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Engineering

Pavlo Rudenko
Spring 2014

Pavlo Rudenko ’09—As fast as he can go

Imagine particles that can self-assemble at the nano-scale, so that machinery can delay its need for repair. Or that your 20-year-old truck could suddenly become more fuel efficient than today’s model.

Two years ago physics graduate student Pavlo Rudenko ’09 MS started his company, TriboTEX LLC, to develop bio-based super lubricants. He found that nanoparticles of ceramic powders in lubricants can, at high temperatures, create a film on metal surfaces that reduces both friction and wear behaviors.

He bought used analytical equipment off eBay and is running the business on a shoestring out of his home in Colfax.

Last summer he won a highly competitive … » More …

Gleason statue
Spring 2014

Predictive software helps communication

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a terminal disease that attacks motor neurons, causing patients to lose muscle function. Patients gradually lose their ability to move or speak. Since patients can still move their eyes, advances in eye-tracking technology allow them to operate computer programs, including text to speech software. This eye-tracking technology is the person’s last link to communication—the key to a social or productive life.

However, existing software and hardware is expensive and not accessible to most people with the disease. Led by Professor Dave Bakken ’85, a group of computer science students is working to develop a less … » More …

Dan Rottler on windmill
Winter 2013

Dan Rottler ’92—Atop towers of power

On a windy night, when some of us might worry about things going bump in the dark, Dan Rottler ’92 frets over 20-ton boxes of gears turning more than 200 feet above the ground. The gearboxes are like outsized automobile transmissions, capable of cranking the energy of the slowly turning 16-rpm blade of a wind turbine up to 1,800 rpm.

As plant manager of Puget Sound Energy’s Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility, Rottler has 149 of these beasts to lose sleep over. Not to mention wildfires, lightning strikes, microbursts of changing weather, blizzards, ice-covered power lines, and even more unexpected things, like the time … » More …

Winter 2013

The Beguiling Science of Bodies in Motion

Despite its many mysteries, biomechanics serves up surprises about strained muscles and bones broken and mended.

Earlier this year, at the ripe age of 38, Bernard “Kip” Lagat ’01 became the fastest American ever to run two miles indoors. It was a feat of both speed and longevity, helped in large part by a fluid, seemingly effortless running form the New Yorker describes as “perfect.”

It was not always so. In fact, Lagat’s performance, as well as two Olympic medals and several other American records, may never have taken place without the long tutelage of James Li MS ’87 MS, ’93 PhD, who recruited … » More …

Dynamic Duo
Fall 2013

Dynamic duo

As seniors at Lewis and Clark High School, Eric Brandon ’12 and Nick Linton ’13 often skipped lunch to create plans for a zero carbon emission housing development.

“Our friends would come and ask if we were ready to go to lunch, and we’d say just 10 more minutes, or 15 more minutes” Brandon says, replaying the conversations. Linton interjects with his own reenactment, “We have to finish this last little façade.”

In 2008 Brandon and Linton entered their proposed sustainable housing development, called Green Ridge, in Washington State University’s inaugural Imagine Tomorrow competition. The competition brings students together in interdisciplinary teams to address energy … » More …

From Holland Library to hacking history
Fall 2013

From Holland Library to hacking history

Of all the ways a college student can find trouble, at least Ralph Barclay started in the library.

It was 1960, and he was wandering through the engineering library, then on the third floor of Holland, when his eye was drawn to a freshly minted Bell Systems Technical Journal. Inside, amid some positively mind-numbing treatises, he found the article, “Signaling Systems for Control of Telephone Switching.”

Years later, this one article would be referred to as “the keys to the kingdom,” a plain-spoken description of how the phone system evolved and, unbeknownst to the authors, the means by which an 18-year-old electrical engineering student from … » More …

girl trying 3D4U
Spring 2013

Replays for all

The idea of having control of his view of a sporting event struck Sankar “Jay” Jayaram in 2009 while he was watching a Seahawks game on TV and wishing he was in the stands.

“I had never been to a Seahawks game and I wished I could put on a 3D headset and be in the stadium,” says the Washington State University mechanical engineering and computer science professor.

Fortunately Jayaram, an expert in virtual reality modeling, had been working for several years on an immersive 3D experience for use on exercise machines. His startup firm 3D-4U Solutions holds patents on the technology which creates 180- or … » More …