YEAR IN REVIEW: 2017 brings growth and innovation

YEAR IN REVIEW: 2017 brings growth and innovation

Calendar Icon Jan 02, 2018          RSS Feed RSS

The calendar year 2017 brought plenty of growth, innovation and honors to the College of Engineering and its students, faculty and staff.

Among these notable moments are:

The college added 10 new faculty, increasing its total faculty hires to 56 over the past three years.

For the 11th straight academic year, the college set a record for undergraduate enrollment, helping push the university as a whole to its third straight year of record enrollment.

Debuting in October, two new buses serve as the primary N-E Ride shuttles for the college, carrying students and employees between City and Scott Campuses in Lincoln and Omaha, respectively. The updated design includes WiFi, a wheelchair lift and other amenities, and is open to anyone with an NU ID. 

Mark Riley, who was head of the Biological Systems Engineering Department, began his appointment as Associate Dean for Research in the college on July 1, 2017.


Angela Pannier, associate professor of biological systems engineering, received a 2017 National Institutes of Health Director's New Innovator Award and is the first University of Nebraska-Lincoln researcher to earn this honor. The award supports Pannier's work to develop novel methods that improve use of adult stem cells in gene therapy, a promising tool for treating a variety of diseases.

A team of students, as part of their senior design capstone Go Baby Go project, updated the renovation of electric toy cars that give mobility challenged toddlers more autonomy over their movements.


Yuguo Lei, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, earned the NUTech Ventures Emerging Innovator of the Year award for his invention of novel devices for cell manufacturing that can be used for personalized medicine.

Out of the Darkness, a second-year student organization formed by chemical engineering major Shelby Williby, received a national award by the American Federation for Suicide Prevention after it finished among the nation's best in raising funds via a suicide awareness walk.

Working on a Department of Defense contract, researchers at the Biological Process Development Facility and two other universities are focusing on cyberbiosecurity and vulnerabilities and security of critical life science information.


Chris Tuan, professor of civil engineering, and the conductive concrete he designed were featured Jan. 14 on the CBS Saturday morning show, "The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation." Tuan's research was also featured in numerous news articles around the world.

Jinying Zhu, assistant professor of civil engineering, has designed emerging technology to make bridges safer by using acoustics to detect defects in concrete bridge decks.


The expertise and resources at Nebraska’s Holland Computing Center helped researchers around the world study the collision of two neutron stars

Three faculty -- Matthew Dwyer, Sebastian Elbaum and Gregg Rothermel -- were named to AMiner’s Most Influential Scholars list for the field of software engineering, and the UNL program ranked fifth.

An NSF CAREER Award will help Hongfeng Yu, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, support his work to develop new techniques to greatly expand network visualization capabilities.


Lily Wang, professor of architectural engineering, was named president-elect of the Acoustical Society of America for the 2017-18 term. Wang also serves as associate dean for graduate programs and faculty development in the college. She will serve as ASA president in 2018-19.

Terri Norton, associate professor of construction engineering, is part of a team of faculty from three universities that received a NSF INCLUDES grant to increase STEM education for underrepresented groups and to contribute to disaster research.


Ming Han, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, developed what he calls, “a tiny furnace” – or more specifically, a laser-heated, silicon-tipped, fiber-optic device that can approach 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, going from room temperature to 300 degrees in fractions of a second.

Yongfeng Lu, professor of electrical and computer engineering, received the University of Nebraska's ORCA Award for outstanding research or creative activity of national or international significance.


Sidy Ndao, assistant professor, and doctoral student Mahmoud Elzouka developed a thermal diode that turns heat into an alternative energy source for computers, which have traditionally been averse to heat. This device would allow for computing at ultra-high temperatures.

Nebraska engineers, led by Li Tan, associate professor, and colleagues from China have designed a microphone-like device with unparalleled sensitivity to low-frequency sound waves that can propagate miles below the ocean's surface.

Materials engineers Bai Cui and Jian Wang at UNL’s Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research are developing radiation-tolerant nanomaterials that are self-healing and could extend the durability of metals used at nuclear reactors.


A team headed by three college faculty, from the departments of mechanical and materials engineering and civil engieering, were awarded a $1.4 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to set up the Nebraska Industrial Assessment Center, which will help small manufacturers use energy efficiently and train engineering students in energy management and manufacturing processes.


The Fountain Wars team continued its run of excellence with a second-place finish at the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) Annual International Meeting. Since 2014, the Nebraska Fountain Wars team has earned two national championships and two second place trophies in this competition.

A team from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, including five engineering students, was honored with a gold medal at the International Genetic Machine (iGEM) Foundation Giant Jamboree, an international conference and competition in November in Boston. More than 200 interdisciplinary teams from around the world competed. 

Nebraska chemical engineering students took 10th place in the Chem-E-Car competition in October at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) National Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In April, the Nebraska team won its regional competition in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Two student teams from The Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction combined for three first-place finishes and five runner-ups in seven categories at the 2017 Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) Student Design Competition in April at the group’s annual conference in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.