Established in 2011 and under the direction of Mary Besterfield-Sacre, PhD, the Engineering Education Research Center's (EERC) strives to engage faculty in the integration of research-based practices to enhance their teaching, as well as to engage faculty in utilizing research to better understand learning of engineering. The vision of the EERC is to expand engineering education research and produce new approaches to learning that engage students. The Engineering Education Research Center's (EERC) mission is twofold: 1) enhance the teaching and learning of engineering within the Swanson School of Engineering; and 2) expand engineering education research efforts at the University.
The overarching goals of the EERC are to:
Nucleate the Swanson School of Engineering's (SSoE) strong research programs to educational innovations at the graduate, undergraduate, and K12 levels.
Conduct high quality engineering education research.
Foster opportunities for faculty and future faculty development in teaching excellence.
The center also has the following: 1. Director for Assessment, 2. Assistant Director of Professional Development, Director of Special Projects. In addition, we have a faculty who is associated with the center that is funded one summer month. These individuals help to operationalize certain school wide initiatives. One person works to help with professional development of future faculty, one person works to help foster innovation and entrepreneurship activities in the engineering school, and one person helps to assess new programs. These individuals are non-tenure stream faculty, who are supported to work beyond their teaching obligations on various STEM educational efforts. We also have two technicians that work for us - one for Flipping and Innovation/Entrepreneurship.
Engineering initiatives include:
New faculty and future faculty (grad students and post docs) development. We host workshops and seminar courses associated with preparing our next generation faculty. We are also members of the NSF CIRTL network and advertise to our faculty and future faculty opportunities to learn more about teaching in STEM.
Innovation and Entrepreneurship activities. We have revamped our product realization certificate in the SSOE and are getting faculty trained in Lean Launch Pad activities to incorporate in their core undergraduate classes. We also support a boot camp and various activities for engineering students throughout the academic year.
Flipping the classroom. We have a SSOE initiative to flip core classes in the Swanson School of Engineering.
Research in engineering education - we have a growing number of non-tenure stream teaching faculty who are actively writing proposals and conducting research in engineering education. The EERC provides mentoring assistance where needed. In addition, the center provides guidance and services to faculty writing proposals that needs assistance with assessment and evaluation, as well as implementing educational research (e.g., HS/IRB, conducting assessment and evaluation). We have several externally funded research grants in engineering education with faculty in the Swanson School of Engineering.
Faculty development and evaluation of a new joint institute with Sichuan University.
Elements Contributing to Success
We have a permanent center space with DL capabilities, and offices. We are within the SSOE main building and conveniently located.
Funds from the Dean to conduct initiatives with additional externally funded grants.Culture in the SSOE that although research is a high priority; education is also a high priority.
Assessment of our programming so that we can make improvements.
Directed by Judy Yang, PhD, the ETEM Catalysis Consortium (ECC) provides researchers at Pitt and beyond with managed and comprehensive access to the cutting-edge in situ electron microscopy tools and catalysis expertise needed to address the critical challenges in catalysis science.
Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) offers the unique ability to directly characterize the structure and chemistry of materials from micron- to angstrom-scale through a host of imaging, diffraction, and spectroscopic techniques. Unraveling the complex relationship between the structure of a nanocatalyst and its catalytic properties -- necessary for the development of predictive catalysis design -- requires time-resolved visualization while under operational conditions, since the dynamic state of these catalysts cannot generally be inferred from static post mortem examination. In situ capability also enables creating and examining interfaces where one or more sides are not solid: e.g., solid/gas, solid/liquid, and liquid/gas.
Dynamic systems need dynamic characterization: Environmental TEM (ETEM).
Pitt is home to one of only a handful of ETEMs in the US. The ECC serves as an interface to these unique and powerful instruments available at Pitt and ECC partner sites. Dedicated technical staff, experienced in both TEM and catalysis, aid customers interested in ETEM in designing and carrying out experiments. Assistance with data analysis and consultation on projects is also available. As the ECC grows, we are constantly expanding our offerings, particularly with the goal of complementing our extensive in situ microscopy characterization with computational modeling and reaction engineering support.
The Evolutionary Intelligence Laboratory in Electrical and Computer Engineering and under the direction of Prof. Yiran Chen and Prof. Hai (Helen) Li is a research laboratory the focus of which includes: nano-electronic devices, emerging and bio-inspired computing architecture, storage system and sensing technology, display technology and human-machine interaction, security theory of nano-devices, and embedded and mobile systems. The lab possesses 1) the testing equipment of semiconductor chip/circuits and mobile systems, such as probe station, power meters, power supplies, signal generator, spectrum analyzer, pattern generators, color composition analyze, etc.; 2) multiple Dell PowerEdge server, Convey Hybrid Core computing system, and tens workstations; 3) Android based smart phone testing platform; and 3) the complete state-of-the-art software for VLSI circuit and FPGA designs.
The Fiber Optics and Sensor Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh, under the direction of Kevin Chen, PhD, engages in interdisciplinary research in fiber optics and sensor applications for structural health monitoring, energy, and bio-medical research. In FOSL, research and development works are often carried out collaboratively with leading scientists and engineers across the globe and across industries. Our research partners include Naval Research Laboratory (US), University of Sydney (Australia), Institute of Photonics Technology (Jena, Germany), University of Toronto (Canada), Corning Inc. (US), Siemens North America, National Energy Technology Laboratory, Lakeshore Cryogenics Inc., etc. In FOSL, both passive fiber Bragg grating sensors and distributed feedback fiber lasers are produced in houses using a 248-nm KrF excimer laser using the phase mask technique. Sophisticate fiber sensor interrogation techniques have been developed for both point and distributed sensing from DC to 300-kHz acoustic frequency for structural health monitoring, power generation system managements, biomedical sensing, and etc. FOSL possess unique capabilities on high-temperature fiber sensors rated for above 800 o C operation. Working with our collaborators, FOSL researchers have wide access of air-hole microstructural fibers for sensing applications. FOSL is equipped with multiple optical spectrum analyzer, fusion splicers, high-resolution tunable lasers, broadband sources (to cover from 980 nm to 2000 nm). FOSL has board capabilities and expertise in fiber grating sensors and distributed fiber sensing using both Rayleigh and Brillioun scattering schemes. Working with industrial partners, our sensing expertise includes fiber sensing at both cryogenic and high temperature environments for space, energy, and environmental monitoring.
The Flow Visualization Laboratory occupies ~342 square feet and is under the direction of Dr. William Federspiel. It is well equipped with optical instruments, imaging systems, and apparatus for performing advanced flow visualization (qualitative and quantitative flow measurement, multiscale flow visualization) by using particle image velocimetry (PIV).
Directed by Minking Chyu, the Gas Turbine Heat Transfer Laboratory is equipped with advanced flow and heat transfer measurement facilities directed toward obtaining fundamental understanding and design strategies of airfoil cooling in advanced gas turbine engines.
Major experimental systems available include a particle imaging velocimetry, a computer-automated liquid crystal thermographic system, a UV-induced phosphor fluorescent thermometric imaging system, and a sublimation-based heat-mass analogous system. Specific projects currently under way include optimal endwall cooling, shaped-hole film cooling, innovative turbulator heat transfer enhancement, advanced concepts in trailing edge cooling, and instrumentation developments for unsteady thermal and pressure sensing.
The Geotechnical Engineering laboratory, under the direction of Luis Vallejo, PhD, is computer controlled. This includes static triaxial and direct shear apparatuses for both soils and rocks, a ring shear apparatus, a gyratory compactor, a dynamic triaxial apparatus, consolidometers, constant and variable head permeameters, a resonant column apparatus, an ultrasonic velocity testing apparatus, and a shaking table. In addition the laboratory houses standard equipment for Atterberg Limits determination, and grain size analysis.
Directed by Inanc Senocak, the research vision is to contribute toward the creation of a sustainable energy economy by providing innovative computational solutions to engineering problems that arise at the intersection of energy and environment. We work toward this vision by developing high performance computing solutions that transcend traditional disciplines. In our research, we integrate fundamentals of thermal and fluid sciences with computational mathematics and supercomputing. We routinely use parallel rendering and data analysis tools to elucidate the fundamental processes underlying the physical problem and improve our computational models.
The Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) is a joint effort between the University of Pittsburgh, the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, and UPMC Health System. HERL occupies approximately 40,000 square feet of laboratory and office space in the Bakery Square office and research complex in Pittsburgh's East End. Under the direction of Rory Cooper, PhD, HERL's Founder and Director, and Michael Boninger, MD, HERL's Medical Director and Director of the University of Pittsburgh's Model Center on Spinal Cord Injury (UPCM-SCI), HERL is dedicated to wheelchair and mobility research, specifically by improving the mobility and function of people with disabilities through advanced engineering in clinical research and medical rehabilitation. The laboratory, which was designated as a VA Center of Excellence for Wheelchair and Associated Rehabilitation Engineering (WARE), also studies such topics as athletics in rehabilitation, assistive housing and living spaces, the efficiency and effect of wheelchair transfers, clinician training, and force and vibration on a wheelchair user's "ride comfort." Besides its general research and office space, HERL houses a wheelchair-testing laboratory, a fully equipped machine shop, an ultrasound laboratory, and a robotics laboratory. HERL is partners with the Quality of Life Technology Center, funded by the National Science Foundation, and hosts various educational programs such as the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), Experiential Learning for Veterans in Assistive Technology and Engineering (ELeVATE), and the Fabrication of Assistive Technology (FATe) Program for Wounded Warriors.
The Human Factors Engineering (HFE) Laboratory is a team-based teaching and research laboratory for undergraduate and graduate students. The laboratory focuses on cognitive, ergonomic, and environmental aspects of human factors, and their influence on productivity and quality. The lab has a wide array of hardware and software to include Ergomaster for conducting ergonomic studies, Quest Canary Vapor Cloud Dispersion software for teaching energy isolation, as well as the University of Michigan 3 D strength prediction and energy expenditure prediction software, Minitab, SPSS and NVivo7 for data analysis.