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Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture

Lab Safety Training

The Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture (VCEA), in partnership with WSU Environmental Health & Safety, created a specifically designed safety course to address the most common safety practices and areas of risk lab users may experience at WSU.

The course has been taken by numerous seasoned scientists, as well as those with no lab experience.  Both groups have noted they come away from the course pleasantly surprised at what they learned, and most make changes in their lab practices as a result.

VCEA strongly encourages all Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture personnel working or supporting a lab environment take this training, indifferent of their experience.

The training, already a requirement for any PACCAR lab user, provides an updated look at current lab practices in addition to three primary areas that influence risk within a lab.

  • Five Focus Areas and Chemical Compatibility
  • General Laboratory Safety and Hazard Communication
  • Dangerous Waste Generator, Chemical Storage, Emergency Response and Planning

The safety course is free of charge.

Community health analytics initiative gets underway

For most of the twentieth century, people didn’t worry about an illness like strep throat or an infected cut because they could go to the doctor for a quick dose of antibiotics, which was invariably followed by a quick recovery.

Behrooz Shirazi
Dr. Behrooz Shirazi

Slowly, however, microbes developed resistance to the miracle drugs, and in the United States, at least two million infections and 23,000 deaths are attributable to antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers in the School of Electric Engineering and Computer Science are leading a five-year, $4.9 million initiative to look at social determinants of antimicrobial resistance in human and animal populations. The initiative, called the Community Health Analytics Initiative (CHAI), will boost WSU’s ability to analyze extensive datasets known as “big data” and to promote information-based health care research. Supported by WSU, the multidisciplinary initiative, in partnership with the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, the College of Veterinary Medicine, the College of Medicine, and the College of Arts and Sciences, tackles the University’s Grand Challenges in health as well as equity and opportunity. The initiative, slated to become a University research institute, includes the establishment of a new graduate degree program in health analytics.

“Data science has been of great interest to the University, and this project is a natural outgrowth of that interest,” said Behrooz Shirazi, Huie-Rogers chair professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, who is leading the initiative. “The planned research institute brings together researchers in math and computing with the School of Global Animal Health
and the new College of Medicine to begin making sense of data that health care researchers have been and will
be collecting.”

Medicine has traditionally been done by looking at a patient’s symptoms, giving standard tests based on those symptoms, and then prescribing a standard dose of medicine. In addition, medical studies are often controlled experiments, which are limited, expensive, and time consuming, he said. Community-based analytics, on the other hand, allow researchers to find patient-specific information that would be very difficult to spot with traditional research methods in a large community and region—and oftentimes more quickly and cost effectively.

“We need to move away from the cookie cutter solutions we now have in medicine,” he said. “We want to get a lot more precise about patient data in the context of community information and develop more proactive public health solutions.”

The initiative will initially focus on antimicrobial resistance in Eastern Washington. The region provides an opportunity for a fresh way of looking at the problem since many studies have been focused in urban areas near academic medical centers.

Keeping Up With Kory

Kory O’Connor in WSU's Formula SAE race car

Mechanical engineering major Kory O’Connor is a man in motion.

Kory, how did you choose mechanical engineering as your major?

Since I was a kid, I loved taking things apart and figuring out how they worked. If there is something that is broken, I like to try and figure out how to fix it. I like to work with my hands and I liked things that moved and were powered with something – cars, robots, or anything that has motion – and mechanical engineering is the perfect match for that. » More …

Smart city living lab moves forward

Spokane at night

Washington State University has joined with six private and public partners on a formal agreement to develop Spokane’s University District into a smart city living laboratory.

“We’re excited to be part of this group that is leading smart city innovations for healthier people, safer neighborhoods, smarter infrastructure, and a more sustainable environment,” said Kim Zentz, director of WSU’s Engineering and Technology Management program, who is leading the project.

The group, which also includes Avista, the City of Spokane, Itron, McKinstry, and the University District Development Association, has signed a memorandum of understanding. The partners will align efforts to create a living laboratory for the design of cities of the future in the 770-acre University District, which is located north of I-90 and east of Division Street adjacent to Spokane’s downtown core.

Improving urban health, safety, sustainability

Kim ZentzKim Zentz

The newly named initiative,
 called Urbanova, formalizes a more than two-year effort to harness data to gain insights, empower people, and solve urban challenges in new ways. The living laboratory will operate on the principles of open architecture, standards-based open data and, open analytics. The focus is upon solutions that are replicable, scalable, and sustainable for cities of all types.

“This collaborative partnership allows us to develop high impact integrated solutions to infrastructure and health challenges of our urban environments while improving the livability and workability of cities,” Zentz said.

The partnership is already involved
 in several smart city pilot projects, including a smart and connected streetlight project and a “Shared Energy Economy” model. In it, the partnering entities will share energy assets—from solar panels and battery storage to traditional utility assets—to improve system efficiency and grid resiliency.

Many areas for WSU research

WSU is also supporting a $1.5 million smart city research grant. WSU’s initiative, which got underway this summer, is developing a framework to monitor, predict, and control energy and air
quality in the urban environment and record resulting health impacts in the University District.

The project includes researchers in WSU’s Energy Systems Innovation Center, the Laboratory for Atmospheric Research, and the Institute for Sustainable Design working with Urbanova partners. It initially calls for deploying a small network of air quality sensors in parallel with a smart and connected street lights pilot developed by Avista and Itron in the district.

The project aims to establish WSU as 
a center for research and analytics in the design, engineering, and application of smart systems that will serve and ensure healthy, resilient communities, said Anjan Bose, regents professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a WSU project co-leader.

“There are more and more people on the planet relying on urban infrastructure,” he said. “We can’t tear out and replace all of our infrastructure, but we have to increase its capability and make the most of the resources we have.”

Smart homes, smart energy use

WSU has a long history of work in smart environments. The Center for Advanced Studies in Adaptive Systems has been developing smart environment and smart home solutions since 2007. As part of a national effort to test new smart grid technologies, a group of WSU researchers worked with Avista Utilities on a five-year demonstration project to make Pullman the region’s first smart grid community.

Researchers in the Energy Systems Innovation Center are partnering with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Washington on a project to research, develop, and demonstrate technologies to create smart buildings, campuses, and cities to better manage energy use. The WSU team is installing photovoltaic modules on the Pullman campus and integrating them into WSU’s smart city test bed.

Source code

Gina Sprint helping a Cougar Quest participant write computer code.

The key to success, says WSU computer science professor Gina Sprint, is knowing what success means to you.

Gina, what do you do at WSU?

I teach introductory computer science classes and research sensor data mining for healthcare applications.

Why do you like teaching?

Teaching is fun! Every day I have the opportunity to interact with my students. In my UCORE Computer Science 111 (CptS 111) class, my students learn how to solve a variety of interesting problems by writing computer programs. » More …

Lab Safety Training

The Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture (VCEA), in partnership with WSU Environmental Health & Safety, created a specifically designed safety course to address the most common safety practices and areas of risk lab users may experience at WSU.

The course has been taken by numerous seasoned scientists, as well as those with no lab experience.  Both groups have noted they come away from the course pleasantly surprised at what they learned, and most make changes in their lab practices as a result.

VCEA strongly encourages all Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture personnel working or supporting a lab environment take this training, indifferent of their experience.

The training, already a requirement for any PACCAR lab user, provides an updated look at current lab practices in addition to three primary areas that influence risk within a lab.

  • Five Focus Areas and Chemical Compatibility
  • General Laboratory Safety and Hazard Communication
  • Dangerous Waste Generator, Chemical Storage, Emergency Response and Planning

The safety course is free of charge.

ROTC student builds upon national success

Samantha McNicholas

By Zahra Debbek, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture

“As a civil engineer, I can build the big picture.”

“Build” is a recurring word one hears when talking with Washington State University student, Samantha McNicholas.

McNicholas has been interested in engineering since her childhood, aspiring to be like her mother who is a software engineer. From a young age, the civil engineering major has used the best of her skills and abilities to build upon her achievements and rise to the top of her class. » More …

FIZ gives students a chance to do-it-yourself

Longboard created by Micah Peyron in Voiland College's Frank Innovation Zone (FIZ)

Micah Peyron wanted a longboard skateboard.

But, instead of buying one, she made it.

Now, she and other students are teaching each other important skills for their own projects, such as how to use band saws, sanders, drills, laser cutters, and 3-D printers, through the Frank Innovation Zone (FIZ). » More …

Making the grade: WSU online degrees rank among nation’s best

WSU Online Degrees Rank Among Nation’s Best

U.S. News & World Report has once again ranked the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture among the best online graduate engineering programs in the nation. With a nine point improvement from last year, it is among the top 30 programs of choice for those who want to earn an advanced degree and further their careers. » More …