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Published by Duke Pratt School of Engineering, 2018-04-25 16:41:34

DukEngineer 2018

Informative, student-written and continuously published since the 1940s. Read this issue's stories on our website at

Students Meet Real Clients in the Design Pod
Using 3D Printers to Make Prosthetics

dukengA Blueprint for World Challenges
Edmund T. Pratt Jr. School of Engineering at Duke University | 2018

Student-written since 1940


Scenes from the new
Design Pod where first-year
students work on real
projects for local clients
(Feature on page 20)

dukengineerEdmundT.Pratt Jr.School of Engineering at Duke University | 2018

Editor-in-Chief Letters
Ashish Vankara
2 Letter from the Dean
Associate Editors 3 Meet the Editors
Mary Gooneratne 4 Letter from the ESG President
5 Letter from the EGSC President
Emilia Grzesiak
Sam Lester Faculty Focus
Sabrina Qi
Will Schmidt 6 Profile: The Face of a Department
Petek Sener 10 Profile: Predicting Weather with Big Data
14 Profile: Risky Business
Consulting Editors 18 Profile: Advancing Medicine through Stem Cell Research
Minnie Glymph
Ken Kingery Education by Design

Designer 20 Duke Engineering Design Class and Pod
Lacey Chylack 24 A New Emphasis on Design for Biomedical Engineers
27 Building Cross-Cultural Bonds through HealthcareTechnology

Entrepreneurial Engineers

30 Mind the Gap: Connecting Clinicians and Engineers at Duke
32 The Next Big Thing: A Conversation with Steve McClelland and Bill Walker

Beyond the E-Quad

34 Duke eNable: Printing “Prosthetics”
37 Duke’s New Reality
40 Engineering at Beaufort
44 Duke Blueprint Pioneers the Ideathon

Alumni and Giving

46 Classnotes
52 Honor Roll

DukEngineer photographer Ignacio
Texeira Nunez DeVotto goes
kayaking with a group of Master of
Engineering students.


Dear friends, ABOVE, LEFT: Dean
Bellamkonda; LEFT:
Over the course of the past year, the students, exterior view of the
faculty and staff at Duke Engineering have new Duke Engineering
truly demonstrated the “outrageously building opening in late
ambitious” Duke spirit. Coined by Duke President 2020. Art by Michael
Terry Sanford in 1984, that phrase embodies the McCann.
vision to which we aspire every day – to look
beyond the usual to the possible, to take on big of course, we must do all we can to open opportu-
challenges in bold ways, to apply knowledge in nities to a diverse and talented set of students with
service to society with passion and purpose. potential to lead the way.
This is why I am so excited about our newly
In this edition of the student-written DukEngineer announced A. James Clark Scholars Program,
Magazine, you will learn more about where those supported by a $15 million gift from the A. James
ambitions—plus a lot of hard work—are taking and Alice B. Clark Foundation. By providing fund-
us. For example, we’ve begun the transformation ing and enrichment opportunities to promising
of our undergraduate experience, re-envisioning students with significant financial need, the Clark
engineering education to “Inspire Engineers” and Scholars program will expand access to Duke’s na-
develop confident creators through five pillars: tionally recognized engineering education and cre-
real-world design, data sciences, computational ate a new generation of entrepreneurial engineering
thinking, mentored research, and entrepreneurial leaders. Our first cohort of 10 Clark Scholars will
confidence. While traditional curricula often don’t start in fall 2018.
get around to applied engineering until under-
graduates’ final years, Duke students will have the
opportunity to work in teams on real projects with
real clients from the start.

Engineering faculty Ann Saterbak and Sophia We are also expanding opportunities for our
Santillan have already piloted our new first-year faculty and students through construction of a
design course to rave reviews from its inaugural new 150,000-square-foot, $115 million build-
students (page 20), while Stacy Tantum of ECE ing for Duke Engineering. This new facility will
and Paul Bendich of the math department have position our school to achieve its ambitious vision
launched our new data science course aimed at for enhancing the student experience as well as
leveraging statistical analysis to glean useful insights advancing the sciences through interdisciplinary
from complex, real-world datasets. We’ve brought collaborations focused on health, computing and
in some of our most successful alumni to lead the environment. With two floors focused on active
new programs to instill entrepreneurial confi- student learning, specialized educational centers
dence (page 30). And with nearly 70 percent of focused on Innovation & Entrepreneurship as well
our undergraduates participating in independent as Energy, Engineering & Environment, and a
research, the pages of this magazine are filled with Learning Commons dedicated to nurturing teach-
examples of their work, from designing 3-D print- ing excellence, there is no doubt the new space will
ed prosthetics for people both home and abroad be transformative.
(page 32) to launching a major environmentally-fo-
cused conference (page 44). As you read through this magazine and learn about
The ambition and dedication of our students never the incredible achievements being made on campus
fails to amaze me, and I look forward to seeing and beyond every day, I think you’ll agree with
them become leaders who understand how to me that It is truly an exciting time to be a Duke
develop and deploy solutions to the many complex Engineer.
challenges facing us. To succeed in these endeavors,
Prof. Ravi V. Bellamkonda
Vinik Dean of the Pratt School of Engineering

2 2018 dukengineer


Mary Gooneratne fantastic experience, and Sam knows he could

is a freshman not have done it without his family whom he has

studying ECE/CS had the pleasure of living and laughing with all

from Los Angeles, these years.

California. She is

interested in the in- Sabrina Qi is a

tersection between sophomore bio-

computer science medical engineering

and politics and hopes to pursue a career in major and global

government cybersecurity. On campus, Mary is health minor from

also involved with the Baldwin Scholars program, Centerport, New

Duke Technology Scholars program, Society of York. She is interest-

Women Engineers and Outing club. In her free ed in the interaction

time, she loves to work out, go to the beach, between engineering and medicine and its

read and practice typography. potential influences around the globe. This is

her first year working with DukEngineer, and she

Emilia Grzesiak is has enjoyed editing and writing for the magazine.

a sophomore from On campus, she dances with Devils en Pointe,

the Chicagoland volunteers with Dance Expressions, and is

area. She is ma- involved in clubs like eNable and Engineering

Ashish Vankara is a junior joring in BME and World Health.
minoring in chem-

biomedical engineering major who istry. On campus, Will Schmidt is a

also hopes to study medicine. she is involved with freshman studying

He was born in India and raised Bass Connections and the Society for Women mechanical engi-

in Columbus, Ohio as an OSU Engineers. In her free time, she enjoys running, neering from Hilton

Buckeyes fan. In his free time he rock climbing and Skyping her Polish relatives. Head, South Caroli-

enjoys lifting, reading and playing She hopes to somehow combine her love for na. He is interested

basketball. On campus, he is STEM and exercise in her future work. in applications of

involved with Duke Diya, Happy sustainability to

Kids Healthy Kids, the Sigma Chi Sam Lester is a engineering design and manufacturing process-

fraternity, the Duke Center for sophomore majoring es. In his free time, he enjoys reading, spending

Genomics and Computational in mechanical time outdoors and watching movies.

Biology, and the Duke peer engineering from

tutoring program. He has been Harper, Texas. He is Petek Sener is a

involved with DukEngineer since a trumpet player in senior majoring in

his freshman year, and is grateful the Duke University biomedical engi-

for all the opportunities that it has Marching Band and neering with a focus

afforded him. in Hoof’n’Horn, a theatrical performance student on tissue engineer-

group. Sam volunteers with Duke eNable to ing and minoring

design 3-D-printable prostheses for people in in neuroscience.

need and staffs the virtual reality labs around She was born and

campus. In his leftover time, he enjoys making raised in Istanbul, Turkey. In her free time she

things at the Co-Lab and having juicy philosoph- enjoys working out, traveling and trying different

ical conversations. Serving as a writer and as cuisines.

dukengineeran editor for DukEngineer Magazine has been a
2018 dukengineer 3


As an organization dedicated to supporting and advocating for
the Pratt undergraduate student body, the Engineering Stu-
dent Government has consistently been a voice and source of
fun for E-Quad inhabitants. Our executive board of 11 highly
motivated and dedicated members worked hard this year to
create some phenomenal programs for all of Pratt.
Most recently, the first-ever engineering pre-orientation pro-
gram was approved by the university. Next summer, Project
Tracy Lu EDGE (Engineering and Design for Growth and Entrepreneurship)

will become a reality. The week-long Pre-O will guide eager freshmen
into the world of creative and practical design. Throughout this week
of innovation, first-year students will work on teams and participate in
design thinking, rapid prototyping and problem solving. Upperclassmen
staff will lead students through the principles of entrepreneurship, engi-
neering and social innovation to kickstart students’ involvement at Duke.
Students will have the opportunity to interact with Durham companies,
explore campus makerspaces and dive into hands-on innovation.
Speaking of innovation, the Baquerizo Innovation Grant (BIG) was
initiated this year. The application competition came into full swing
to challenge undergraduate students to pursue ambitious applications
of technology. This grant of up to $20,000 focuses on undergraduate
entrepreneurship and aims to encourage Pratt’s bold ideas that will have
positive, transformative impacts on millions of lives.
March saw a completely sold out E-Ball at Hope Valley Country
Club. Everyone from
freshmen to professors
Students will have the opportunity enjoyed the delicious
three-course meal and
to interact with Durham companies, an evening of socializ-
explore campus makerspaces and ing, dancing, relaxation

dive into hands-on innovation. and taking a break
from problem sets. The
theme was “Murder
Mystery,” and our venue was decked out with themed decorations, games
and a mystery clue hunt.
We also continued the tradition of weekly E-Socials every Friday
afternoon with free food, beer, games and networking. Due to the hard
work of the Industry Relations Chair Jonathan Gans and Student Group
Liaison Brian Chan, we have had a wide variety of E-Social sponsors this
year, from Duke’s Motorsports Club to Microsoft.
The annual traditions of E-Oktoberfest and E-Picnic also continued
with record turnout for both events. These well-loved events and signa-
ture, humorous Pratt t-shirts continue to be time-honored classics that
students look forward to after a long week of lab reports and studying.
Stay tuned for more great things from ESG in the upcoming years.
We hope to continue to improve student life and aid the development of
the next generation of Duke Engineers.

Tracy Lu
Engineering Student Government Executive President

4 2018 dukengineer


Trisha Dupnock S ome of Pratt’s greatest strengths include its students’
dedication and drive to continually enhance the graduate
“...the most student experience and to foster an inclusive community
rewarding atmosphere. It’s been a privilege to engage in such diverse
aspects of collaborations across Duke’s campus to organize fruitful
organizing events aligned with these strengths.
these events We started the New Year with our Envisioning the
are when we Invisible Photo Contest. For the first time, we invited the
can provide entire Duke community to participate and received over
credit toward 35 submissions from across our campus. Our contest reception was a
a degree unifying event and a beautiful display of photography and research;
requirement inclusive of visiting prospective students as well. We were pleased
and achieve that the contest winners hailed from different schools and that our
community People’s Choice Award recipient was a Pratt staff member. Partnering
involvement.” with Duke INSPIRE, we surprised our winners with a spot in a local
gallery as part of the “Art of a Scientist” event.
Another EGSC tradition is our weekly Pratt & Chat socials.
By working with the of Office of Sustainability, this event recently
achieved Green Event Certification, which was as simple as providing
recycling bins for cans and bottles. We’ve also worked to incorporate
cornhole tournaments, room escapes and picnics to encourage inter-
disciplinary mingling.
From an academic and professional perspective, we coordinated two
professional headshot events with the Professional Masters Program
(PMP), hosted a Technology Transfer seminar with the Office of
Licensing and Ventures to offer seminar credit for PMP students, and
launched a five-part Interdepartmental Seminar Series to showcase
student research across Pratt. We also have a competitive, RCR-
approved “Broader Impacts” seminar with the Office of Diversity and
Inclusion and a Graduate Student Panel, co-hosted with the ESG for
Duke undergraduates interested in pursuing higher education on our
upcoming agenda. For me, the most rewarding aspects of organizing
these events are when we can provide credit toward a degree require-
ment and achieve community involvement.
Looking to the future, we are very excited to begin collaborations
with the School of Medicine. As some medical students have or will
seek dual appointment within Pratt, it only seems logical to begin a
long-term partnership. For the immediate future, we have a couple of
social events planned so we may become acquainted and familiar with
our neighbors across Research Drive.
Trisha Dupnock
EGSC President

2018 dukengineer 5



Krishnendu Chakrabarty, Krishnendu Chakrabarty is the newest chair of
the William H. Younger Duke’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Distinguished Professor
of Engineering, professor Krishnendu Chakrabarty, the William H. Younger Distinguished Professor of
of computer science, Engineering and professor of computer science, has been at Duke since
and new chair of 1998. He has performed groundbreaking research in integrated circuit
the Department of testing and digital microfluidics, among many other areas in electrical and com-
Electrical and Computer puter engineering, receiving a multitude of honors and awards. Recently, he was
Engineering appointed as the chair for Duke’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engi-
neering (ECE).
6 2018 dukengineer
Chakrabarty’s office is a modernistic, graduate school at the University of Michi-
minimalist space outfitted with a large desk- gan, and after a brief appointment at Boston
top computer, a few slanted shelves display- University, he became a professor at Duke
ing various engineering textbooks and a small in 1998. Now, Chakrabarty has a grand vi-
table for visitors. So what journey could have sion for Duke’s Department of Electrical and
led him to this office? As a young boy in In- Computer Engineering.
dia, Chakrabarty aspired to attend one of
the five original prestigious Indian Institutes “Primarily, I would like ECE to be well-
of Technology. After years of hard work, he known outside [of Duke],” said Chakrabarty.
gained admission to the Indian Institute of “We have done really well with the fac-
Technology at Kharagpur and proceeded to ulty who have come in the last 10 years.”
discover the field of electrical and comput- Chakrabarty continues by saying he wants
er engineering just as the internet revolution to ensure that the department is associated
was occurring. with excellence around the world and plans
to implement this in many ways.
The revolution brought along never-be-
fore-seen innovations such as the World One of his main points is that in today’s
Wide Web in parallel with stunning hard- world, research is becoming increasingly col-
ware advancements in microprocessors. “I laborative between many fields, and therefore
was hooked, a lot of it because of the times,” the department must branch out and form
he said. interdisciplinary ties within and outside
of Duke. He is quick to point out that the
With new technologies only spurring modern direction of research fosters collab-
him onward in his passion for computer sci- oration even with fields formerly considered
ence and engineering, Chakrabarty attended to be totally unrelated to electrical engineer-

Chakrabarty plans to form research teams that weave Krishnendu Chakrabarty
across different specialties within the department. gives a presentation
at the 3rd Pan-
ing, like the relationship between sociology department can assist in solving the Na- Hellenic Conference
and the development of social networking. tional Academy of Engineering’s 14 “Grand on Electronics and
Challenges for Engineering,” he immediate- Telecommunications.
To further this goal, Chakrabarty plans ly grabbed his laptop and proceeded to ex-
to form research teams that weave across dif- plain how ECE can help solve the problems 2018 dukengineer 7
ferent specialties within the department. He posed, which include such vast tasks as “se-
offers practical examples of current research curing cyberspace,” “engineering the tools of
into the Internet of Things, robotics and scientific discovery,” and “advancing person-
medical devices such as pacemakers. In all al learning.” Chakrabarty is instantly able to
aspects, Chakrabarty seems the perfect rep- pinpoint how the workings of ECE pertain
resentative of Duke ECE, bringing together to solving issues in the real world.
a passion for the field with the desire to con-
tinually improve the department that he is To Chakrabarty, being the department
now in charge of. chair means advocating for the faculty, in-
cluding their research and advancement
Exemplifying this, when asked how the


2017 ECE Student within the university, as well as strength- demonstrates an encyclopedic knowledge
Showcase ening the relevance of the department to of his departmental colleagues’ research, an
the structure of the Pratt School of Engi- obvious commitment to undergraduate ed-
8 2018 dukengineer neering, Duke University and the world in ucation and a willingness to teach.
general. He also states that an important
priority of his new role is “providing the Chakrabarty has developed a strong
best training to all students” by continually bond with Duke. He cites Duke’s “culture
improving the curriculum that students are of excellence” and characteristic academic
presented with. freedom as major assets to the Duke experi-
ence, saying, “The pathway that you choose
Lastly, Chakrabarty says that he is the is your own, but Duke expects you to be the
external face of ECE, acknowledging his best in what you do.” He also acknowledg-
position as another way for him to lead by es the undergraduates that he encounters
example. He knows that a large portion of throughout Duke as having an ability to
this new task is to be somebody that the “keep him and his mind young.”
students of the department, the engineering
school and the entire university can all look Chakrabarty also enjoys Duke’s ability to
up to. All indications from the renowned cultivate the most out of new faculty mem-
professor say that Chakrabarty will be able bers, saying that the intensive manner in
to accomplish these things and more, as he which new engineering professors are select-
ed breeds these new faculty members to be

“At Duke Krishnendu Chakrabarty with
I have colleagues Blake Wilson and
Ashutosh Chilkoti at a cele-
learned that bration of Wilson’s election
you have to to the National Academy of
take risks.
The payoff

is much

immediately successful. He notes that since worldwide, and the ability to “multiplex”—
he has been here, the Pratt School of Engi- that is, to pursue many avenues of learning
neering has only grown, doubling in num- and experience, rather than remaining “uni-
ber of faculty. It is clear to everyone around dimensional.”
him that he wishes to be an agent of this
expansion in his new role as the department As a final note, Chakrabarty advises, “At
chair. Duke I have learned that you have to take
risks. The payoff is much higher.” Now it
When asked as to the advice that he is Duke’s turn to witness the improvements
would give to current undergraduate stu- that Chakrabarty will inevitably implement
dents, Chakrabarty’s response was mani- from his well-deserved position at the head
fold. Citing his own personal experiences of Duke’s Department of Electrical and
during his undergraduate education, he ad- Computer Engineering. n
vised that students “learn for a long time”
rather than learn for exams and hone skills Ryan Piersma is a sophomore in the
in asking questions. He explained that this Pratt School of Engineering, double
is an essential skill for conducting research
and solving corporate issues alike. He also majoring in electrical engineering
emphasized the ability to work in teams, a and computer science.
rapidly emerging requirement for engineers

2018 dukengineer 9


Predicting Weather
with Big Data

Ana Barros talks about working with big data in environmental fields
before the term even existed and how her work has evolved over the years

W hile in pursuit of a PhD use neural networks and satellite microwave
in ocean engineering, Ana observations to estimate relative humidity
Barros, professor of civil distribution in the atmosphere all the way
and environmental engi- back in the ’90s.
neering, was applying for
a NASA fellowship when her advisor sug- The work, however, received little to no
gested an intriguing idea. The suggestion was recognition until the late 2000s. It wasn’t un-
that Barros could “try something on snow,” as til then that, at a NASA Senior Review meet-
satellite remote sensing capabilities were no- ing, a representative noted that the approach
toriously difficult to use in that field. increased the amount of useable data taken
from a new, previously unprofitable satellite
Later, her advisor suggested she do anoth- from under 20 to over 90 percent.
er study on mountains and precipitation in
the terrain before leaving Barros’s side for a With early achievements like these, Barros
sabbatical in Australia. After six months, her has been a key player in weather prediction
advisor came back to the United States to using remote sensors before it even became
find Barros had a whole model planned out; an area of expertise. “I really hoped to get the
Barros had essentially started “the whole rest quality of weather prediction to improve, to
of (her) life.” become reliable in a way that we can explain
the physics and get the right results for the
“As long as I’m learning, I’m happy,” Bar- right reasons,” said Barros.
ros noted, reflecting on the series of unex-
pected events that led her into her current Barros’s current research focuses on the fun-
field of research. damentals of hydrometeorology and climate,
specifically precipitation. While we already
With consistent research funding provided have climate and weather prediction models,
by the partnership with NASA she formed Barros says, “We don’t actually know the fun-
in graduate school, Barros started working damental science to describe the key process-
on the remote sensing of precipitation in the es. How does the hint of haze in the horizon
“days before big data” and before data anal- evolve to pouring rain in a few minutes?”
ysis became a “hot topic.” For example, one
of her graduate students discovered a way to According to Barros, we have basic, con-
ceptual models of how we think weather and

10 2018 dukengineer

Ana Barros,
professor of civil
and environmental
engineering, stands
at a weather station
that her students
installed on top
of the Fitzpatrick

2018 dukengineer 11


A model of the climate processes would work on a large scale, group does “a little bit of everything.” They
MODIS data showing but when compared with the real world, the observe the weather processes in reality, use
the low-lying cloud model predictions are lacking, especially at remote sensors to collect data, model the
formations around/ the small scales important for decision-mak- processes, perform simulations and complete
over the mountain ing. “The true processes are highly nonlinear a lot of data analysis. All these facets of her re-
systems. The bodies of and work over a very wide range of scales, search make it easy for Barros—who believes
water are white, and some six orders of magnitude across,” says that the key to whether or not someone is
the mountain con- Barros. going to like research is “getting their hands
tours are black. High dirty”—to involve undergraduate as well as
concentrations of True predictability, like being able to graduate students in her research. One of
low-lying clouds (red) predict extreme events like hurricanes and Barros’s large field campaigns in the Great
formed both over droughts, is the understanding and applica- Smoky and Appalachian mountain systems
the mountain peaks tion of all steps involved, not a lone state- involved an extensive team of students who
and on the sides of ment of the outcome. It is therefore the gap gained valuable fieldwork experience by es-
the rivers over the between our current theories on weather and sentially climbing mountains to calibrate
summer. Significant the definite laws that Barros hopes to bridge and retrieve data from isolated sensing in-
concentrations can with her research now and in the future. struments.
also be seen in the
spring (in yellow). To accomplish her goal, Barros’s research

12 2018 dukengineer

It’s her research in the mountains that Bar- jority of summer, a Smoky mountain system
ros implied was her most interesting work. To in the midst of the Tennessee Valley Author-
make accurate models of weather in mountain ity dams had high concentrations of low-ly-
ranges, her research team first needed accurate ing clouds form both above its peaks and also,
data. When her group started taking precipita- surprisingly, over the regions on the sides of
tion measurements, they measured rainfall the the dammed rivers. Wind over the rivers had
way folks usually do—with a rain gauge. But caused the water particles to shift to the sides,
that proved inadequate. a process called the lake breeze effect.
Many times the record showed that no rain- “It’s not that we didn’t know this could
fall was occurring, and the team thought this happen,” Barros notes, “we just didn’t know
was accurate until they purchased disdrome- the scale and persistence of these impacts on
ters, which measure drop size distribution. regional climate.” When the TVA dams were
The disdrometers showed that there were, in built, no one truly cared about how they
fact, a very large number of drops falling— would affect the climate long-term, and it was
drops that were not
being measured by the
rain gauges. “We don’t actually know the fundamental science to

The group then ac- describe the key processes. How does the hint of haze
quired another type of
radar, one that works in the horizon evolve to pouring rain in a few minutes?”

by measuring the ra-
dar backscatter signal to find the vertical dis- before the time that environmental impact
tribution of precipitation in the atmosphere, assessment studies were required. In the later
which is how weather stations come up with parts of the 20th century, however, people fi-
their multicolored precipitation forecasts. nally began to consider climate change.
With this data, Barros inferred that the drops “In those days, people would talk about fish
were getting bigger as they fell toward the because building a dam killed fish by elimi-
ground. nating river connectivity, so concerned people
Regionally, you can see these very small were building fish ladders to protect aquatic
drops in the form of hazy deep banks of fog life,” said Barros. “But building a dam also
in mountain valleys. When another system has an impact on the microclimate, like the
of clouds comes through and produces a very low-lying cloud formations on the banks of
light rainfall, the drops go through the low- the rivers. Then people in the region complain
er fog and increase in size. “This type of pre- that it gets too foggy, and vegetables in the
cipitation, although not generally accounted winter die because of the humidity and exces-
for in most weather models, can account for sive frost.”
almost 50 percent of the water cycle at some To truly understand the weather and how
locations,” said Barros. “When you’re not water moves from one state and one energy
measuring this, you’re missing a lot of water level to the next, both the macroclimate and
that the plants are using and that is keeping microclimate effects of anthropogenic activi-
the soil moist, making it difficult to close the ties need to be scrutinized. “That’s the strong
water budget.” engineering side of this,” said Barros. “Engi-
Elaborating on her research on weather neers tend to look at complex systems and put
in the mountains, Barros explained a recent parts together. We approach problems from a
analysis she worked on with Yajuan Duan, a more integrated perspective.” n
PhD student in her laboratory. When group-
ing data taken from a NASA satellite called Jade Grimes, Pratt Class of 2021,
MODIS each day over a ten-year period from
2006 to 2016, they noticed that, for the ma- hopes to major in civil engineering with a

certificate in architectural engineering.

2018 dukengineer 13

Mark Borsuk was hired FACULTY FOCUS
by Duke to lead an
initiative on risk and Risky Business
resilience engineering.
Mark Borsuk brings expertise in assessing and mitigating risk
14 2018 dukengineer to Duke Engineering and the university at large

Although engineers strive to build master’s degree from Duke University in de-
the accurate systems and devices cision science and statistics before going on
that can adapt to changes in an to receive his PhD in environmental science
environment, it can be incredibly and policy from Duke’s Nicholas School of
difficult to predict and properly account for the Environment, specifically focusing on
what happens when things do not go accord- aquatic and atmospheric sciences.
ing to plan. Mark Borsuk, associate profes-
sor of civil and environmental engineering, Armed with this multidisciplinary educa-
hopes to combat these issues by assessing tional background, Borsuk has a unique per-
risks and determining what, if anything, spective on the intersection of engineering,
can be done to mitigate or prepare for risk. statistics and the environment. He explains
Borsuk is not only an associate professor, but that his research goals are broadly to “use
also the director of the Pratt Initiative on data to improve public-sector decision-mak-
Risk and Resilience Engineering (PIRRE). ing.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree in civil A recent project Borsuk completed sought
engineering at Princeton University, Borsuk to create a model of climate change that
joined an environmental consulting firm. accounts for risk and uncertainty and how
Discouraged by the seemingly arbitrary na- such risks will affect society in the coming
ture of risky decision-making, Borsuk decid- decades. He points out that humans are in-
ed to go back to school to study how civil trinsically averse to risk—people purchase
and environmental engineering disciplines insurance policies for example, and expect
could benefit from increased statistical anal- to receive greater returns on riskier invest-
ysis and prediction science. ments. Instances like this show society’s de-
sire to tolerate risk if appropriately mitigated
Borsuk explains that when structures such and compensated.
as bridges are built, they are given a nonspe-
cific safety factor to conform to—perhaps But public policy is not always construed
the bridge has to be able to withstand loads and enacted in such a way.
ten times heavier than it is anticipated to
accommodate. Instead of using “one-size- From his studies, Borsuk concludes that
fits-all” factors to estimate and mitigate risk, while there is no easy or straightforward
Borsuk’s research strives to model civil and answer when it comes to climate change,
environmental engineering systems to better there is a greater risk of things being worse
withstand and account for the specific risks rather than better than expected. And due to
and issues those systems will face. humanity’s predisposition to avoiding risk,
climate mitigation policies should be more
To further his pursuit, Borsuk obtained a aggressive. His model accounts for previous
data and behaviors, as well as predictions

Mark Borsuk’s model- about the future—for example, will new tainty and variability in observed data. This
ing of environmental technology arise to reduce carbon emissions method also allows for existing knowledge
systems can help in an impactful way? Or will environmental to be incorporated into models, leading to
better inform policy damage get worse due to things like positive more inclusive and broad-reaching modeling
makers of the risks feedback cycles? and therefore more honest and informative
of climate change, predictions.
which can in turn While modeling systems, Borsuk com-
help preserve our bines prior knowledge and expert opinion In a broader sense, Borsuk places great
ecosystems. with strict mathematical data to predict not value in understanding risk for society as
only what may happen scientifically, but also a whole. He says, “Chronic risks can pose
what should be done policy-wise by society. heavy burdens of expense, disease and death,
He does this by using computer software to and acute crises can be unexpected or even
create models based on Bayesian statistics. unpredictable in their timing in magnitude.
Humanity’s ability to thrive in the 21st cen-
Bayesian statistics, Borsuk explains, is tury will depend on our capacity for antic-
“philosophically and mathematically” dis- ipating, mitigating and adapting to these
tinct from traditional statistical methods risks.”
and measures. Rather than assuming fixed,
well-determined values (which is the case in Borsuk was hired by Pratt with the specific
traditional statistics), Bayesian statistics al- goal of initiating a broad-reaching effort on
lows for model predictions to be represented risk and resilience. Together with Professor
using probabilities that account for uncer- Henri Gavin, he recently spearheaded the

2018 dukengineer 15

ABOVE: Bridges,
among other struc-
tural systems, must
account for risk and
uncertainty in their

LEFT: Mark Borsuk
and his research
team investigate the
assessment of risk
and resilience in civil
and environmental
engineering contexts.

16 2018 dukengineer


addition of a Master of Engineering pro- “Chronic risks to structural and environmental projects.
gram in risk engineering and a PhD track can pose Borsuk also piloted a new graduate-lev-
in systems, risk and decisions in CEE. heavy burdens
Borsuk hopes to further this growth by of expense, el class in the fall of 2018. Titled “Risk
connecting different schools within the disease and and Resilience Engineering,” this class fo-
university under an interdisciplinary cen- death, and cuses on how one characterizes risk, and,
ter devoted to risk and resilience. acute crises subsequently, assesses resilience. He and
can be unex- his students are exploring the concept
Borsuk sees much power in the mul- pected or even of resilience through multiple lenses—
tidisciplinary relationships at Duke. In unpredictable namely ones grounded in ecology, infra-
relation to risk, he sees how faculty from in their timing structure and social/community-based
Duke’s different schools have similar in- in magnitude. entities. For example, when a devastating
terests that stem from various academ- Humanity’s natural disaster occurs, there are many
ic disciplines. For example, individuals ability to thrive different types of resilience that allow an
at the Pratt School of Engineering, the in the 21st impacted area to resist or recover from
Sanford School of Public Policy, and the century will the challenges—from the engineering of
Nicholas School of the Environment are depend on our the buildings to the natural landscape to
all involved with studying risk and re- capacity for the strength of communities.
silience from different perspectives. He anticipating,
plans to develop a research program that mitigating and Risk is prevalent in almost all ar-
draws from the diverse expertise of these adapting to eas of existence. Borsuk names some of
distinct departments to better character- these risks.” these risks to include: “natural disasters,
ize and model risk. Borsuk believes such climate change, cyber-attacks, finan-
an entity can, among other goals, lead to cial shocks, terrorism and public health
a “stronger foundation of making deci- threats.” But no matter the threat, it is
sions with respect to the environment.” increasingly important to focus on how
to determine, combat and recover from
Borsuk’s work with risk initiatives are risks, both within and outside of engi-
also prevalent in his teaching through his neering. n
class called “Uncertainty, Design, and
Optimization” (CEE201). As a mandato- Isabella DeCarlo is a first-year student
ry class for undergraduate civil engineer- hoping to pursue a major in civil
ing majors, it introduces the idea of why
and how risk must be accounted for in engineering, a certificate in global
engineering design, specifically as applied development engineering, and
a minor in finance.

2018 dukengineer 17


Advancing Medicine
through Stem Cell Research

Shyni Varghese joins the Duke Engineering faculty, splitting her time between
medicine and engineering while seeking to impact the medical world

Shyni Varghese New faculty member Shyni Varghese environment. By giving the cells certain sig-
is pioneering the future of med- nals, the researchers can guide them toward
icine. Coming to Duke this past becoming functionally similar to heart or liv-
summer from the University of er cells, for example.
California at San Diego, Varghese holds a tri-
ple appointment in the Departments of Bio- Stem cells are responsible for repair in the
medical Engineering, Mechanical Engineer- human body. While they are helpful in this
ing and Materials Science, and Orthopaedic sense as well as having the potential to treat
Surgery. Her PhD is in polymer science, and disease, they can also become detrimental
she completed her post-doc in tissue engi- and lead to disease, such as cancer or fibrosis.
neering and stem cells. The Varghese lab seeks to understand how
the same signals which move the stem cells
When asked what brought her to Duke, toward repair can at the same time contrib-
she said she liked that her appointment is 50 ute to disease. She explained, “If we under-
percent medicine and 50 percent engineering. stand the onset of disease and its progression,
She works directly with clinicians and enjoys then we might be able to develop preventive
seeing the impact that her research has on the therapies, rather than just treating it after it
medical world. Varghese was named the first happens.”
MEDx Investigator by Duke’s MEDx initia-
tive, which fosters partnerships and interdisci- One area of research in Varghese’s lab is an
plinary research between the School of Medi- emerging technology called organ-on-a-chip,
cine and the Pratt School of Engineering. or tissue-on-a-chip. This experimental model
consists of human tissues formed from stem
Varghese’s research focuses on musculo- cells embedded within a microfluidics de-
skeletal tissue repair, organ-on-a-chip tech- vice—or “chip”—about the size of a penny.
nology and disease biophysics. The basis for The tissues on the chip can model human
her research centers around stem cells. Var- organs, such as the heart or liver.
ghese compares the development of a stem
cell to that of a child. This technology allows the researchers to
study how the heart forms, for example, and
“For a kid to grow the way you want the to test drugs on human tissue instead of on
kid to grow, you need to provide a nurturing animals. Not only does this save the lives of
environment or nurturing surroundings,” lab mice, but it also makes for a more ac-
said Varghese. “So like, ‘Go to school, do curate model. When drug screening is per-
this, get up in the morning,’ so on and so formed on animals, it may not work when
forth. The stem cells are like that. They don’t translated onto humans.
know much, so they just receive the signals
or directions from the surroundings and be- Organ-on-a-chip is not only human-spe-
come what the surroundings ask them to be.” cific, but can be further personalized to a pa-
tient’s genetic makeup, since not every drug
The idea in her lab is if stem cells are so works for every person. This personalization
versatile, then they should be able to treat allows for the development of a predictive
different diseases based on input from the system in which scientists can determine

18 2018 dukengineer

which drugs are more likely to work for peo- TOP, LEFT: Bioengineered her lab should be accessible to everyone and
ple with certain characteristics. Tissue-on-a- skeletal muscle tissues able to empower everyone.
chip has many applications, including cancer- (skeletal muscle-on-a-
on-a-chip, where researchers can study how chip) (Agarwal et al., Lab “I think if you are born as a human be-
cancer cells interact with other cells. Chip, 17, 3447, 2017) ing, you should have the resources to live a
happy life,” said Varghese. “It doesn’t matter
Another area of interest Varghese’s lab stud- TOP, RIGHT: Smart bio- if you’re rich or poor, you should have ac-
ies is known as the biophysics of disease. This mimetic hydrogels with cess to food, health, education and so on. I
sector of research focuses on two diseases— self-healing abilities believe that everyone is equal and everyone
cancer and fibrosis. On the subject of cancer, (Phadke et al., PNAS, should get an opportunity.
the researchers are examining metastasis, or 109, 4383, 2012)
what factors cause cancer cells to move from “If I can figure out a way to inject you
a primary site to a different, secondary site. ABOVE: Schematic with something and then that repairs your
They want to know whether the movement showing the molecular bone tissue or your skeletal muscle, then it
of the cancer cells is random or if something mechanism by which the doesn’t matter if you are in Africa or in the
drives them to move. mineral environment in U.S., you should be able to get that ther-
bone tissues promotes apy,” she continued. “I’m in a privileged
Varghese’s team is also looking at how fibro- osteogenic differentia- place. If I don’t think about [making these
sis, or scarring, can be prevented. Whenever tion of human mesen- treatments accessible to everyone], then as a
there is scarring, the tissue is thicker at the site chymal stem cells (Shih human being, I don’t think I bring any value
due to a buildup of protein deposits. Examin- et al., PNAS, 111, 990, to the world.” n
ing the proteins can provide clues as to how 2014)
the pathology of fibrosis can be reversed. Meredith Outlaw is a Master of Engineering
student in mechanical engineering.
In a recent mouse study of skin fibrosis, the
researchers identified a never-before-seen mol-
ecule that contributes to the fibrosis. By tar-
geting this molecule, they were able to reverse
the disease phenotype in mice. Now, they are
looking into how that discovery could apply
to humans.

Varghese’s research also looks at musculo-
skeletal tissue repair. There are two possibili-
ties in this area. One is to take stem cells, dif-
ferentiate them and transplant them into the
patient for repair. The other, more preferable,
option is to activate the patient’s own cells.

Activating a patient’s own cells to contrib-
ute to tissue repair is cost-effective, easy to im-
plement, reduces treatment time and has the
potential to be widely accessible. Varghese is a
firm believer that the therapies developed in

2018 dukengineer 19


Duke Engineering
Design Class and Pod

A new first-year student experience is catching positive reviews from its first semesters

In the fall of 2017, the Pratt School of The class emphasizes community-based
Engineering debuted a new course for applications of engineering, something ab-
first-year students centered on a hands- sent in most older Duke design courses. The
on approach to the engineering design new design course expands on the ideas of
process. The course, led by Ann Sater- existing courses within the first-year engi-
bak, professor of the practice of biomedical neering curriculum, such as the Engineering
engineering, and Sophia Santillan, assistant Innovation class in mechanical engineering
professor of the practice of mechanical engi- and the Engineering the Planet class in civil
neering and materials science, aims to intro- and environmental engineering.
duce first-year students to problem-solving
and design-based engineering at the begin- To accommodate the new course, Sater-
ning of their Duke career. bak oversaw the conversion of The Jinny
and Ed Pratt Commons in the Levine Sci-
ence Research Center into a 5,000-square-
foot design space, now known as the Duke
Engineering Design Pod. To help the course
achieve its ambitious goals, the Design Pod
was outfitted with workbenches, rapid pro-
totyping machines such as laser cutters and
3-D printers, and various other power and
hand tools that allow first-year students to
gain knowledge about the engineering design

With these resources at hand, students are
able to quickly design, prototype, test, rede-
sign and implement their ideas, all within the
Pod. One of the things the students have en-
joyed the most so far is that they are never lim-
ited by their resources. Many of the tools that
are available to them are things that previous
first-year students were unable to easily access.

The students in the course formed se-
mester-long project teams, working week
in and week out with the same team mem-
bers. The experience teaches the students a

20 2018 dukengineer

Annual Fund

LEFT: ‘O2’ – Oxygen lesson about how engineering works in the interdisciplinary teams are important to Sa-
Cylinder Storage on real world, something that is vastly differ- terbak and Santillan.
Walkers – Design a ent from the lecture- and laboratory-based
safe and effective learning of most introductory engineering Other Duke faculty members have aug-
storage system for classes. mented the leadership of Saterbak and San-
three oxygen cylinders tillan and have been a valuable tool for the
on a Rollator walker, Freshman Mary Gooneratne (E’21), one of course in its early stages. Each project team
for the Duke Pulmo- the 50 first-year students in the course, said, is assigned a “technical mentor”—a faculty
nary Rehabilitation “Learning engineering concepts through the member with expertise related to that par-
Clinic completion of a project offers a sneak peek ticular project.
into what a career in engineering could ac-
ABOVE: One of the tually look like, which is not only enjoyable “I’m so thankful that so many of my col-
first-year design and fun, but can be insightful for freshmen leagues have volunteered their time and
teams works to devel- unsure if they want to pursue engineering.” effort by meeting with students regularly
op a new model for and offering guidance and feedback,” said
training nurses how The new course is open to any first-year Santillan. She believes that the students are
to insert a needle to engineering student, regardless of whether benefitting immensely from getting to know
draw blood. they have a particular major in mind yet, al- various faculty members at Duke and gain-
lowing students to work with other students ing exposure to deeper levels of Pratt than
whose interests differ from their own. These typical first-year students.

2018 dukengineer 21

The new Design Pod
is surrounded by win-
dows, giving passersby
the opportunity to
look in on the design
projects as they

22 2018 dukengineer


Because this is the inaugural semester of Mechanical engineering student Jake Morris
the course, Saterbak and Santillan have been (E’20) wished the class debuted sooner.
careful to make note of successes and possible “I took the Computational Methods course
improvements to the curriculum and course. during my first semester, the one all engi-
The end goal is to expand the course as it neering students at Duke take,” said Morris.
gains traction in the first-year engineering “While I enjoyed that class, I would’ve loved
community. to have the opportunity to take the new
“I think that, just like for any other class, class alongside it. Solving challenges for the
we can learn from the parts that have worked community and implementing design-based
well and the parts that
could go better to make
the class better in future “Professor Saterbak and I are collecting feedback from all
semesters,” said Santil-
lan. “Professor Saterbak of the involved groups—faculty, TAs and students—to see
and I are collecting feed- what we can do in the next iteration of the course to make

back from all of the in- sure it’s a meaningful, inspiring, and effective course!”
volved groups—faculty,
TAs and students—to
see what we can do in the next iteration of solutions would’ve been a great way to gain
the course to make sure it’s a meaningful, in- quick engineering experience at when I first
spiring, and effective course!” got to Duke.”
While the engineering community’s re- Overall, the new course is on the right
sponse to the new Design Pod has been track. Students are eager to learn about the
positive, the introduction of the design class engineering design process and have been
and Design Pod caused mixed reactions for willing to try new things and break out of
some. The location of the Design Pod used their comfort zones, and Saterbak and Santil-
to be home to the Blue Express Cafe. Many lan are now looking to continue the momen-
students were surprised to see the removal of tum of the class in future semesters.
this popular place to get food. Economics When asked whether she would recom-
student Alex Mao (T’20) was especially sad mend the design class to future first-year
to see the cafe go. students, Gooneratne responded, “I would
“When I got back to school and saw that absolutely recommend the course to other
Blue Express was gone, I was pretty disap- first-years! It’s definitely solidified my deci-
pointed. It was my favorite spot for lunch sion to go into engineering.” n
whenever I had class in the LSRC. The De-
sign Pod did look really cool from what I saw Ryan Kempf is a sophomore
though, so I’m glad to see that the space is
being put to good use,” said Mao. pursuing a mechanical engineering

Upperclassmen engineering students were major and finance minor.

disappointed that they didn’t have the same
opportunity to take the class as freshmen.

2018 dukengineer 23


A New Emphasis on Design

for Biomedical Engineers

BME Design Fellows Program helps prepare undergraduates for industry careers

After 20 years at Duke Engineering, Mark Palmeri has seen a lot of
students graduate—and while many of them go on to graduate,
medical or professional school, even more decide to seek a career in
the biomedical industry.
Now an associate professor of the practice of biomedical engineer-
ing, Palmeri wants to make sure the BME program is preparing students well for
those careers. And with a bachelor’s degree (2000) and PhD (2005) in biomedical
engineering from Duke, and an MD (2007) from the school to boot, he’s just the
man for the job.

Palmeri has developed a BME Design Fellows Program that is designed to be the
industry-focused equivalent to the Pratt Research Fellows program. The program is
three semesters long and includes a summer internship experience.

BME students apply in fall of their junior year, and, if selected, will enroll in
an industry-skills building course the following spring. This course is designed

to teach students techniques that
they will use during their summer
internships. The program then sets
fellows up in either a hospital or
industry internship in the Triangle
area. Throughout the summer, stu-
dents meet with the other fellows to
discuss their experiences so that they
can reflect and learn from others as
they work through their first intern-
ship. Finally, in their senior year, the
fellows take a two-semester design

“We have received great feedback
so far and there seems to be a lot of
excitement,” said Palmeri, noting
that this year over 30 juniors applied
to the program and 18 were accept-
ed. “This is twice the number we
24 2018 dukengineer

had originally intended, but we wanted to expand the program because people OPPOSITE AND ABOVE:
were so interested.” Students showcase their
design projects at the
Palmeri is currently in the process of setting up internships for the par- Biomedical Engineering
ticipants, saying, “The trajectory of Duke BME students after graduation is Design Symposium.
shifting from medical school and research careers to industry. To help these
students be better prepared for these pursuits, we’re creating a more dedicated 2018 dukengineer 25
tract for them in the curriculum.” Palmeri’s hope is that with this program,
BME students interested in going into industry will be able to learn skills and
techniques in class that they will later use in their industry position and will
therefore feel more capable and qualified as they join the workforce.

Palmeri’s new program seeks to provide interested and curious students with
the opportunity to use their time in college to figure out what they want to use
their degree for. By giving students an opportunity to take industry-focused
classes, this program will help students become more prepared and confident
to join the workforce.

Although Duke’s career center provides students with resources to search for
internships and prepare for interviews, it can still be a daunting experience for
students seeking summer internships. Every student goes through the process
independently, not necessarily knowing what the most important information

“WINNING GROUP:” Last from their classes is when it comes to the job search. Then, when students
year’s “OptiBone” team are at their first internship, they are apart from their Duke friends.
composed of seniors
Meredith Lee, Vinay A program though Duke such as the BME Design Fellows program gives
Nagaraj, Sonali Shah, students the opportunity to go through this process with their peers and
Niranjana Shashikumar gives them a chance to reflect on their experiences and learn from others, so
and Mounika Vanka they can be better prepared for future jobs.
was awarded first place
for their device, which By giving students more opportunities through their coursework to focus
uses optical coherence on preparing for their industry positions, the BME Design Fellows Program
tomography to monitor seeks to help them feel more prepared for life in industry and equip them
neonatal bone density. for a successful move into the workforce after their four years at Duke. n

Cassandra Ingram is a Pratt sophomore
pursuing a double major in biomedical engineering

and electrical and computer engineering.

26 2018 dukengineer


Building Cross-Cultural Bonds through

Healthcare Technology

Duke forms a special relationship with the students at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda

As part of the ongoing Duke-MUK Partner- During the summer of 2017, a group of eight Duke stu-
ship, Monty Reichert led a team of BME dents departed to Uganda, where they underwent train-
students to Makerere University in Kampala ing at Makerere University in Kampala and spent their
(MUK), Uganda, to work in person with peers remaining time repairing medical equipment at hospi-
they have been collaborating with this semes- tals there. It was the first year of the Engineering World Health
ter in BME 590: Transcontinental Design. (EWH)-DukeEngage Summer Institute (SI) Uganda program,
which aimed to both contribute to Ugandan hospitals by repair-

ing medical equipment and to enrich the education
of Duke students by providing them with a unique
experience of getting involved in the local Ugandan

“When I met the students at the pre-departure din-
ner, I could tell even they didn’t know what exactly
they had gotten themselves into,” remarked Maddy
Bishop-Van Horn, the SI Engineering Coordinator
for EWH.

The students began their journey at Makerere Uni-
versity, where they met the participants from the in-
stitution who would work alongside them throughout
the trip. Bishop-Van Horn, who has worked on similar
projects in Rwanda, Cambodia, Nepal and Tanzania,
noted that the students selected for the program had
a wide range of technical skills. With a mix of two
ECE, four BME and two neuroscience majors, “The
team was able to learn together and build each other’s
skills up throughout the course of the trip,” she noted. During the
hands-on labs and lectures, the students developed their under-
standing of needs-based design in the developing world.
Their contributions to the hospitals were tremendous. Bishop-
Van Horn recalled that in the orthopedic department at one of the
hospitals the students visited, nearly 75 percent of the equipment
being used was either broken or not working properly. This was a
public hospital for those who needed help but could not afford to
visit a private hospital.

2018 dukengineer 27

ABOVE: Participants work “I believe you gain a deeper understanding
with members of the of how you can help as an engineer when
university on their design. you really go to places and see what they
actually need.”
RIGHT: Prototype of wheel
to assist those with
cerebral palsy

The students were able to repair much ful for the students, who developed skills
of this equipment and even visited a den- about needs-based design and were able
tal school where they got 10 to 15 dental to put them to use while designing equip-
chairs fully functioning. Some of the re- ment for physiotherapy. One example of a
paired equipment had been out of service particularly creative solution was a physical
for years, including a grinder for orthot- therapy device for patients with cerebral
ic braces and an autoclave. These are just palsy built using a simple bicycle wheel.
some examples of over 100 pieces of equip-
ment the students repaired at seven differ- Duke students were solving real-world
ent hospitals in Kampala. problems and saw how their solutions
worked. They worked closely with staff in
The experience was even more impact- the hospitals and professors at Makerere

28 2018 dukengineer

University, learning more than they had would not otherwise have gained.” Living TOP, LEFT: Ugandan students
ever imagined they would. in Kampala, the students were able to im- work on the oxygen regulator
merse themselves in the culture, even en- prototype in Makerere.
Reflecting on his experience, Duke joying a performance by the Ndere Dance
student Praruj Pant said, “Honestly, we Troupe and going on a safari. BOTTOM LEFT: Dental chairs
learned more from the people in the com- repaired by program partic-
munity that we worked with than we ac- Living in the community also fostered a ipants
tually taught them. It was truly a hum- deeper understanding of the engineering
bling experience.” Although the program challenges. As Tan stated, “I believe you ABOVE: Duke participants
participants certainly made an impact on gain a deeper understanding of how you with their Makerere peers
the community, DukeEngage aims to fos- can help as an engineer when you real-
ter collaboration between participants and ly go to places and see what they actually
community members, which is clearly seen need.” Given the positive impacts of the
in how much the participants learned from program on both the local community and
local Ugandans. the participants, the EWH-Duke Engage
SI Uganda program will likely continue to
Outside of work, according to Helen grow. n
Tan, one of the Duke students in the pro-
gram, the students “built many meaning- Nimisha Pant is a freshman currently
ful relationships and had conversations and studying mechanical engineering.
cross-cultural understandings that [they]

2018 dukengineer 29


Mind the Gap

Connecting Clinicians and Engineers at Duke

Creating an environment where the clinical, engineering and business fields
can collaborate for further research and commercialization possibilities

ABOVE: Geoffrey Ginsburg, Historically, there has been an im- by Professor Joe Knight. The course places val-
director of MEDx and mense divide between clinicians ue on the direct observation of clinical inter-
profesor of medicine and and engineers. Failure to adequately actions by design teams to search for clinical
biomedical engineering communicate about clinical needs gaps in the implementation of medical prac-
with School of Medicine and functional engineering requirements has tice. Through the course, students learn how to
Dean Mary Klofman slowed the development and commercial- identify clinical needs, determine critical func-
ization of medical technologies, resulting in tional requirements for the solution and gener-
OPPOSITE: The Duke patients not receiving breakthrough medical ate value propositions to develop the solution.
University Medical Center treatments, which potentially worsens their
is home to clinicians who outcomes. Duke is looking to cross that chasm. Communication—MEDx
work side-by-side with the
technical minds of Duke’s Through strong in- Bringing the correct functional groups togeth-
engineering departments. terdisciplinary facili- er is critical to a medical innovation’s success,
tation, Duke’s School and MEDx is working to secure those rela-
of Medicine, the Pratt tionships. Founded in 2015, MEDx is an ini-
School of Engineering, tiative through the Duke School of Medicine
and the Duke Inno- and the Pratt School of Engineering with the
vation & Entrepre- goal of fueling medical and engineering collab-
neurship Initiative are orations. By facilitating dialogue between the
creating an environ- two groups, MEDx hopes that partnerships
ment at the university can be established that would have otherwise
where the clinical, en- been missed, and new medical innovations can
gineering and business flourish as a result.
fields can collaborate
for further research This year, MEDx has hosted a myriad of
and commercializa- events helping to accomplish this goal. For ex-
tion possibilities. Each ample, in October, MEDx hosted the Kaganov
group represents a unique phase of the technolo- Symposium, an event to raise awareness of the
gy development and commercialization process, immense need for new solutions in the field of
which allows for the generation of interdepart- pulmonary medicine and build collaborations
mental competencies across the university. amongst the research and clinical communi-
ties. The symposium hosted experts across the
Ideation—Innovation & Entrepreneurship fields of medicine and engineering, including
faculty from both the School of Medicine and
How is a clinical need identified? Who do you the Pratt School of Engineering, and some of
design the solution for? What are the unique the leading patient advocates in lung disease.
features that the solution must contain? Before The winners of three new research grants to
development of a medical innovation can even teams of engineers and clinicians were also
be considered, these and similar questions need announced at the event. The symposium was
to be thoroughly vetted and understood. one of the first events of a recent $3 million
gift from Alan and Carol Kaganov to improve
That is the goal of the Innovation and En- pulmonary disease outcomes by fostering new
trepreneurship (I&E) course Biodesign, taught

30 2018 dukengineer

collaborations across engineering and medicine at plastic surgeon by trade, has had years of experience
Duke. as a CEO and investor in several medical device
MEDx has also sponsored numerous workshops
and seminar series designed to educate the Duke net- “The class was created to foster a diverse group
work, highlighting the research of fellow Duke labs, of product development talents, while simultane-
teaching entrepreneurship and regulatory skills, and ously weaving them together to form a whole,” said
awarding recognition for individuals who have served Johnson.
as examples for the benefits of the clinician-engineer
interaction. The course has no technical components, but rather
teaches the students how to start and run a medical

device company. Teams, comprising
students in marketing, finance, R&D,
regulatory, and others, fulfill the roles of
each functional group within a medical
device company, with the class culmi-
nating in a full application to the FDA
for a medical device as the final project.

Johnson focuses heavily on the value
of all three components—medicine,
engineering and business—in order to
succeed in a medical device venture.

“The class was created to foster a diverse group of
product development talents, while simultaneously
weaving them together to form a whole.”

Development—Biomedical Engineering “Unmet clinical need is the number-one determining
factor whether a medical device will succeed,” said
Duke’s Biomedical Engineering Department (BME) Johnson. “And you have to get clinician feedback to
has been at the forefront of medical innovations determine if this need is being met.”
across the world for years; the department has con-
tinued to adapt to the rapidly changing field through This idea of interdisciplinary education is being
a variety of new course offerings designed to create adapted through these course designs to generate
engineers who are not only technically sound, but more well-rounded engineers who understand the
also clinically competent and business savvy. implications of their technologies outside of their
traditional technical roles.
Through BME’s design course offerings, students
are exposed to unique applications of their engineer- Johnson commented on the necessity of this mul-
ing skillset that challenge their innovative and tech- tidisciplinary interaction, saying “Creating a medical
nical abilities. Some of the options across both the product that is actually needed and simultaneously
undergraduate and graduate design courses include profitable is like a five-tumbler lock. You may be able
Devices for People with Disabilities, Biomedical and to get through four of the tumblers, but if you can’t
Clinical Design, Medical Device Design, and Inter- get that last one, the door will not open.” n
continental Engineering Design.
Erik Anderson is a master’s student
Another interdisciplinary course new to the BME studying engineering management with
department this year is Biomedical Product Devel-
opment, taught by Peter Johnson, MD. Johnson, a a focus in biomedical engineering.

2018 dukengineer 31


The Next Big Thing:

A Conversation with Steve McClelland and Bill Walker

How two Pratt graduates are helping put Duke innovators on the map

LEFT TO RIGHT: “If you know about Duke University beyond develop their biomedical engineering program
Bill Walker E’90, athletics, you know that it’s a great educa- while founding two companies. He left UVA to
Ph.D. ’95 tional institution. You know that it’s a great run HemoSonics, a diagnostics company focused
and research institution. But you may not know on determining the causes of critical bleeding,
Steven it as a place that’s phenomenal at getting its ideas and from there returned to Duke, where he now
McClelland E’95 out into the real world—there’s no reason that serves as the Mattson Family Director of Entre-
those three things shouldn’t all be aligned.” preneurial Ventures.
These are the sentiments that Bill Walker and
Steven McClelland shared with me about the tra- With their combined experience in entrepre-
jectory of Pratt during the years to come. Both neurship, Walker and McClelland hope to make
Duke Engineering alumni with vast experienc- Duke a place that fosters a culture of innovation,
es in tech and engineering startups, Walker and while also providing students with an under-
McClelland have since returned to Duke with standing of how to make their ideas and products
the primary goal of making Pratt a hub for in- marketable. The duo have a wealth of experience
novation and entrepreneurial ventures in higher after dealing with difficulties in translating some
education. of their early ideas to the marketplace.
McClelland, a member of the Duke Class of
’95, found himself in the startup scene not long “Back in 1995, I was trying to build high-
after graduation. After starting a company in end electric cars and virtual reality goggles. It
Boston, McClelland left for the West Coast to was only 25 years too early,” recalled McClel-
begin another company in San Francisco, which land. However, Walker’s and McClelland’s ini-
eventually sold to Yahoo!. He then worked at tial struggles gave them the learning experience
Twitter, and from there, came back to Durham necessary to know how to build successful com-
to work at Duke and change how the university panies and products. “I have a lot of scars, and
approaches entrepreneurship in engineering. I remember where I got them all,” continued
Walker, an undergraduate and PhD graduate Walker.
in biomedical engineering, was shaped by his
early experiences in innovation. “I started to in- McClelland says that Duke is a very social
vent things and found out pretty quickly that place, thriving from its interdisciplinary nature
industry didn’t care—there was no real way to and diverse community, but that he thinks the
get it out to the marketplace,” said Walker. “If I university can do a better job of translating that
wanted my inventions out in the world, I was the social nature into collaboration for entrepre-
guy that was going to have to make that happen.” neurship. “To build a company, you don’t want
With that mindset, Walker worked his way just all computer scientists, or all engineers, or
into the startup field, and during his career, all policy, or all marketing. You won’t get very
joined the University of Virginia and helped far,” said McClelland, adding that part of Duke’s
appeal is its wide variety of talented people from
various fields, and that one of his goals is to
build better teamwork between those sectors.

32 2018 dukengineer

“I have

a lot of


and I

rememberWalker and McClelland also cult to predict. Reminiscing on
keep an eye on the state of the where I their own college experiences,
technology and engineering in- got them McClelland remarked that, “My
dustries, and note how the rela- freshman engineering computer
tionship between big companies programming course was For-
and startups can produce inno- all.” tran.”

vation leading to products and “Mine was Pascal!” responded
revenues at a rapid pace. “The day Walker, adding another obsolete
that somebody buys your invention for millions programming language to the list.
and millions of dollars is long gone,” stated Walk- A main goal of college education, as Walker rec-
er. Instead, big companies are looking for prom- ognizes, it to “learn how to learn,” so that though
ising startups to acquire and integrate into their certain material may not be applicable in a job
business model. setting, the process certainly is. As Walker com-
“When Facebook acquires a company, they’re mented, “The fact that you learned the wrong
buying a team,” said Walker. Companies are al- language, Steve, is secondary to the fact that you
ways looking externally for fresh ideas coming learned how to take an abstract idea and express it
from innovative teams and people. McClelland as a concrete algorithm.”
added that, “The fastest way to get a high-level College education also prepares graduates for
position in Google is probably to start your own on-the-job learning, as McClelland expressed
company and prove that you learn things more when speaking about his job in Boston. “At my
rapidly on your own.” first startup, my co-founders all had computer sci-
Talking about the economics of the tech indus- ence degrees from MIT, and they made fun of my
try, McClelland discussed how startups are more programming which made me better. It felt like I
likely to stay private, since there’s more opportu- got a second education in computer science, and
nity to be made being acquired by a larger com- that was great for me!”
pany than there is in the public sector for most McClelland and Walker closed with a few words
businesses. “Android changed Google. Instagram, of advice for hopeful innovators and entrepre-
WhatsApp and Oculus changed Facebook,” said neurs. Walker encourages the students he works
McClelland, showing the influence that smaller with not to let a fear of failure keep them from
companies can have through acquisition. starting a company. “If you think you want to do
Business is constantly changing, and learning a startup, do a startup. When I sit down in a room
how to tackle that change as an entrepreneur is full of investors and I say, ‘Well, my first company
something McClelland and Walker hope to bring failed,’ their ears perk up and they get excited.”
to Duke. “Part of it is demystifying the path,” said McClelland responded along the same lines, say-
McClelland. “No matter how successful or not a ing, “There’s no penalty to apply to Google in two
company is, you’re probably going to learn a lot if years and say, ‘I ran a startup into the ground.’”
you’re paying attention. And you’re a more quali- As much as they want students to succeed, Mc-
fied individual for whatever you do next.” Clelland and Walker agree that failure is a learning
While McClelland and Walker aim to make experience, especially when it comes to running a
Duke a better place for innovation and entrepre- company. And when it comes to entrepreneurship,
neurship, they both agree that making college ed- finding an opportunity for a business or product
ucation more “career-oriented” isn’t necessarily the to thrive is everything.
way to do it. “This isn’t job training,” said Walk- As Walker put it, “Don’t play to win the hardest
er. “This is preparation for a career, and we don’t game. Find a game that you can win.” n
know what that career will be.”
Walker’s point hints at the ever-changing state Will Stewart is a junior
of business and technology that can be so diffi-
studying electrical and computer engineering.

2018 dukengineer 33


Duke eNable
Printing “Prosthetics”

Duke’s growing student group helps many in the local community, but putting a
name on the devices they make is a tricky subject

Kaylyn gets fitted for Duke eNable was started in spring Designing Task-Specific Assistive
her connection piece, of 2016, and since then has be- Devices
which allows for the come an efficient 3-D-printing
attachment of various group that works to make pros- The club’s first beneficiary was a baker from
task-specific devices. thetic-like devices for amputees at home and Wake Forest named Kaylyn. The club’s pri-
abroad. Even with such success, its president mary focus with Kaylyn has been to build
has recently found herself wondering how to devices that are task-specific. For example,
more accurately describe the club’s role in the past devices include one that lets her turn
field of prosthetics. her swing table to facilitate cake frosting, one
that allows for easier dough rolling, and one
As a group of creative undergraduates that helps with opening the refrigerator in
who have access to 3-D-printing technology, her bakery. Current endeavors include opti-
Duke eNable accomplishes many feats in the mizing past devices based on Kaylyn’s feed-
name of “prosthetics.” But can its work right- back and designing a new device that will
fully be categorized as such, and if not, what enable her right arm to hold and drink from
can we call it? To find out, consider some of bottles and cups.
the work that the club has done.
The next recipient’s name is Nathan, a
12-year-old boy with a congenital deformi-
ty below his elbow. His needs have inspired
several projects, including an arm and hand
system that allows Nathan to grip a bike han-
dle. It has since been decorated with a Star
Wars-themed slingshot, per Nathan’s request.

The device is an elbow-powered, ca-
ble-driven system that uses elbow movement
to control finger contraction and relaxation.
eNable approaches Nathan’s devices as fun
ways to help him transition to the prosthetic
arm he is currently awaiting. The team will
be releasing their designs on the Duke eN-
able website so that other groups with similar
missions can make use of them for their own
beneficiaries’ needs.

Another local community member the
group has worked with is a recent pharma-
cy school graduate named Brooke, who has
a congenital partial-hand deformity. As a
pharmacist, Brooke often must give vaccines
to patients. However, her deformity gets in

34 2018 dukengineer

the way of this because it limits her ability to One reason behind the hesitation simply LEFT TO RIGHT:
pinch skin. lies in the fact that the devices the club pro- Brooke prepares to be
duces are normally for specific activities and fitted for a prosthetic
Duke eNable addressed this issue by adjust- not for day-to-day use. What the club prints
ing open-sourced files to create a wrist-pow- can more accurately be described as “assis- that will allow her
ered device that generates a pinching force tive devices.” Beyond this technicality, there to give vaccines to
when Brooke rotates her wrist. The team is are concerns that university clubs like Duke
looking forward to delivering this new device eNable must consider before likening their ef- patients. Chris is
to Brooke for a test trial. forts to that of licensed prosthetists. measured for the
drawing mock-ups of
Finally, meet Chris, Duke eNable’s interna- The club has little to worry about when his shoulder harness
tional recipient from Haiti. Chris’s project was it comes to giving the patients their devices. that will control his
one of eNable’s most demanding projects yet, However, in the field of prosthetics, there are prosthetic. Nathan’s
as the distance put the team in a tricky posi- many stages that a device must go through to slingshot attached to
tion. Because travel to Haiti to fit and measure finally reach its recipient. This is all in the best his bike arm/hand.
Chris was limited, the group had to over-pre- interest of the patient since it ensures that the
pare for each visit to plan for any obstacles device is optimized in every possible way be-
that could pop up. fore the patient uses it.

The goal of this project was to provide Chris Although Duke eNable strives to emulate
with gripping ability in his left hand through this optimization process, it is limited in re-
the activation of mobility in his shoulder. This sources to do so on the same level as industry.
involved designing a harness connected by As licensed prosthetist Ashlie White states, “I
cable to the thumb of the hand that would believe this to be a moment of technological
allow for gripping control through shoulder disruption, and engineering students are the
movement. perfect group to push these boundaries. I just
think it is important to remember that there
With this device, eNable members not only is a human being with a medical condition on
hoped to give Chris greater freedom of mo- the receiving end of this project, and someone
tion, but also to help him overcome the stigma needs to be looking out for his or her best
surrounding physical deformity in his culture. interest.”

Prosthetics or Assistive Devices? With Ashlie’s words as a reminder of the
role it plays in this evolving field of prosthet-
There is a clear pattern in Duke eNable’s ics, Duke eNable continues to help its recip-
work that shines through each of their proj- ients approach each day with more ease. n
ects—each recipient that the club works with
is offered the highest level of individualized Sabrina Qi is a sophomore
attention. However, despite its efforts to give pursuing a biomedical engineering major
each recipient the most thorough and com-
plete treatment experience possible, there is and global health minor.
still debate over what groups like eNable can
call their products.

2018 dukengineer 35

36 2018 dukengineer


Duke’s New Reality

What is real? Is it what we see? With virtual reality, that answer is a completely new one,
especially at Duke. Home now to four locations, the DiVE, Bolt VR, TEC VR and the
Multimedia Project Studio, the Duke community can enter worlds never before imaginable.
Follow below as we explore what each of these virtual reality experiences has to offer.

Step into the world of The DiVE Regis Kopper, assistant research professor of
Minecraft, one of the mechanical engineering and materials science
demos at the DiVE. Since 2005, the Duke immersive Virtual En- and director of the DiVE, says virtual reality is
vironment, also known as the DiVE, has been extremely versatile. There have been human-
a large-scale virtual reality (VR) facility. Users ities classes that have taken tours through an-
explore VR in a box-like display where they cient buildings, simulations of archeological
walk into a completely enclosed cube with dig sites, an Olympic trap-shooting simulator
screens projected onto each of the six faces. that teaches marksmanship while the brain is
With users wearing special glasses, the system analyzed by an EEG system, and other envi-
projects a different image for each eye to trick ronments that deal with complex interaction
the mind into seeing an illusion of depth. techniques designed and evaluated in the
DiVE. And that barely scratches the surface
This principle is called stereoscopic vision. of the fun the DiVE has had in its more than
The projected display shows each eye a spe- a decade of existence.
cific image of the environment from the indi-
vidual eye’s perspective, causing the brain to There is also much research being conduct-
merge both images into a single picture that ed in the DiVE to develop training programs
contains depth information. This is similar to for professions that allow for consistent yet
the experience of a 3-D movie. risk-free scenarios, one of the main advantages
of virtual reality. Applications in public ser-
As opposed to 3-D movies, however, the vices, education, therapy, design, manufactur-
DiVE allows users to interact with the vir- ing and health care are boundless in VR, and
tual environment through the use of motion the DiVE serves as a resource for the Duke
tracking sensors. A sensor is placed on the community to wander deliberately in worlds
user’s glasses to track the head position and already created and yet to be made.
another one is placed in the hand controller.
The system then renders motion from the There are many courses that Duke students
user’s point of view as they travel the virtual can take that make use of the DiVE. At the
environment, and the hand controller allows undergraduate level, David Zielinski teaches
the user to perform actions such as picking ISS 320: Introduction to User Interface De-
up objects or flying through the environment. sign in Unity 3-D in the fall, which helps stu-
dents with little technical and programming
Those user interactions require advanced background to develop skills necessary to
technology to run smoothly. The DiVE sys- build virtual reality applications. At the grad-
tem has recently upgraded its six render uate level, Kopper teaches ME 555.07: Virtu-
nodes—intricate computers that each now al Reality Systems Research and Design in the
have an i7 processor, 64 GB of RAM and one spring, which gives an overview of the state-
Nvidia Quadro K6000 graphics cards that en- of-the-art research in virtual reality and in-
able the display of highly complex graphics— volves a semester-long research project. Much
and a master node that manages the other six. can be done, no matter your experience, to
This level of computational power allows for experience the best of virtual reality.
graphics to be displayed in real time, provid-
ing highly realistic immersive experiences.

2018 dukengineer 37


Bolt & TEC VR The CAVE at the DiVE Bolt VR and the TEC VR spaces is that the TEC VR space
in its idle state. has an educational component rather than just an entertain-
Adding to the accessibility, the ment focus, as the Bolt VR does. TEC VR is also equipped
Bolt VR and the newly built with additional capabilities, specifically a green screen to
TEC VR spaces offer a theater help in hosting VR events.
where students and faculty can
dabble in virtual reality. More In the near future, there will be a faculty reservation pro-
than sixty VR titles are in each cess along with trained staff to allow instructors to craft
space that bring new worlds and ways to help students learn conceptually difficult topics
new experiences where you are via a virtual environment. Two games worth mentioning
directly in the thick of it. are Organon, which takes users on a detailed, virtual tour
through the human anatomy, and Titans of Space 2.0,
The immersion is done with which provides a gorgeous trip through our cosmos fit for
an HTC Vive Headset and as- any stargazer. This showcases how applicable this tool can
sociated controllers. To keep be for any area of knowledge.
track of your movements in the
10’x10’ space, sensors shoot
out a volumetric stream of in-
frared lasers to keep track of
the positional orientation and
acceleration of the headset and
the controllers. For the visu-
al immersion, the level of data
streaming to and from the com-
puter is massive due to the two
lenses in the headset. Each lens
has a resolution of 1080x1200,
meaning each eye takes about
90-95 percent of the horsepower
that gaming on a normal moni-
tor takes, which makes VR im-
possible to run on subpar tech.

According to Mark Everett
Papa McGill, the manager of
these spaces, “In order to have
a high-quality visual experience,
the system needs to run at 90
frames per second at all times.
Any drop below that results in
an unpleasant, non-immersive
experience. If you’ve tried VR
and didn’t like it, you probably
had a bad setup.” McGill con-
tinues by talking about how the
Bolt and TEC VR spaces are
built to take on the toughest,
longest gaming sessions to “give
you virtual reality at a consumer
level but at its best.”

The difference between the
38 2018 dukengineer

Multimedia Project Studio The build at the TEC gether and enjoying the vastness
VR—an upgraded of VR.”
The Multimedia Project Studio (MPS) located in Perkins version from the
Library next to the Link is one last place to find virtual Bolt VR. The HTC The club plans on hosting
reality. Designed for the Duke community to craft, edit Vive Headgear is larger public events that provide
and finalize any form of media, this space recently add- below and the con- opportunities not offered at the
ed an Oculus Rift for constructing virtual reality, adding trollers are above existing outlets for VR, such
another avenue for students and faculty to create and the computer. as presentations from industry
innovate. professionals, demos of appli-
cations under development and
The core software running the space are AutoDesk, career-building opportunities.
Blackmagic Fusion, DAZ 3D, Maya, Unity and Unreal
Engine. And with that level of software comes a steep So What Is Reality?
learning curve. The space has trained instructors, howev-
er, to help get you started. Chip Bobbert, director of the At Duke, it is not a matter of
MPS, says, “It is a grand experiment for us,” and looks what is seen; it is what you can
forward to seeing what the Duke community does with do that is real, and with virtual
this powerful and sophisticated technology. reality being an accessible, lim-
itless and mind-blowing tool,
To help with that learning curve, Devils Cross Reality there is only time in our way
(DXR) is a new student organization that uses all forms before we create worlds to help
of virtual reality at Duke and strives to teach and expose this one. With this combination
students to what VR can do, no matter their background of the DiVE, Bolt VR, TEC
or skill level. The club was founded by Mark Steelman, VR and the Multimedia Proj-
a junior DiVE researcher who has made it his mission to ect Studio, there is nothing vir-
create a VR community that brings students and faculty tual about the reality Duke can
together to learn and explore the ways VR can benefit make. n
Samuel Lester is a
“It’s hard to talk and understand VR unless you’ve sophomore pursuing a degree in
tried it,” remarked Steelman. “Virtual reality is still very
much in the R&D stage and there isn’t much education mechanical engineering.
for it. This group was made for teaching each other to-
2018 dukengineer 39


Engineering at Beaufort

40 2018 dukengineer

Based in Beaufort, North Carolina, the Duke
University Marine Laboratory puts engineer-
ing expertise to use in the marine environ-
ment through research into coral reefs, oceanic
bioacoustics and microbiology. Meet three of the
engineers operating on Duke’s east coast and
learn about how engineering can be applied to the
world’s oceans.

Professor James Hench
Understanding Coral Reefs

Professor James Hench is an associate professor of oceanography
in the Nicholas School of the Environment with a secondary
appointment in civil and environmental engineering in the
Pratt School of Engineering
“Corals have to know a lot about hydrodynamics in order
to survive. But we are still trying to unravel their secrets,”
said Professor Jim Hench. “Coral reefs occupy less than 0.2
percent of ocean floor and yet contain over 25 percent of
marine species.”

Despite their small stature, understanding these underwa-
ter ecosystems requires resolving highly complex fluid dy-
namics problems created by wave-driven flows at multiple
frequencies interacting with rough coral reef topography.

To obtain a full understanding of coral reefs and to make
accurate predictions within them, one must be able to solve
some form of the Navier-Stokes equations—a notoriously
thorny set of 3-D nonlinear partial differential equations.
These equations remain one the most important open prob-
lems in science and engineering. With regards to this prob-
lem, Hench recalls his PhD board advisor reminding him
that “despite [our] inability to solve these equations, the

2018 dukengineer 41


oceans integrate them daily with Professor Douglas Nowacek: Putting an Ear to the Ocean
Professor Douglas Nowacek is the Repass-Rodgers University
To predict how future changes Associate Professor of Conservation Technology in Environment and Engineering
may affect coral reefs, Hench’s lab
uses a combination of new theory Professor Nowacek first came to the Duke lution. To do so, they promoted the label-
derived from first principles and Marine Lab when he was sponsored by ling of ocean noise as a pollutant, which
new types of data to build more a grant to conduct research on worms has been used by international bodies like
predictive models. This creates the in 1990. After 18 years, he returned as a the European Union.
need for field measurements to not professor with a joint appointment at the
only test the model, but also chal- Nicholas School of the Environment and As a professor with joint appoint-
lenge its assumptions. the Pratt School of Engineering. Since ments in engineering and environment,
coming to Beaufort in 2008, his research Nowacek aims to bridge the gap between
Professor Hench travels to dif- has focused on employing engineering the two schools. He has been spearhead-
ferent coral reefs around the world principles in marine environments to ing an initiative to create opportunities for
to gather the needed data. One study mammal bioacoustics, behavioral interdisciplinary work in the field of ocean
of these places is Mo’orea in the ecology and conservation technology. engineering—a field fueled by the ever-in-
Society Island Archipelago in the creasing interests in the industrialization
South Pacific. While diving among Nowacek studies the effects of ocean of the oceans.
the reefs that surround the island, noise on whale and dolphin acoustic ecol-
his group deploys oceanographic ogy. “Ocean noise has been increasing by “There is a long-term potential for var-
sensors that ground-truth models three decibels per year, creating problems ious engineering job avenues, including
built to simulate ocean flow. Some for species that rely on sound for commu- marine robotics, offshore energy and ship-
of his future work involves mod- nicating, foraging and navigation,” ex- ping,” said Nowacek. One of his current
elling climate-change-induced ex- plained Nowacek. projects is the creation of an oceanic en-
treme wave events. gineering lab at Beaufort—a makerspace
In August 2015, Nowacek and his where students design, build and test their
“Climate change has no play- colleagues from eight universities and prototypes by the ocean. He hopes this will
book,” he said, referring to the environmental organizations published inspire more Pratt students to take a keen
complexity of predicting the effects their recommendations to minimize the interest in applying their engineering prin-
of climate change. n amount of underwater human noise pol- ciples in the marine environment. n

42 2018 dukengineer

Professor Zackary Johnson: At the Intersection of Marine Ecology and Biogeochemistry

Professor Zackary Johnson is an associate professor at the Duke University Marine Laboratory and earned his PhD
from Duke in 2000.

What is your research at the Marine Lab focused on? stantly building things—whether electronic, struc-
tural or involving water—so that we can measure or
The Johnson Lab broadly studies the abundance, di- create conditions to answer our scientific questions.
versity and activity of marine microbes. We are bio-
logical oceanographers, marine molecular ecologists, What opportunities do you think there are for engi-
marine microbiologists and biogeochemists. Our re- neers in your field of expertise?
search, which is at the intersection of marine ecology
and biogeochemistry, focuses on the marine cyano- There are numerous opportunities to build sensors,
bacteria Prochlorococcus—the most abundant phyto- algae growth systems and to analyze complex data sets
plankton in the open oceans and an excellent model from both engineered and natural systems.
marine microbe—as well as the biotechnological ap-
plications of marine microalgae. What are your future research plans?

How does engineering fuel your research? We are continuing both our algae bioproduct (sus-
tainable fuels and food) and microbial oceanography
As a trained engineer, I use engineering in our research research.
multiple ways. We use engineering approaches to an-
alyze complex datasets to tease apart proximal drivers Daniel Boey is a civil engineering
of the patterns that we see in nature. For both our and environmental science & policy double major
oceanography and biotechnology work, we are con-
from the Class of 2020. He is a certified
Emergency Medical Technician, drone pilot and diver.

2018 dukengineer 43


Event brings energy and fast pace of hackathons to students of all academic backgrounds
Oto generate blueprints for solutions to the world’s most pressing issues
n February 2-3, the Pratt student National Geographic, World Wildlife Fund,
group Duke Conservation Tech Duke Cancer Institute and dozens more to
(DCT) held the second Duke Blue- work with and mentor the 21 student teams
print Ideathon. As an “ideathon,” that participated in the weekend.
Blueprint brings the energy and extremely During the event, Alex Dehgan, CEO
fast pace of hackathons to students of all ac- of ConservationXLabs and The Chanler In-
ademic backgrounds, especially those who novator in Residence at Duke, described his
are intimidated by the technology experience at Blueprint by saying, “My ex-
focus of other events, to gener- perience here has been amazing, the amount
ate blueprints for solutions to the of energy, the amount of creativity, the ideas
world’s most pressing issues. Blue- people have had here at Blueprint are incred-
print pioneered this concept with ible. And they make me, in one word, opti-
the first Blueprint conference in mistic about the future of our ability to solve
January 2017 attracting just over the wicked challenges of conservation.”
100 attendees. While the experience of Blueprint was
Now, in its second year, the fulfilling for the mentors, their presence was
event was attended by 273 peo- also a unique opportunity for students. As
ple from around the country for one participant, Gaurav Uppal, pointed out,
a weekend of passionate problem “Blueprint allowed us to interact with faculty
solving and rapid prototyping and experts with whom we would not have
around some of the planet’s most the chance to connect in any other way.”
pressing issues. This included ex- Blueprint 2018 was supported by a total
perts in engineering, conservation, of 32 academic, corporate and non-profit
biology and medicine. Blueprint’s institutions. This widespread support includ-
mission is to bring together people ed Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering and
of varied backgrounds to address Nicholas School of the Environment, the
problems in a new way. As senior World Wildlife Federation, and Delta Air
Joshua Furth, ME’18, lead organiz- Lines, which served as the official airline of
er of the ideathons in both 2017 Blueprint, donating flights for the mentors.
and 2018, describes it, “Putting diverse per- A full list of Blueprint’s 2018 sponsors can be
The 21c Museum Hotel’s

trademark Fuschia Penguin spectives in such proximity drives valuable found at

attends the keynote talks insights, ideas and awareness. We believe this Duke Conservation Tech was founded by

at Blueprint. 21c spon- context leads to the most effective win-win mechanical engineering students Sam Kelly

sored the event, providing solutions.” and Connor Guest in 2015. Since then the

lodging for experts attend- Blueprint 2018 was themed “Nature + group has expanded to take on numerous

ing from out of town. Progress” and focused on reconciling the projects including low-cost, open-source ani-

natural world with the inevitability of hu- mal tracking technologies, drones to counter
man progress. DCT brought 36 expert men- poaching and fishing nets that prevent sea
tors and speakers from organizations such as turtle bycatch. The Blueprint events have

44 2018 dukengineer

TOP LEFT: Speaker and helped DCT to expand awareness of their saying, “I am extremely proud of the success-
mentor Eric Berkenpas work, recruit numerous new members and es of this year’s Duke Blueprint conference!
of the National Geo- develop ideas for ongoing projects. It was a pleasure to host a group of such
graphic Society works energetic and creative problem solvers. The
with a student team, “ScareHive,” a project initially conceived atmosphere at the event was electrifying and
helping them to refine by a team at the first Blueprint conference in contagious. We cannot thank all who partic-
the physical design of 2017, has continued on to active prototyping ipated and supported the event enough, and
their proposed device. with DCT’s support. The project, a low-cost, we hope everyone left with a sense of pride in
BOTTOM LEFT: One of gravity-powered device to protect rural crops the incredible blueprints they created!”
the event volunteers from elephant stampedes by replicating the
and DCT President and sound of swarming bees, was even fielded in While Josh will be graduating in May,
Founder Sam Kelly South Africa last summer with the support plans for Blueprint 2019 are already under-
(ME’18) looks over the and guidance of one of Blueprint’s sponsors, way with dates to be announced shortly. Next
work of a student team the US Army Research Office. year, Blueprint will not only take place at
while they take a break Duke. Under the leadership and guidance of
to attend a workshop on Similarly, the winning team from the the Duke team, Blueprint’s model for creative
design thinking. 2018 conference, “Algenie,” has already be- problem solving and a high-energy, fast-paced
RIGHT: Members of the gun working with ConservationXLabs, an- event will make its way to a number of other
winning student team, other Blueprint partner, to further refine and universities across the United States working
Algaenie, assemble a prototype their concept. Algenie’s concept on planning their own Blueprint events.
3-D-printed model of involves modular algae and a bivalve farm
their modular vertical that encourages biodiversity and captures Readers can learn more about DCT’s
algae farm. They created greenhouse gases, allowing commercial algae ongoing work at their website: dukecon-
the model during the to be grown in three dimensions, rather than, and videos of this year’s
event on 3D printers just across the surface of the water. Their Blueprint event as well as information about
in Duke’s Innovation goal is to design a farm that allows for quick future events at Duke and elsewhere can be
Co-Lab. and efficient production of algae and sea- found at
weed. This will simultaneously serve as feed
for cows to reduce methane production and Joshua Furth is a senior graduating
as a basis for superfoods. this spring with a degree in
mechanical engineering.
Josh Furth summed up the weekend by

2018 dukengineer 45


1940s engineering at George Wash- 2000s engineer in Maryland, Nevada
ington University in Washing- and Pennsylvania, and was the
Harold Ornoff E’45 reached ton, D.C. He has a secondary Melissa L. Desnoyers coordinating editor for the third
his 94th birthday! appointment as a visiting edition of Dewberry’s Land
research professor at the US E’01 and her husband, Development Handbook, a
1950s Naval Academy, where his Erik, welcomed their second textbook widely used in college
108-foot-long Navy research daughter, Emilia Marjorie engineering programs.
Edgar C. Fox, Jr. E’51 vessel is berthed. Murray and “Emma”, on July 9, 2016.
his wife Kebira Jehhar reside in Melissa continues working Greg A. Dann X’06 recently
attended his granddaughter’s, Greenbelt, MD. as global research manager, had his second child, now
Caroline Fox Ayanian’s, MICT for GE Healthcare driving two years old. He graduated
graduation (E’17) this spring. Debra M. Parrish E’85, clinical research with Duke from the University of
She is a third generation Duke University Medical Center and Pittsburgh with a JD/MBA in
engineer. Mr. Fox graduated L’89 received the American other academic sites across December 2014. He practices
E’51, her mother, Anne Fox Bar Association’s Pro Bono the globe. Melissa also serves law, tax and immigration in
Ayanian, graduated E’82, Award for 2017 for her work as corporate recruiting lead Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
and her uncle, Bradley Fox, advocating for Medicare for GE and Duke, recruiting He opened his solo practice on
graduated E’80. Mr. Fox was beneficiaries to have access to interns and full-time hires from August 1, 2016.
pleased to see three great new medical technologies and Duke into General Electric
professors that he had during treatment. businesses. Dr. Keigo Kawaji E’07 has
his years at Duke honored. accepted a BME faculty
They were Walter Seeley, Pete Perrone E’89, a former Lisa R. Betz E’02 has been appointment under the
Charles Vale and Otto Meir. Goldman Sachs executive, promoted to associate at Quantitative Biomedicine
They were truly excellent was named chief financial Dewberry’s Baltimore, MD initiative at Illinois Tech. BME
teachers. officer of the big data analytics office. Betz has been in the launched this initiative along
company, AtScale. industry for more than 15 the main axis of developing
John E. Larsen E’55 retired years. She is an experienced novel computational
in December 2016 from New 1990s site/civil project manager approaches to biomedical
Balance after 27 years but focused on total project problems, which aim to
continues in a limited capacity Linda M. Thomas E’97 consulting for multidiscipline, increase the sensitivity
as president emeritus. He land-based projects including and specificity of medical
remarried in 2015 after his received an award for the residential, commercial and diagnostics and provide new
wife Nancy passed away. He Applied Research for the industrial developments. insights into human disease
and his new wife (also Nancy) Advancement of Science She is currently involved states. Keigo obtained his
share time in Hingham, MA, and Technology Priorities in the ongoing work at the BA (Mathematics) and BSE
Mantoloking, NJ and Vero (ARAP) for the Defense Smithsonian Environmental (Biomedical Engineering) from
Beach, FL. Their combined Optical Channel Program. Research Center to provide Duke, followed by an MS and
family now numbers eight The $45 Million award funds improved infrastructure, PhD (Biomedical Engingeering)
children, 19 grandchildren and research in freespace optical including access and from Cornell. In 2012-13,
two great grandchildren. He communication and optical utility upgrades, and the he was a postdoctoral
continues to work with several time transfer at the tri-service Mattawoman Energy Power research fellow at Beth Israel
non-profit organizations but laboratories. Dr. Thomas is Plant, where the firm is Deaconess Medical Center &
saves some time to practice a senior research engineer developing lateral designs Harvard Medical School, and in
his declining sports abilities. at the US Naval Research for reclaimed water, gas 2014, a postdoctoral scholar
He is still learning to relax. Laboratory. The ARAP award and transmission lines. Betz at the University of Chicago
was given at the opening earned her bachelor’s degree Medical Center. He is currently
1980s ceremony for DOD Lab Day on in civil engineering from Duke a staff scientist and lead
May 18, 2017 at the Pentagon University in 2002 and is a
Murray R. Snyder E’82, a center courtyard. member of the Urban Land
retired Navy Submarine Cap- Institute. She is a professional
tain, continues as a professor
of mechanical and aerospace

46 2018 dukengineer

investigator of the Magnetic making notable contributions William B. Pearce, Sr. E’47 passed away peacefully on
Resonance Technology to their industries and August 15, 2017 at the age of 90 after a series of illnesses
Development Lab at the communities. over the preceding three months. A native of Greenville,
Department of Medicine of the SC, Bill grew up attending Buncombe Street UMC. He
University of Chicago. He is an Evan M. Reilly E’16 started graduated from Greenville High School in 1944, enlisting
expert in developing multiple work at Skanska in Durham, immediately afterward in the naval cadet (V-12) program
computational approaches NC, after transitioning off at Duke University. When the war ended, Bill transitioned
in MRI data acquisition, the Google Fiber project with to Duke’s Naval ROTC program, graduating with a degree in
image reconstruction and Bechtel. He is thrilled about mechanical engineering in 1947 and being commissioned
clinical post-processing. his new opportunity to work as an ensign in the U.S. Navy. Before reporting to his first
He has contributed in the for a company that has a duty station, he was discharged from the Navy as part
development and validation significant footprint on Duke’s of the post-war military draw-down. After working briefly
of novel quantitative MRI campus and around the globe. in industry, Bill enrolled in the industrial engineering
biomarkers, including tissue graduate program at Georgia Tech, obtaining a master’s
relaxivity, biomechanical strain InMemory degree in that discipline. Bill met his beautiful wife Betty
and perfusion reserve, as Anne, a native of Raleigh, NC, at Buncombe Street UMC
well as susceptibility-based in Greenville, where she sang in the choir. They married
measures that can derive at Edenton Street UMC in Raleigh in 1953. Their children
metabolic measurements for were born in Greenville in quick succession. After several
specific applications in the job-related moves in the early years, the family settled
brain and the heart, including in Pickens, SC, in 1961, attending Grace UMC, where
ischemic stroke and heart Bill served on the board and worked for Singer’s power
failure. Keigo joined Illinois tools division. In 1968, the family returned to Greenville,
Tech on January 1, 2018 as joining Aldersgate UMC, with Bill once again serving on the
an assistant professor of BME. congregation’s board while transitioning his career to the
His immediate research focus commercial construction industry. Professionally, Bill was
remains in the development an industrial engineering pioneer, being the first IE to take
of quantitative magnetic productivity improvement principles that were common
resonance-based biomarkers in manufacturing and applying them to commercial
for improved detection of construction. He further earned the “visionary” title by
tissue disease and damage introducing personal computers to commercial construction
in the brain and heart in vivo, job sites in the early 1980s as a way to track productivity
and on the clinical translation gains and manage his productivity improvement programs.
of the developed MR What seemed strange to the construction industry veterans
technologies through existing then is now a standard feature in that field. After the
and new collaborations. children left home, Bill and Betty Anne retired and returned
to Raleigh and Edenton Street UMC. For many years, Bill
2010s served as treasurer for the Francis Asbury Sunday School
class, in addition to many other service roles at ESUMC.
Maria M. Gibbs E’12 founded
Ivanti, a startup social venture Claud M. Dickerson E’50 passed away on Thanksgiving
for entrepreneurs in South Day 2015.
Bend, IN.
Ralph F. Spinnler E’61 passed away on Saturday, October
Caleigh A. MacPherson X’16 14, 2017.

was named a 2017 Rising Star Timothy C. Edwards E’76 passed away on March 19, 2016.
finalist, an honor for young
people in New Hampshire 2018 dukengineer 47


Dear Duke Engineering Alumni:ast year your Engineering Alumni Council asked for For more info on Bass Connections, visit https://bassconnec-
your feedback and we heard you loud and clear—
you want more opportunities to engage with other

Lalumni and current students. We have been hard at For more info on volunteering, visit https://duke.qualtrics.
work developing new and exciting ways for you to com/jfe/form/SV_afQOuJ6p1MZMYrr. To volunteer, visit (link to
engage, so if you’ve been considering getting involved but hav- qualtrics sign up form – see fields below).
en’t seen the right opportunity, now is your chance!
Be a Guest Lecturer or Participate in a Panel Discussion
The power of our Engineering alumni network is driven by Share your expertise with students through guest lectures or
all of you. We hope that you will consider signing up for one panel discussions. More information about opportunities is
of the opportunities below, as your engagement will help drive available here
an enriched experience for our current students and for other cruiting. For more info, visit
alumni. SV_1zDnxsyYZ1BTIGh.

Unless specifically noted otherwise, all opportunities can be Assist with Planning Engineering-Themed Events for Alumni in
remote and aren’t limited based on your geographic location. Your Region
Duke has established regional alumni boards in a number
If you have any questions, please contact Pam Hanson at of large geographic regions. If you’re interested in assisting
[email protected] to plan and execute events of interest to engineering alumni
in your region, volunteer to participate with your regional
Mentor a student: board. If you live in the Triangle NC region, please contact
Join Pratt’s new Vertical Mentoring Network where you will Bob Wescott ([email protected]) for additional info
be paired with a student or students to share your input on on the Triangle Area Pratt Alumni group. If you live in any
careers and life after graduation. For more info, visit http:// other region, please visit To volunteer, visit SV_724R9ptuPqdLhGt for more info on your regional Duke Alumni Association Board of Directors. Note that nomina-
tions are typically due annually in January, however you can
Student Project Board Member / Technical Advisor: contact your regional board leadership at any time to find
Serve as a technical advisor to one of the many extracurricular opportunities to get engaged.
student projects within the school of engineering. Advisors
assist teams with technical engineering questions and help Submit a nomination for the Engineering Alumni Council
connect them with other outside resources. For more info on The EAC works to develop strategies and programs to engage
student projects, visit: Pratt Alumni and serves as ambassadors of our great school.
groups Are you, or do you know, a passionate Engineering Alum?
Expectations for Council Membership are available at http://
For more info on volunteer responsibilities, visit http:// Please submit your nom-
inations by January 1 annually. To volunteer, visit https://duke.
Submit a nomination for an Engineering Alumni Award Do you know someone who is distinguished within their
field, a young alumna/us who is doing great things, or some-
Submit an idea for a Student Design Project: one who has served the Pratt School of Engineering immense-
Submit a real-world design challenge for a student design ly over their lifetime? We need to know about them! For more
course. Alumni also have the option to engage with students information about our awards or to submit a nomination,
as mentors as they develop and refine their design solutions. visit Awards
Ideas can be based on the alumni’s personal/work experi- are due by January 1 annually.
ence or outside ideas such as solutions for challenges faced
by non-profit organizations. For more info, visit http://pratt. Will Gardner, E’09, G’11 To volunteer, visit https://duke. President, Engineering Alumni Council President, Engineering Alumni Association

Advise a Bass Connections Project:
Serve as a technical advisor to a Bass Connections project
team. Advisors assist teams with technical engineering ques-
tions and help connect them with other outside resources.

48 2018 dukengineer

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