College of Engineering in the news

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How to make sure your water filter really removes lead

A problem with high levels of lead in Newark’s drinking water led the city last year to distribute water filters to residents. But that plan hit a snag this week when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alerted the city that drinking water in two of three homes it tested still had high levels of lead, despite the filters. The EPA advised Newark residents to stop drinking tap water and urged the city to supply bottled water instead (though that solution also ran into problems when the city learned some of the water had passed its expiration date). Filters certified to remove lead must undergo rigorous testing by NSF or other labs. The Water Quality Association, for instance, tests the filters with water contaminated at 150 parts per billion—10 times higher than the EPA’s action level of 15 ppb. Researchers in Flint even pushed filters to the extreme, testing with water contaminated to 1,000 ppb, and found they still removed all lead from the water. The filters distributed in Newark were activated carbon filters certified to remove lead. But not all filters can do that. “Activated carbon has a lot of surface area with nooks and crannies where chemicals can stick,” says Shawn McElmurry, a Wayne State University professor who did extensive field research during the Flint water crisis. “But it’s not infinite.” To add to the chaos, McElmurry says there could be other contaminants in the water competing for those attachment sites. And if some of those contaminants have more mass or energy, they could knock some lead loose—like throwing softballs at your Velcro wall of tennis balls. Faucet-mount filters, like those used in Flint and Newark, typically cost $20 to $40 and require several installation steps that can go awry. “These filters are not easy to get onto the faucets,” McElmurry says. “We found that a lot of people in Flint with arthritis or poor motor function in their hands couldn’t attach them.” 
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Michigan Mobility Institute begins crafting curriculum in partnership with Wayne State

Michigan Mobility Institute executive director Jessica Robinson says the process of creating a first-of-its-kind Master of Mobility degree is "well underway," thanks to the institute's new partnership with Wayne State University. The institute made headlines earlier this year when it announced its intention to create the high-level educational credential in mobility. Robinson says Wayne State's College of Engineering was an ideal inaugural educational partner to collaborate with in creating the coursework and formal structure for the degree. Wayne State's existing dual focus on both cutting-edge research work and connecting its grads to jobs in the field also is a plus. WSU professors are already working on classes that are applicable to next-generation mobility careers, which will form an important base upon which to build a regimen of highly specialized mobility coursework. Wayne State will provide the Michigan Mobility Institute's physical campus for the time being. Other space needs may arise with time, and if they do Robinson says the institute will work with WSU and other partners to create them.
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Wayne State University, Michigan Mobility Institute launch new mobility center

Wayne State University and the Michigan Mobility Institute announced their collaborative design of the Center for Advanced Mobility and curriculum on Monday. The expanding engineering curriculum will offer programs focusing on "autonomous driving, connectivity, smart infrastructure and electrification," according to a news release from the Center for Advanced Mobility at Wayne State University. The center will be part of the university's Industry Innovation Centers and is set to launch in the fall. "This will be a leading global center for the future of mobility," said Farshad Fotouhi, dean of the College of Engineering. "The Center for Advanced Mobility will be the epicenter for academic and startup activity in the mobility sector for students, researchers, and global corporate partners in Detroit." The college also plans to offer a Master of Science in Robotics in the fall of 2020.
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Water stays in the pipes longer in shrinking cities – a challenge for public health

Shawn P. McElmurry, Wayne State University associate professor of civil and environmental engineering; Nancy Love, University of Michigan professor of civil and environmental engineering; and Richard Jackson, professor emeritus of environmental health sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, wrote an article for The Conversation. “The geographic locations where Americans live are shifting in ways that can negatively affect the quality of their drinking water. Cities that experience long-term, persistent population decline are called shrinking cities. Urban shrinkage can be bad for drinking water in two ways: through aging infrastructure and reduced water demand. Major federal and state investments in U.S. drinking water occurred after the World Wars and through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund created by the 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. Many of the pipes and treatment plants built with those funds are now approaching or have exceeded the end of their expected lifespan. Shrinking cities often don’t have the tax base to pay for maintenance and replacement needs. So the infrastructure, which is largely underground, out of sight and out of mind, deteriorates largely outside of the public eye…Despite all its accomplishments, the Safe Drinking Water Act is an imperfect law. Simply relying upon and then communicating about a water quality parameter that “meets all regulatory standards” – as per the law – is an inadequate way to communicate about water quality, as you can see in Flint.”
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Michigan Mobility Institute, Wayne State partner on advanced mobility curriculum

The Michigan Mobility Institute announced the world’s first advanced mobility education curriculum for the sector Tuesday in partnership with Wayne State University’s College of Engineering. The organizations said in a joint Tuesday announcement that they’ll begin developing programming to power mobility careers in the months ahead. Kim Trent, chair of the Wayne State University Board of Governors, said in a statement that the partnership with the Michigan Mobility Institute could help extend Detroit’s 100 years of history in mobility innovation into the 21st century and beyond. “I couldn’t be more thrilled that the futurists behind the Detroit Mobility Lab and the Michigan Mobility Institute have chosen Wayne State as their partner. This Institute will make our university a world leading center for cutting-edge thinking and leadership for this critically important emerging sector.” Wayne State’s College of Engineering offers a graduate certificate in cyberphysical systems, a program in electric drive vehicle engineering and a newly developed master of science degree in data science and business analytics. “Together we are poised to create something very special as we embark on a shared mission to create the premiere institution focused on educating the mobility engineer of the future,” Farshad Fotouhi, dean of the College of Engineering and computer science professor said. 
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How technology is bridging gaps between healthcare and underserved populations

Steven Ondersma discovered that "only a very small proportion, maybe 10 percent" of the people who need professional care realize that need and have the means to address it. "I've just become really interested in having whole-population effects, rather than helping a few people who might be ready to make use of the treatment and have access to that treatment," says Ondersma, deputy director of the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute at Wayne State University. Ondersma and others in Michigan who are interested in addressing the social determinants of health have increasingly turned to technology as an answer to that question. Weisong Shi, professor of computer science at Wayne State envisions the potential for technology to bring a doctor's office to those more remote patients. He proposes a vehicle, "just like an ice cream truck," that would allow people to get basic physical tests in their communities, with the results being transmitted back to a provider's office. "You can go to this rural area and ... run these checks without asking these people to drive about 50 miles away to go to a hospital to do this kind of test," Shi says. Asthma disproportionately affects African-Americans nationwide, but in Detroit the problem is particularly pronounced – and often an emergency situation. Karen MacDonell, associate professor in Wayne State’s School of Medicine, has been using technology to improve those outcomes with the Detroit Young Adult Asthma Project. Funded by a series of National Institutes of Health grants, MacDonell began the project over 10 years ago by interviewing young African-American Detroiters about their asthma. She asked participants what strategies would help them adhere to their medication before an emergency arose. "Long story short, they wanted something using technology – something they could have with them, something easy to manage, something brief," she says. MacDonell developed a text messaging program that collects information about a patient's asthma and then sends the patient conversational messages encouraging medication use.
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Mother of 8 to graduate from Wayne State with engineering degree

Najat Machiche is a wife, working mom of eight kids and is now graduating with an engineering degree from Wayne State University.  “I go to work, I drop off the kids at school, I come from work, I go exercising, I take my kids to do activities, I cook for my kids,” she said describing a typical day. Najat has been going to Wayne State University to achieve her life-long dream of getting an electrical engineering degree. “It’s my second chance here," she said. She’s a working mom who decided to go back to school five years ago when her father came to visit from Morocco, where her entire family still live. 

Wayne State smart manufacturing center partners with HERE Technologies

Wayne State University and HERE Technologies have announced an agreement to partner on various industry projects, create education curriculums, and develop solutions with other technology providers at the Wayne State Smart Manufacturing Development Center (SMDC). “Wayne State University is at the heart of Detroit’s resurgence. The campus is growing, the curriculums are being tuned to the needs of the future workforce and we’re aligning to new industry principles such as Industry 5.0,” said Joseph Kim, professor of industrial & systems engineering at Wayne State University. “HERE’s expertise in navigation and location will help us bring practical experiences and real-life business situations to students and provide them an opportunity to see how location technology is applied to customers in the industrial sector.” 
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Wayne State to offer artificial intelligence certification courses

Wayne State University is partnering with Ann Arbor’s Amesite Inc., an artificial intelligence software company, to create new online professional certificate programs intended to further skills in artificial intelligence and blockchain. The programs are tailored to those in engineering, law, health care, accounting, and business. “These training modules are being developed to address the gap that exists between academia and industry,” says Farshad Fotouhi, dean of the College of Engineering at WSU. “Our expert instructors, in conjunction with Amesite staff members, will deliver the six-week courses and be available to answer any questions the participants may have.” One of the classes, Blockchain: Cutting Edge Data Management, will teach students the fundamentals of data storage, including security and privacy issues, regulatory questions, and ways to increase efficiency and reduce costs. The class starts March 18 and runs through April 21.
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Macomb County's 'fatberg' donated for research at Wayne State University

“Although FOG blockages have been known for many years, our understanding of their detailed chemical structure and formation mechanisms is lacking due to limited real-time and in-place data,” Carol Miller, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of Healthy Urban Waters at Wayne State University, said. “The formation and planned removal of such a massive FOG blockage presents a rare opportunity to study these formations, and funding received from the National Science Foundation will help our efforts in this regard," said Miller. 
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$1M grant to fight Great Lakes growing microplastic problem

Could the solution to microplastic pollution come from Wayne State University? Principal researcher Yongli Zhang, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, certainly hopes so. With the help of a recently awarded grant totaling $929,000 from the Great Lakes Protection Fund, Zhang will lead a team of engineers and biologists in mitigating the micro-contaminants from entering the water. "The issue of plastic pollution, and more specifically microplastic pollution, is beginning to get more attention," said Zhang in a press release. "However, this is still a relatively new issue for more people, and a great deal of research and outreach is still needed to make positive changes to public awareness and engagement.”
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Cardiosound wades into blood pressure monitoring

Turning a university research project into a for-profit company typically takes a veteran of the startup ecosystem, someone familiar with defining market opportunity and figuring out how to find customers in that market and make them pay for what you have. That was true for Cardiosound LLC, which formally launched in August. The company grew from efforts by Gaurav Kapur, a physician and associate professor of pediatrics at Wayne State, to find a better way to measure blood pressure, particularly in infants, where current methods are notoriously inaccurate. Kapur reached out to some colleagues at WSU — Sean Wu, a professor of mechanical engineering; Yong Xu, a professor of electrical and computer engineering; and William Lyman, a professor of pediatrics.
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Wayne State announces $5M gift, new testing lab

As a graduate of the Wayne State University’s College of Engineering, Avinash Rachmale has had an ongoing relationship with the school. He started a business locally, hires Wayne State graduates and sits on the college’s Board of Visitors. That relationship grew Thursday with the university announcing that Rachmale and his wife, Hema, have donated $5 million to the College of Engineering for scholarships and a new testing laboratory.
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NSF award to provide new insights on how drinking water and public health systems interact

A research team at Wayne State University recently received a four-year, $1.57 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for its project, “Water and Health Infrastructure Resilience and Learning.” The award is part of a multi-institutional $2 million collaborative project funded under NSF’s Critical Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Systems and Processes program.

Turkey's new vice president sworn into office

Turkey's first vice president Fuat Oktay was sworn into office in the parliament on Tuesday. Oktay, born in 1964 in Turkey's central Anatolian Yozgat province, served as the head of the Prime Ministry's Disaster and Emergency Management Agency from January 2012 to June 2016. From June 2016 until now, he has served as undersecretary in the Prime Ministry. Oktay earned a bachelor's degree in business studies from Cukurova University in 1985. He finished his master's degree in manufacturing engineering and business studies in 1990 at Wayne State University in the U.S.