Dr. Steven R. Little

Photo by Joshua Franzos

The Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh is proud to announce that Associate Professor Steven Little, PhD has been appointed Chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, effective May 1, 2012.

Dr. Little’s research focuses on the controlled release of drugs. He holds the Bicentennial Board of Visitors Endowed Faculty Fellowship and also retains appointments in the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine and in the Swanson School’s Department of Bioengineering. Recently, he was elected Chair of the Drug Delivery Special Interest Group in the Society for Biomaterials.

Dr. Little joined the Swanson School of Engineering in 2006 where his research focuses on the controlled release of drugs. He holds the Bicentennial Board of Visitors Endowed Faculty Fellowship and also retains appointments in the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine and in the Swanson School’s Department of Bioengineering. Recently, he was elected Chair of the Drug Delivery Special Interest Group in the Society for Biomaterials.

Dr. Little holds eight US patents and provisional applications for patents including new methods to fabricate controlled release vehicles in a high throughput fashion; dissolvable synthetic-vasculature; novel complex delivery vehicles; and a description of the first degradable, artificial cell. Since joining Pitt, Dr. Little has received funding from the National Institutes for Health, the National Science Foundation, the US Army, the US Department of Defense, the American Heart Association, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, and several industrial sources that total almost $5 million.

Dr. Little received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in 2005 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he held three National Graduate Fellowships and received the American Association for the Advancement of Science Excellence in Research Award for his work on engineered therapies that interface with the human immune system. He received a bachelor of engineering in Chemical Engineering from Youngstown State University in 2000.

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.

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.”

New Staff: Jim Cook

Jim Cook
Lab Coordinator

Jim Cook has been hired as a Lab Coordinator for the STEM College. He began in April and is assisting with automating research and teaching equipment. He is also interfacing general purpose and custom hardware with computers. He works primarily with faculty and researchers, but also assists students with computer hardware needs.

Jim graduated in 2005 from the University of Pittsburgh with a BS degree in Bioengineering. He worked for six years in the Medical Virtual Reality Lab at the University of Pittsburgh where he fabricated and maintained electronic and mechanical testing equipment. He also programmed data acquisition, automation, and data analysis software.

Some major projects Jim was involved with include the automation of a chemical reactor used for carbon absorption research and the configuration of a data logger for acquisition of weather data and wind turbine power generation data.

Jim hopes to enhance the learning and research environment at the University and continue to be a resource for the faculty and researchers at YSU.