Engineering Students Selected to Present at PA State Capitol

Two College of Engineering students — Anthony Trezza and Nathan Deffenbaugh — will present their research at the 12th Annual Undergraduate Research at the Capitol—Pennsylvania Poster Conference in Harrisburg on Tuesday, March 11, 2014.

Nathan Deffenbaugh, biomedical engineering, will present his research project titled High Resolution Tracking of Single-molecule Kinesin Motor Proteins by TIRF Microscopy. Kinesins are intracellular molecular motors and play a critical role in mitotic spindle formation during cell division. Their dysfunction has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and ALS. Additionally, the role of kinesins in mitotic spindle formation makes a relevant target for anti-cancer therapies aiming to inhibit cancer cell division and proliferation. Deffenbaugh’s research uses total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy to image individual kinesin proteins, allowing discovery of different kinesin protein’s molecular mechanisms, which is critical for understanding their diverse cellular roles.

Deffenbaugh is supervised by Dr. William O. Hancock, professor of biomedical engineering.

Anthony Trezza, mechanical engineering, will present Simultaneous Localization and Mapping of Indoor Robots Using Permanent Magnetic Fields. This research is prototyping the use of low-cost, highly sensitive magnetometer technology to develop low-cost guidance systems for wheelchairs with the intent to assist amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, often known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) patients maintain mobility. As stated in Trezza’s submission, there have been long-standing dreams of using robots to provide extra functionality, care, and comfort to our living environments, offices, factories, and warehouses. But this dream is thwarted by the difficulty of a robot to know its position indoors. GPS signals cannot be reliably measured inside buildings; lighting conditions are highly variable; and modifications to the built environment for robot localization can be expensive and intrusive.

Trezza is supervised by Dr. Sean Brennan, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

The event serves as a unique opportunity for undergraduate students enrolled in Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities to showcase their research projects to an audience of Pennsylvania legislators. Participants spend the day in the Pennsylvania Capitol Building, share experiences and ideas with counterparts from other schools, and present research posters.

The Office of Undergraduate Education coordinates Penn State’s participation in the event.

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New Minor for Budding Penn State Entrepreneurs

by Frank Koe, Ph.D.

Great news for students interested in entrepreneurship! The Penn State Faculty Senate approved the Intercollege Minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ENTI) this summer, which gives entrepreneurial-minded students the opportunity to apply these principles in one of five concentrations:

  • Food and Bio-innovation
  • New Media
  • New Ventures
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Technology-Based Entrepreneurship

My colleague in the School of Engineering Design, Technology and Professional Programs, Liz Kisenwether, serves as director of the minor and has told me that she expects the number of concentrations to grow as other colleges across Penn State participate in the program.

All students enrolled in the minor take the same three foundational courses then select three additional courses from a wide array of choices available in each concentration. This means that students are able to apply entrepreneurship to the area of study they are most interested in, making the entrepreneurship minor a truly practical undertaking.

For more information about the minor, including details about how to apply and the courses in each concentration, visit the ENTI minor website.

Frank T. Koe, Ph.D. is an instructor in entrepreneurship within the School of Engineering Design, Technology and Professional Programs (SEDTAPP) at Penn State. Accomplishments include founding his own sporting good accessory business that focuses on hunting and fishing. Products can be seen in Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart and other outlets nationwide. His entrepreneurial academic experiences include serving as associate director of the Berkley Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Stern School of Business, New York University, and dean of the Baker School of Business and Technology at Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, NY.

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Breaking down the U.S. News rankings

Earlier this week, U.S. News & World Report released its “2014 Best Colleges Rankings,” where Penn State was ranked No. 8 among all public national universities and the College of Engineering was ranked No. 19 among undergraduate engineering programs.

U.S. News ranked the following undergraduate programs:

  • Aerospace Engineering: 12th
  • Chemical Engineering: 17th
  • Civil Engineering: 14th
  • Engineering Science and Mechanics: 10th
  • Industrial Engineering: 6th
  • Materials: 10th
  • Mechanical Engineering: 16th

The University’s undergraduate programs in biological engineering, bioengineering, computer engineering and electrical engineering were not ranked.

According to U.S. News, the undergraduate results are based solely on the peer judgments of deans and senior faculty who rated each program using a scale of 1 to 5 in a mail survey.

U.S. News does not include the disciplines of architectural engineering, computer science and nuclear engineering as part of its survey.

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