Tritico teaches water resources engineering at YSU. He also teaches fluid mechanics and hydraulic design as well as co-teaches the capstone design course. His graduate level courses include sediment transport, water policy and advanced hydrology. He has done research in sustainable hydraulics with emphasis on stream restoration and fish passage design. He holds a joint PhD from the University of Michigan in both Civil Engineering and Aquatic Ecology.

He added, “It’s an honor that YSU and I have been recognized by the National Academy of Engineers for our innovations in engineering education. Such an honor is a testament to the quality of our students and the dedication of our faculty,”

STEM College students Begin Work on Concrete Canoe

Students from the STEM College begin work on the annual concrete canoe competition hosted by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Nathan Knapp, the team’s captain, said, “I want to expand my knowledge of the overall concrete canoe competition and pass my experiences to underclassmen. I hope to represent Youngstown State University at the national level.”

Nathan is a senior Civil Engineering student who has worked on the canoe project in the past. His team of eight other students includes Sammie Rovnak, Joe Reedy, Allison McMillen, Kim Klonowski, Mike Kaldy, Sentel Rodgers, Chris Jones, and Dan Phillips. They are working on the initial mix design first by using last year’s formula and improving it to be lighter and less dense. The team is performing a structural analysis to make sure the thickness of their hull design can withhold the pressure. The hull of the canoe can be no more than 22 feet long and 36 inches wide so the students are working to make sure the mix can withstand those dimensions and remain light for optimal racing agility.

The next step is to finish the mold. The cross sections for the mold are cut, and the team will pour the concrete on “place day” in December. Then, it will be sanded down, and a drywall compound will be applied to compliment the finish. Graphics and aesthetics will then be applied, and the students hope to have enough time to practice with it in the water.

The regional competition will take place on March 29-31, 2012 at the University of Pittsburgh where they will compete against other universities across the country and Canada. Schools that have competed in the past include Akron University, Western Kentucky, Ohio State University and Ohio University. The team must prepare a design paper and will also be judged on an oral presentation and the aesthetics of the canoe. Then, they will race it. Last year’s team placed second, and if they win this year, they will advance to nationals held in Nevada. For more information on the competition, visit www.asce.org.

Dr. Scott Martin of Mechanical Engineering is the faculty advisor on the project. He said, “Working on projects like the concrete canoe provides a real opportunity for engineering students to enhance their professional skills. They improve their understanding of the things they learned in their Civil Engineering courses, and also develop communication, teamwork, project management, and time management skills. On top of all that, they have a lot of fun, and gain confidence that they can compete with engineering students from anywhere.”

Publication: Developing a Multi-Faceted Survey of Engineering Course for Junior and Senior Level High School Students

Robert J. Korenic, Assistant Professor, Civil and Construction Engineering Technology, presented his research paper titled Developing a Multi-Faceted Survey of Engineering Course for Junior and Senior Level High School Students at the 2010-2011 American Society of Engineering Educators North Central/ Illinois-Indiana conference which was held at Central Michigan University on April 1 through April 2, 2011.