College of Engineering's successes in 2023 gain international attention

Calendar Icon Feb 06, 2024          RSS Feed  RSS Submit a Story

A study by doctoral student Kazi Albab Hussain and Yusong Li gains international attention when it shows microwaving plastic baby food containers can release huge amounts of plastic particles. (Craig Chandler / University Communication and Marketing)
A study by doctoral student Kazi Albab Hussain and Yusong Li gains international attention when it shows microwaving plastic baby food containers can release huge amounts of plastic particles. (Craig Chandler / University Communication and Marketing)

As the College of Engineering neared the end of a $190 million multi-phase facilities project to build state-of-the-art hubs for undergraduate education and collaborative research, the work done throughout 2023 by the Nebraska Engineering community consistently caught the attention of readers around the world.

Media outlets across the globe maintained rapt attention to stories of research that revealed the past by unlocking the mysteries of a charred ancient scroll, made our present-day lives safer by exposing the dangers of microwaving plastic baby food containers, and literally looked to build the future by possibly growing bricks on Mars to using hemp plants to build greener, sustainable masonry blocks.

Successes and milestones within the College of Engineering also include:

  • Five National Science Foundation Early Career Award Program grants; 
  • The first-ever named deanship for the College of Engineering; 
  • New directors for the School of Computing and Biological Systems Engineering; 
  • Grants that retain Nebraska as a world leader for transportation safety research; and 
  • Faculty, students and staff giving back to our communities, state, nation and the world through educational and outreach programs, volunteer efforts and engineering solutions that make our daily lives better.

Here is a look at some of the big 2023 stories from the College of Engineering:


The Master of Engineering Management program surges near the top of U.S. News & World Report rankings.

The Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program ranked ninth in the 2023 U.S. News & World Report's rankings of Best Online Master's in Engineering Programs, and sixth in the same category for veterans. – Jan. 24

Mark Stone is selected as the new head of the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, succeeding David Jones. – Jan. 27

The College of Engineering is among the first group of institutions across the U.S. to achieve Silver Award status within the American Society for Engineering Education Diversity Recognition Program. – March 8

Daniel Linzell, associate dean of graduate and international programs, is selected as director of the National Science Foundation Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation. – March 10

The College of Engineering adds eight faculty for the 2023-24 academic year, increasing total faculty hires to 75 over a seven-year span. – Sept. 1

The Nebraska Industrial Assessment Center, which since 2017 has helped 80 manufacturers save more than $8.7 million on energy costs, is the U.S. Department of Energy's 2023 IAC of the Year. – Sept. 5

Witawas (Witty) Srisa-an is appointed director of the School of Computing, succeeding founding director Marilyn Wolf, who was named director for engineering and technology initiatives in the UNL Office of Research and Economic Development. – Sept. 13

first-ever named deanship is established for the College of Engineering through the generosity of alumnus and lead benefactor Fred Hunzeker; Dean Lance C. Pérez will be the inaugural recipient. – Dec. 19


The 2023 People's Choice Award at the 2023 Senior Design Showcase went to a mechanical engineering team of Grant Meyer, Caleb Osmond, Merjen Palvanova, Ryan Salisbury and Samuel Whitney for its project -

With projects reflecting real-world professional challenges, environments and collaborations with industry clients, student teams present their senior design capstone projects at the Senior Design Showcase. – May 19

Forty first-year engineering students – including 11 based on Scott Campus – are chosen to the 2023 cohort of Peter Kiewit Foundation Engineering Academy - it's second cohort. – Sept. 15

Ten first-year students are added to the Kiewit Scholars Program, the third cohort since the program's inception in 2021. – Sept. 21


Keegan Moore, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering, will use high speed cameras to capture the interface contact conditions — the surfaces the bolts hold together. (Craig Chandler / University Communication and Marketing)

Using artificial intelligence, Mona Bavarian seeks to develop an advanced manufacturing platform for polymer coatings. – Feb. 27

Mohammad Ghashami is developing methods of turning excess heat generated by electronic devices into energy that could power multi-body systems.– April 14

Working to develop a truly "smart home," Hongzhi Guo is developing wireless communications technology that would create a digital twin of a home and track everyday items such as clothes and food. – May 29

Keegan Moore is studying how the loosening of bolts happens over time and how it might be prevented. – June 9

By studying the effects of significant flooding events, like the 2019 eastern Nebraska floods, Jongwan Eun seeks to enable better predictions of how frozen soil conditions may affect the severity of flooding. – Oct. 18


Shudipto Dishari helps Rafael López (left) and Sreyan Saha (right) as they play with cars powered by green energy using biomaterials. Dishari, the Ross McCollum associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, recently began work on a three-year, $489,134 grant from the National Science Foundation that could revolutionize the way devices produce, transport and store electricity. (Craig Chandler / University Communication)

Researchers from the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility and Nebraska Engineering continue development of a modified guardrail system for U.S. Transportation Command through a new $800,000 contract award. – Feb. 17

Shudipto Dishari designs polymers to create more environmentally friendly, efficient sources of energy, particularly hydrogen-based fuel cells that emit only water. – March 8 

Through a new NSF grant, Nirnimesh Ghose explores improving security through radio fingerprinting, an authentication technique that helps identify individual devices. – March 20

Marc Maguire leads a team developing hemp-based masonry blocks that are environmentally friendly and sustainable while meeting construction standards. – March 24

The Nebraska Intelligent MoBile Unmanned Systems Lab receives nearly $2 million supporting work on an integrated suite of robotics and drone technologies. – March 27

Concerned about the dangerous effects "forever chemicals" have across the planet, Nirupam Aich is developing ways to lessen their impact. – April 7

By melting a polymer and watching it cool through the lenses of light and X-rays, Lucía Fernández-Ballester’s team discovers hidden depths in a material hundreds of times thinner than a human hair. – April 28

Work studying defects lands both Bai Cui and Piyush Grover grants from the Defense Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. – June 29

EQUATE grants support Abedlghani Laraoui and a pair of multidisciplinary teams seeking ways to better see into the nanoscale and harness possibilities of the quantum realm. – July 6

Mehmet Can Vuran and his team address highly complex and evolving challenges for the Department of Defense regarding use of the electromagnetic spectrum. – July 20

A study by doctoral student Kazi Albab Hussain and Yusong Li gains international attention when it shows microwaving plastic baby food containers can release huge amounts of plastic particles. – July 21

Vinodchandran Variyam and a group of colleagues turned an idea sparked during a dinner conversation into an algorithm that could potentially change mass data analysis. – August 26

Four high-impact research projects in the College of Engineering gain funding through the second Grand Challenges Catalyst Competition. – August 29

With water stress in the High Plains threatening agriculture and rural communities, Seunghee Kim and Saleh Taghvaeian seek ways to improve soil moisture preservation and climate resilience. – Sept. 5

The Mid-America Transportation Center wins a five-year, $15 million grant to remain the transportation research and workforce development hub for the U.S. Department of Transportation Region 7. – Sept. 7

Massimiliano Pierobon’s team is awarded a $24.5 million contract to develop a first-of-its-kind prophylactic to help protect U.S. troops from the effects of acute radiation syndrome. – Sept. 11

Sasitharan Balasubramaniam is teaming with Irish researchers in using the internet to study microbial communication and activity patterns to better understand bacterial behavior and connect living bacteria to their digital twins. – Oct. 4

By controlling the placement and types of defects in nanowires, Eli Sutter and Peter Sutter are setting the stage for electronic technology to optimize new advantages the imperfections offer. – Oct. 11

A new NSF grant allows Leen-Kiat Soh to expand his work on a previous artificial intelligence project focused on automating task planning for complex scenarios. – Oct. 13

By looking to create quieter environments, Abdelghani Laraoui’s team hopes to quiet some of the “noise” to make quantum computing more efficient, accessible and feasible. – Oct. 19

Ruiguo Yang and Grayson Minnick are crafting smaller lenses, some narrower than a human hair, whose size and optical properties can be modified in seconds when subjected to certain stimuli. – Oct. 20

An NSF grant supports Shudipto Dishari's research using recycled Christmas trees and corn plants to create polymers that could make electrochemical devices greener and more efficient. – Oct. 20

Seunghee Kim is one of the leaders of a team studying the economic and practical feasibility of using recycled concrete as a building material and carbon sequestration source. – Oct. 27

A new technique employed in Joe Turner’s laboratory has allowed researchers to better understand how plant cells respond to environmental changes to control the flow of gases and liquids. – Nov. 3

As the world looks toward a future in space, Santosh Pitla, Yufung Ge and David Jones are on a quest to establish the first center for space agriculture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. – Nov. 6

Mohammad Hasan’s team finds that integrating AI-based interventions can help undergraduate students succeed in STEM courses. – Nov. 14

Dung Hoang Tran works to develop a verification tool that will make autonomous vehicles and other robotics machinery both safer and smarter. – Nov. 16

first-of-its-kind laser in the Center for Electro-Optics and Functionalized Surfaces allows the use of a specialized method of surface modification that could improve manufacturing methods. – Nov. 30


Lily Wang, director of the Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction and renowned acoustical engineer, was selected as one of SWE Magazine's

Wei Qiao is elected as a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors – Feb. 17

Stuart Bernstein, Shudipto Dishari, George Gogos and Jerry Hudgins are among 23 UNL faculty and staff to receive annual awards from the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor. – March 27

Nineteen engineering faculty are among 93 at UNL selected to receive promotion and/or tenure.– April 17

Jerry Hudgins, Srivatsan Kidambi and Yongfeng Lu are appointed as National Strategic Research Initiative Fellows. – April 21

Lily Wang is selected as one of SWE Magazine's 2023 "Women Engineers You Should Know." – May 19

George Gogos is appointed director of the Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research, replacing Jerry Hudgins. – August 23

Justin Bradley, Shudipto Dishari, George Gogos and Rajib Saha are awarded named professorships in the College of Engineering. – August 28

Shudipto Dishari is honored by the American Chemical Society and its Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering division with a 2023 Early Stage Investigator Award. – Sept. 5

Brittany Duncan and Marc Maguire are recognized with Innovator Awards during the 2023 NUtech Ventures Innovator Celebration. – Nov. 17


Mohammad Ghashami (left), assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering, speaks with LPS teachers at Morrill Hall. (University Communication and Marketing)

Engineering researchers are among 22 UNL research groups that share their work with 150-plus Lincoln Public Schools science teachers, aiming to bolster science education in grades 6-12. – August 11

Inspired while in high school to pursue engineering at UNL, Cody Stolle is now doing research at the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility that saves lives on U.S. military bases and on the world's roadways. – Sept. 15

Shuai Nie and Yijie Xiong are part of an all-women team bridging the digital divide by designing a hybrid broadband communication system for rural communities in Nebraska. – Oct. 23

In the annual Nebraska Lecture, Shannon Bartelt-Hunt discusses the inspiration she found during the COVID-19 pandemic to develop wastewater-based tracking to document the spread of diseases. – Nov. 14


Engineering students accept the 2023 award for Best Engineers Week celebration from the National Association of Engineering Student Councils at their Engineering Leadership Summit, March 24-25 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The National Association of Engineering Student Councils awards the 2023 Best Engineers Week celebration to the college’s two engineering student advisory boards in Lincoln and Omaha.– March 31

Oghenetega Allen Obewhere, a doctoral student in chemical engineering, receives a Grad Brag Award at the annual National Society of Black Engineers Annual Convention. – April 17

Three engineering student-led startups earn NUtech and Nebraska Engineering funding. – April 19

A team of architectural engineering students earns three awards at the Architectural Engineering Institute International Student Design Competition. – April 21

Nebraska Engineering students Zachary Wallenburg and Amber Tannehill are key contributors for a second consecutive year as the UNL Debate Team repeats as national champion. – April 28

Andrew Donesky and Mark Nusterer receive UNL Student Luminary Awards to recognize their exceptional leadership and commitment to improving the campus and community. – May 5

Sixteen engineering students are recognized as UNL Chancellor’s Scholars – 13 at the Spring Commencement, one at the Summer Commencement, and two at the Fall Commencement – for maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average on all college work. – May 19, Aug. 10, and Dec. 12

Aerospace Club teams cap off successful spring competitions with the NASA Robotic Mining Challenge. – May 24

Meredith Sutton is selected to the Voices for Science fellow cohort, whose participants conduct outreach activities in local communities to educate general audiences about science and engineering. – June 7


Luke Farritor, a senior majoring in computer science in the Raikes School, is shown with superimposed Greek text from a nearly 2,000-year-old scroll that his work helping to decipher. (Craig Chandler / University Communication and Marketing)

Mia Toigo, a sophomore majoring in civil engineering, details how she earned a valuable internship through the UNL Career Fair. – Feb. 22

As part of a service-learning focus, Nebraska Engineering students work at the Bike Kitchen, repairing donated bicycles that become free “new” rides for area youth and adults in need. – April 12

Four students – Sarah Altman, Andrea Goertzen, Kasey Moomau and Stephanie Perez – earn National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. – April 14

A team of mechanical engineering students gains real-world experience designing an exhibit that will allow visitors to the SAC Museum to simulate what it was like to fly on a B-36, one of the world's largest combat aircraft. – June 16

Before heading off to a NASA internship, Matthew Bigge misses his graduation in May, but for a good reason: he is part of a Nebraska Engineering team competing in the NASA SUITS Artemis Student Challenge at Johnson Space Center. – August 3

Maryam Sule, a scholar in the 2022 inaugural cohort of the Peter Kiewit Foundation Engineering Academy, spends part of her summer in the Rural Fellows program, working on projects at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. – August 8

Luke Farritor becomes the first person in almost two millenia to read a word from a scroll that was charred in the aftermath of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Farritor discusses the international attention and his quest to develop more AI-based programs that can read and decipher ancient scrolls. – Oct. 18, Nov. 20

Submit a Story