UToledo News » Engineering








State Awards UToledo $474,287 for Equipment to Train Students in Autonomous-Vehicle Technology

The state of Ohio awarded The University of Toledo a $474,287 grant to purchase new state-of-the-art equipment to train students in the areas of autonomous vehicle-sensing technologies, robotics and vision-based systems for automation.

The grant is part of $975,000 in funding in the region and $8 million across the state announced by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine last week through the Department of Higher Education’s Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills (RAPIDS) program for universities, community colleges and technical career centers to collaborate to enhance education and job preparedness in a variety of fields of strategic importance for the state’s employers.

One of the state’s nine regions, UToledo’s group — a consortium that includes three universities, six private and community colleges, and two career and technical centers — is focused on working together to share new equipment and curriculum in the field of robotics and autonomous vehicles.

“The RAPIDS program awards offer a unique opportunity for Ohio’s postsecondary educational institutions and employers to help address local workforce needs,” DeWine said. “Students are able to gain access to top-notch equipment that helps better prepare them for available jobs.”

“This investment focused on advanced manufacturing and cybersecurity in autonomous vehicles will significantly benefit students in our new graduate certificate program in vehicle mechatronics that we launched in collaboration with Dana Inc.,” Dr. Mike Toole, dean of the UToledo College of Engineering, said.

Equipment is shared among campuses, allowing more students to get a quality education more affordably.

“When businesses and our higher education institutions are asked to work together to develop strategic plans for using these funds, it provides students with more opportunities for success while strengthening the regional workforce and Ohio’s economy,” Randy Gardner, chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education, said.

The RAPIDS program was launched in 2014.

Distinguished University Professors Announced

Three Distinguished University Professors were named in honor of their exemplary career achievements in teaching, research, scholarship and professional service.

The newest faculty members with the honorary title, who were approved and recognized by the Board of Trustees Feb. 10, are:

• Eric Chaffee, professor of law in the College of Law;

• Dr. Mohammad Elahinia, professor and chair of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering in the College of Engineering; and

• Dr. Melinda Reichelt, professor of English in the College of Arts and Letters.

Three Distinguished University Professors were honored and approved by the UToledo Board of Trustees. They are, from left center, Dr. Mohammad Elahinia, Eric Chaffee and Dr. Melinda Reichelt. To Commemorate the moment, they were joined by, from left, President Sharon L. Gaber, UToledo Board of Trustees Chair Mary Ellen Pisanelli and Provost Karen Bjorkman.

“Being named a Distinguished University Professor is The University of Toledo’s highest permanent honor bestowed upon a faculty member,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “We are proud of these outstanding faculty members who contribute so much in the classroom and in their fields. The impact they have on our students is immense.”

Chaffee joined the University in 2013. He is a nationally recognized scholar of business law and has written extensively about securities regulation, compliance, and the essential nature of the corporate form. He has presented on these topics at prestigious schools, including Harvard University, the University of Chicago and the University of California at Berkeley, and has published in numerous top-tier journals.

He is the co-author of three books, including a forthcoming title published by Cambridge University Press, and he is a founder of the National Business Law Scholars Conference, the premier conference in the business law field. In addition, Chaffee has served as chair of multiple sections of the American Association of Law Schools — positions elected by his peers.

“The Distinguished University Professors that I have encountered during my time at UToledo have all been phenomenal people,” Chaffee said. “I am deeply honored to receive this award. I am very grateful to all of those individuals who have supported me and challenged me to be more during my career, especially my colleagues at the College of Law.”

During his time at the College of Law, Chaffee has received four teaching awards thanks to votes from law students. He also has written and spoken extensively about the importance of incorporating transactional skills into law school curricula.

Elahinia is a global leader in advance manufacturing of shape memory alloys with applications in energy, medical, and mobility applications. He brought his expertise in smart and active materials to UToledo in 2004. During his tenure at the University, he has received more than $13 million in sponsored research funding for 36 projects as principal investigator. Sponsors of his work include the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Ohio Board of Regents.

With his students, Elahinia has authored or co-authored three books, seven book chapters and more than 100 journal articles. These publications have been cited more than 4,700 times. He and his students have presented nearly 280 conference papers. Elahinia has 19 invention disclosures.

“The scholarly success of my group is due to the dedication of my students and research scholars, eight of whom have become professors in other universities around the country,” Elahinia said. “I am honored and humbled by the recognition. Over the years, I have been fortunate to work with a very talented group of students and colleagues inside and outside of the University who have been very supportive. This recognition belongs to them all.”

A strong mentor, Elahinia has supervised nearly 20 visiting scholars and postdoctoral researchers. He received the University’s Faculty Research and Scholarship Award in 2017 and the Outstanding Teacher Award in 2019.

Reichelt became a faculty member in the Department of English Language and Literature in 1997. She teaches linguistics and English as a second language writing. Additionally, Reichelt directs the University’s English as a Second Language Writing Program.

Her research focuses on the role of English and English-language writing instruction around the world, including in Germany, Turkey, Poland, Spain, Cuba and the United States. She co-edited two books, “Foreign Language Writing” and “L2 Writing Beyond English.” Reichelt also has published in various edited collections and prestigious journals, including Composition Studies, Modern Language Journal, World Englishes, Foreign Language Annals, and the Journal of Second Language Writing.

“I am pleased to receive this honor and am grateful to my family, colleagues and students,” Reichelt said.

She has presented her work at conferences in China, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Germany, Cuba, Ukraine and the United States. Her international reputation has led to delivering keynote addresses at several global conferences. Reichelt has received two Fulbright Scholar awards, and she serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Second Language Writing.

UToledo to Celebrate Engineers Week

More than 800 local school students will visit The University of Toledo College of Engineering for Engineers Week.

Founded in 1951, Engineers Week will be celebrated Feb. 16-22 across the country and is dedicated to increasing understanding and interest in engineering and technology careers.

This year’s theme is “Be a Pioneer of Progress.”

“I am confident that Toledo’s celebration of Engineers Week is one of the best in the nation, and I am proud to have the College of Engineering play a big role,” Dr. Mike Toole, dean of the UToledo College of Engineering, said. “Almost 250 high school students will join us as an Engineer for a Day, working on hands-on activities to help them learn about the engineering disciplines. And I am proud of our annual award-winning Introduce a Girl to Engineering program, which has grown every year.”

Area high school students will come to campus around 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, for Engineer for a Day.

Students will learn about different careers during a tour of UToledo’s engineering facilities and engage in hands-on activities with University students. After lunch, the high school students will shadow a professional engineer in the community.

The UToledo College of Engineering also will host its third annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. More than 600 seventh- and eighth-graders from 16 school districts will visit the University Thursday, Feb. 20, from 9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.

During the day, the girls will tour UToledo’s engineering facilities and work with engineering students and members from more than a dozen local companies on a variety of activities, including robotics building and testing; traffic design experiments; Lego and balloon cars; rocket building and testing; pipeline design; chemical reactions; highway design; and virtual reality construction programs.

“This event has been built to inspire the next generation of women to pursue careers in STEM fields by working with our UToledo, community and corporate partners to showcase the many ways engineers impact our daily lives,” said Bryan Bosch, manager of diversity, inclusion and community engagement initiatives in the UToledo College of Engineering. “We’re excited to have such a large group on campus this year from so many of our area school districts.”

For more information on UToledo’s events for Engineer Week, contact Bosch at bryan.bosch@utoledo.edu.

Trustees Approve Housing, Meal Plan Rates

The University of Toledo continued its practice of making room and board decisions ahead of the annual budgeting process to provide prospective and current students more time to make decisions about their plans for the upcoming school year.

The housing and meal plan rates approved during Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting are effective for the fall 2020 semester.

Trustees approved a 3.1% increase in meal plans to cover increasing costs of operations equal to the consumer price index. The increase is between $25 to $66 per semester depending on the meal plan.

The University also is working closely with Student Government to update meal plan options, which students have requested. The four meal plan options for the 2020-21 academic year will include one all-you-care-to-eat plan and the other three plans will provide more flexible options for using meal swipes and dining dollars throughout the week.

On-campus student housing will increase an average of 2.95%, depending on the residence hall and type of room selected by the student. For example, a standard double room will increase between $120 to $290 per semester depending on which residence hall it is located.

The new room and board fees are for students who are not part of an existing Toledo Tuition Guarantee, for which room and board rates are guaranteed for four years as part of the program. The rates apply to continuing students and those entering the third cohort of the Toledo Guarantee.

Trustees also approved three faculty members being named Distinguished University Professors and sabbatical leaves for 23 faculty members. The newest Distinguished University Professors recognized for their exemplary teaching, research, scholarship and professional service are Eric Chaffee of the College of Law, Dr. Mohammad Elahinia of the College of Engineering and Dr. Melinda Reichelt of the College of Arts and Letters.

Forum to Spotlight Service Learning Opportunities in Classroom, Lab

“Creating and Supporting Community-Engaged Learning” will be discussed at the next Future of Higher Education Forum Friday, Jan. 31.

Dr. Todd Crail, associate lecturer in the Department of Environmental Sciences, and Dr. Mohamed Samir Hefzy, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the mechanical and industrial engineering graduate programs, will be the speakers at the event, which will take place from 10:30 a.m. to noon in Carlson Library Room 1005.

The two will discuss community-engaged learning — the practice of connecting students and faculty members with activities that address community-identified needs in a mutually beneficial partnership. “This partnership deepens students’ academic and civic learning,” Crail said.

“We will talk about how to get a course designated as service learning,” Hefzy said.

An ecologist and naturalist, Crail has fostered undergraduate student engagement through field experiences both on campus and with the local conservation community to solve environmental issues. His project-based learning through informal classroom environments is designed to maximize students’ experiences.

Since joining the University in 1987, Hefzy has supervised more than 130 undergraduate senior design projects as part of his community engagement and service learning.

The Future of Higher Education Forums are sponsored by the Office of the Provost.

Forums are held monthly throughout the academic year. Visit the Office of the Provost website to see upcoming topics, as well as to view past forums.

For more information, contact Dr. Amy Thompson, vice provost for faculty affairs and professor of public health, at amy.thompson4@utoledo.edu.

UToledo Receives State Grant for Choose Ohio First Scholarships

The Ohio Department of Higher Education awarded The University of Toledo a five-year, $787,449 grant through the Choose Ohio First program to provide scholarships to students pursuing computer science and related fields.

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner recently announced more than $20 million for 35 colleges and universities across the state to boost Ohio’s efforts to strengthen the state’s workforce in technology-related fields such as coding and cybersecurity while supporting an estimated 1,400 Ohio students.

“Careers in computer science and cybersecurity are critically important in today’s technology landscape,” UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber said. “This state grant will enhance our own investments to provide additional opportunities for students to receive advanced training in this area, such as our new master’s program in cybersecurity and a cybersecurity graduate certificate program.”

“The Choose Ohio First program is one of our state’s best tools to increase the number of students preparing to work in STEM-related fields,” Husted said. “In today’s technology-infused economy, every industry and business has important tech-focused jobs, and training Ohioans for careers in those positions is key to growing our economy.”

The Choose Ohio First Scholarship Program began in 2008 as a way to increase the number of Ohio students enrolling in and successfully completing science, technology, engineering, math and medicine programs at Ohio’s public and independent colleges and universities.

“The ongoing investment in the Choose Ohio First program demonstrates the commitment of Governor DeWine, Lieutenant Governor Husted, and the General Assembly to build a talent pipeline in Ohio to the leading technology occupations,” Gardner said. “This new focused scholarship will further strengthen the Choose Ohio First program and put more students on a path to success.”

Fellows Named for MAC Leadership Program

Four UToledo faculty members have been selected to participate in the third year of the Mid-American Conference Academic Leadership Development Program.

The program was created to identify, develop, prepare and advance faculty as leaders in the colleges and universities that are members of the Mid-American Conference. Fellows participating in the program have the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and experience by working closely with select administrators from other colleges and universities in the MAC.

“We are happy The University of Toledo participates in this worthwhile program that helps faculty members reach their leadership potential,” Dr. Amy Thompson, vice provost for faculty affairs and professor of public health, said.

Fellows for the 2019-20 academic year are:

• Dr. Jonathan Bossenbroek, professor of environmental sciences and director of the Office of Competitive Fellowships and Undergraduate Research;

• Dr. Maria Coleman, professor and chair of chemical engineering and associate director of the Polymer Institute;

• Dr. Scott Molitor, professor of bioengineering and senior associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Engineering; and

• Dr. Rebecca Schneider, professor of science and teacher education, and associate dean of graduate studies in the Judith Herb College of Education.

All tenured faculty with experience in administrative leadership and service are eligible to apply for the MAC Academic Leadership Development Program. Candidates submitted a letter of support from their dean, as well as an application and curriculum vitae for consideration.

“Our Fellows will work alongside UToledo leaders to learn from their experience,” Thompson said. “They also will benefit from working with administrators and peers from other MAC institutions.”

All MAC Academic Leadership Development Program Fellows will attend one three-day workshop each semester. Topics to be addressed include budgeting, conflict resolution, accreditation and accountability.

“This program allows our Fellows a chance to prepare for leadership positions while experiencing the challenges and rewards of institutional service,” Thompson said. “This is a great opportunity to advance leadership for our UToledo faculty members.”

Read more about the MAC Academic Leadership Development Program on the Office of the Provost website.

UToledo to Spotlight Sustainable Energy Program That Repurposes Nuclear Reactors for Hydrogen Production

The University of Toledo College of Engineering is hosting a workshop to showcase a national program designed to use the country’s commercial nuclear reactors to produce hydrogen and help the transportation, chemical and steel industries close the carbon cycle.

The event, focused on the sustainable energy program, will start at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, in the Nitschke Hall Room 1027, and bring together representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, scientists from U.S. national laboratories, UToledo faculty, representatives from Davis-Besse nuclear power plant, and industry leaders.

As part of the national project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Idaho National Laboratory is working with the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station on a pilot program to install an electrolysis system to produce hydrogen.

“The University of Toledo is proud to host a workshop to explore opportunities in repurposing light water nuclear reactors for hydrogen production through a hybrid systems design,” said Dr. Mike Toole, dean of the UToledo College of Engineering.

“The project is a win for regional industries and clean energy,” Dr. Connie Schall, UToledo associate vice president for research, said. “Nuclear electricity is a low carbon emission power source. The nuclear energy hub model opens many opportunities for regional industries, not only for green hydrogen, but also for other electrochemically driven processes.”

This workshop will explore the current state-of-the-art opportunities for industry, government and academic collaboration, identify current research-and-development gaps, and provide an overview of the U.S. Department of Energy programs that are leading the effort to build a hydrogen economy and innovative power grid solutions.

The agenda and registration information can be found at the workshop website.

The workshop comes three months after the U.S. Department of Energy selected UToledo to host National Lab Day, which connected students and researchers with preeminent scientists from world-class facilities across the country to explore opportunities for partnerships.

Engineering Students Create Device to Help Actor With Muscular Dystrophy

A professional Chicago actor’s ability to bring characters to life on stage is stronger thanks to a team of engineering students at The University of Toledo.

As their senior design project, the engineering team of Cassandra Brown, Brandon Payeff, Adam Pusateri and Nicholas Wryst created a way for Joel Rodriguez, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, to more expressively conduct his arms by leveraging the full set of physical motion he possesses.

Joel Rodriguez performed on stage earlier this year at the Greenhouse Theater Center in Chicago during a performance of “All Quiet on the Western Front.” A team of UToledo engineering students designed a way for the actor, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, to be more expressive on stage.

“Our medical device was designed for the stage, but also to make Joel’s everyday life a lot easier when it comes to assisting his arm movement,” said Payeff, who is graduating this month with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and starting a full-time job at Marathon Petroleum Corp. in Findlay, Ohio. “It’s low-key, not bulky or distracting.”

“Our biggest hurdle was communication,” Pusateri said. “Since Joel is in Chicago, we learned about his abilities and troubleshot our prototype through Skype and FaceTime. We shipped him our device to test it.”

UToledo engineering students, from left, Cassandra Brown, Brandon Payeff, Adam Pusateri and Nicholas Wryst worked on the device to help actor Joel Rodriguez.

Muscular dystrophy is a genetic disease that causes progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass over time.

“Joel has no shoulder strength, so we came up with something designed to fit on his existing wheelchair that improves his range of motion,” said Wryst, who is graduating this month with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and starting his career at Cook Medical in Bloomington, Ind.

“You rest your elbow and forearm on the device, and then can swivel it left and right, extend it to reach for something, and bring it back.”

It would cost about $65 to duplicate the device. The main mechanism consists of four parts created with a 3D printer and a layer of thermoplastic to give grip and protection from the bolts. It’s mounted to a slider track, using two pulleys to support the bungee cables.

“Products like this are what allow people with disabilities to continue to lead independent lives,” Rodriguez said. “As someone who is involved in the performing arts and acting, being able to send not only your energy vocally but physically to the back of the house is important. And because I have limited range of mobility, a product like this ideally will help me be able to bring that expressiveness to the characters that I get to portray on stage.”

Dr. Matt Foss, assistant professor in the UToledo Department of Theatre and Film, connected the students with Rodriguez, who performed in Foss’ adaptation of “All Quiet on the Western Front” in Chicago.

“They worked with Joel in an ethical and empathetic manner with incredible results,” Foss said. “It truly speaks to the commitment to innovation that UToledo has in all areas — the arts and the sciences.”

The engineering team is presenting the prototype at the Kennedy Center American College Theater festival in January.

“There’s still more to be done to improve our device,” said Brown, who graduates this month and will start a full-time job at GE Appliances in Louisville, Ky. “It’s designed to replace an existing arm rest on a wheelchair. Mounting is something we’re still working on. Next semester, another group of engineering students will take over the project.”

Families Set to Celebrate Commencement Dec. 14

More than 2,000 students at The University of Toledo will graduate at commencement ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 14, in Savage Arena.

The University is holding two ceremonies to include both undergraduate and graduate students from each of the colleges.

A total of 2,070 degrees will be awarded: 1,474 bachelor’s degrees, 426 master’s degrees, 104 doctoral degrees, 41 associate’s degrees, 15 education specialist degrees and 10 graduate certificates.

The 9 a.m. ceremony will recognize all Ph.D. candidates and graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters; Engineering; Judith Herb College of Education; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The 1 p.m. ceremony will recognize undergraduate and graduate students receiving degrees from the colleges of Business and Innovation; Health and Human Services; Nursing; University College; and Medicine and Life Sciences.

Commencement is always a time to celebrate with family. Their support is critical to achieving success. For several students walking across the stage this year, family was literally at their side for the journey.

Lori and Jordan Boyer in 2001 and 2019

At 48 years old, Lori Boyer is set to take the stage and grasp her diploma on the same day as her son, Jordan.

Lori, a preschool teacher, started taking classes at UToledo in 1990, but stopped to raise her three children.

After returning in January to cross the finish line, the UToledo employee at the Early Learning Center is graduating from University College with a bachelor’s degree in an individualized program of early childhood education and educational leadership. Her son is graduating from the College of Engineering with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering technology.

“I am proud to share this special moment with my oldest son,” Boyer said. “It’s important to me to prove to all of my children that you can accomplish anything no matter what point you are in life. I accomplished something I set out to do a long time ago, and it has the potential to take me in different directions in my career.”

Fall commencement also is a family affair for a brother-and-sister duo who worked side by side as undergraduates in the same exercise biology research lab.

Nicole and Dylan Sarieh

Dylan and Nicole Sarieh, two-thirds of a set of fraternal triplets, both chose to study exercise science as pre-med students in the College of Health and Human Services, while their brother studies business at UToledo.

Together, Dylan and Nicole researched the molecular regulation of skeletal muscle growth under the guidance of Dr. Thomas McLoughlin, associate professor in the School of Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, in order to help clinicians develop ways to help patients grow stronger after suffering from muscle loss.

“The opportunity to do real, meaningful, hands-on work in the lab definitely built our confidence and opened our eyes to what is important,” Dylan said about his undergraduate research experience. “My sister and I both plan to next go to medical school. She wants to be a dermatologist, and I want to be a general physician.”

“Whether at home, in the classroom or in the lab, I always had someone I could lean on who was tackling the same challenges,” Nicole said. “Putting our two brains together — even during car rides — made a big difference in our success.”

For some graduates, they found love and are starting their own family.

McKenna Wirebaugh completed a co-op at the BP Whiting Refinery in Whiting, Ind. This photo shows Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.

McKenna Wirebaugh, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, met her soon-to-be husband at UToledo. Both she and Travis Mang, her fiancé, will receive degrees Saturday.

Turns out, planning their upcoming wedding is the only item left on the to-do list. Wirebaugh secured a full-time job as a process engineer at BP’s Cherry Point Refinery in Blaine, Wash., located about 40 minutes south of Vancouver. She is scheduled to start her new job in March, about a month after her honeymoon.

“I chose to go to UToledo because of the mandatory co-op program in engineering,” Wirebaugh said. “It guaranteed I would have a paycheck while in school and build my resumé. I’m grateful for my decision because it ended up launching my career.”

Wirebaugh completed four co-op rotations with BP while at UToledo. She also helped build a water purification unit that was sent to Ecuador through the nonprofit organization Clean Water for the World.

Her favorite experience as a student in the Jesup Scott Honors College was a class focusing on creativity. For a group project on the dangers of cell-phone use, they brought in a PlayStation 2 system and challenged students to text and drive on Mario Kart without crashing.

“My professors have truly cared about me inside and outside of my academic career,” Wirebaugh said. “I don’t see the friendships I’ve made here ending anytime soon.”

In the event of inclement weather, the approximately two-hour commencement ceremonies will be moved to Sunday, Dec. 15.

For those unable to attend, the ceremonies will stream live at video.utoledo.edu.

For more information, go to the UToledo commencement website.