Featured Innovator: Dr. World Nieh Demonstrates the Need to Think Small to Achieve Big Ideas in Wood Products Industry

World Nieh, Photo Source IUFRO Division Conference

World Nieh, Photo Source IUFRO Division Conference

“So CLT is available now. Cellulose nanomaterials are about five years away. In 10 years, new products from the three major polymers of wood. Beyond 10 years, use your imagination. Anything can happen.” – Dr. World Nieh

When thinking about about wood, it’s easy to get caught up in the big picture: all-wood high-rises, CLT panels, Wood Energy. But sometimes, to really make a breakthrough in a field, you have to think small. In Dr. World Nieh’s case, that means thinking on the nano-level.

Dr. World Nieh is the Forest Products National Program Lead in the U.S. Forest Service’s R&D Deputy Area. He also represents the Forest Service in the National Nanotechnology Initiative, co-chairs the Biomass R&D Board inter-agency Conversions Workgroup, and co-chairs the inter-agency Sustainable Nano-manufacturing Signature Initiative.

These days, Dr. Nieh’s work is focused on developing new uses for wood such as cellulose nanomaterial technologies and low-rise buildings and bridges. But let’s take a step back and define what we mean when we say cellulose nanomaterial. Cellulose is an organic compound often used in the production of paperboard and paper that the USDA Forest Service defines as:

“Cellulose nanomaterials are primarily isolated from trees and other organisms; are naturally occurring polymeric materials that have demonstrated great promise for commercial applications across an array of industrial sectors; are renewable and environmentally sustainable; and have the potential to be produced in large volumes (i.e., millions of tons per year).

The commercialization of cellulose nanomaterials has the capacity to create hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect jobs, particularly in rural America. The United States is currently in a good position to become a leading global source of commercial cellulose nanomaterials innovation, production, and use”

Some of the benefits of cellulose nanomaterials, as outlined by Dr. Nieh, include:

  • – Better potential to control flow properties when compared to synthetic materials (such as when used with pen ink).
  • – Safe for human body use in biological applications.
  • – Light weight yet strong (particularly of interest in the automobile industry.

As indicated in the Forest Service definition, Cellulose nanomaterials has the potential to be used in a variety of fields, a point which Dr. Nieh elaborated in his interview with Pallet Enterprises.

“Nanotechnology has become one of the hottest areas of research and development in wood utilization globally,” says Dr. World Nieh. “For example, in Japan, a certain type of cellulose nanomaterial is already used in gel ink for ballpoint pens as a thickener because it performs better than existing chemical products. Oil drilling (for mud removal and maintain well pressure), fruit coating (improve shelf life), concrete (improve strength), packaging (better surface quality for printing, better barrier properties) and products for the food industry (nontoxic) are a few examples of large volume cellulose nanomaterials markets.  In 10 years, we may be able to lower the cost of producing cellulosic liquid transportation fuel so everyone in the supply chain can make a profit.”

Dr. Nieh earned his Ph.D. from Mississippi State University, M.S. from Virginia Tech as well as studying at the Polymer Science Department of the University of Southern Mississippi. He is a member of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the Forest Products Society (FPS), the Society of Wood Science and Technology (SWST) and the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI).

For his ongoing work to help guide the vision of the U.S. Forest Service Forest and his ongoing research into potential long term breakthroughs in the wood industry, we name Dr. World Nieh our Feature Innovator of the Month!

Dr. World Nieh does not work for Willamette Valley Company nor is he affiliated with our company.

Sources:

http://www.iufrodiv5-2017.ca/

http://www.techconnectworld.com/

http://www.palletenterprise.com/

 

Nora Ayanian sees a future of autonomous robot coordination

Nora Ayanian

Photo Source Tumo

“Teams of humans are exceptionally good at coordination. Teams of robots, however, are clumsy at coordination, requiring extensive communication and computation.” – Nora Ayanian

There’s no denying it, robots are incomparably skilled when carrying out a specific given task, even if that task requires some light improvisation. The same can’t be said, however, when robots are forced to worked together; the overlap in work either results in extra work on the programming side or redundant/ineffective task management on the robot side. But what if robots could coordinate themselves autonomously depending on what the other robots are currently doing? It may sound like something out of Westworld, but this is exactly the question that Nora Ayanian is working to answer.

Nora Ayanian, assistant professor and Director of the ACT (Automatic Coordination of Teams) Lab at USC, endeavors to make robots and robotics a very real part of everyday life. “I want to make robots easy to use and have them everywhere,” said Ayanian, “they should be accessible, user-friendly and interactive so you can have them in your house and in your car. Right now, robots are really difficult for novices to use.”

Despite her passion for the robotic, her goal to achieve robotic automation would require researching a much less predictable source: people. By developing an online multiplayer game with funding from the National Science Foundation CAREER award, Ayanian was able to study the ways that humans can coordinate together when presented with very little information or communication tools. This research would prove invaluable in defining an automated coordination system for robots and allow to them to “think” of solutions for problems based on the activities of the greater robotic team.

Though automated coordination could certainly be applied to groups of identical robots with identical programming, Nora Ayanian believes that diversity, both in terms of team and of the robots themselves, is the key to solving complex tasks.

“The way we solve multi-robot problems right now is to uniformly apply one control policy to all of the identical robots in the team. For example, imagine we’re trying to monitor air quality with a team of physically identical aerial robots. If we considered all the factors that could affect the problem, the robots, and their capabilities, we might have too many factors to consider and our problem would be intractable,” wrote Ayanian in a blog post for Justmeans.com. “Imagine that same team of aerial robots assisted by robots on the ground. The robots on the ground could provide additional information such as temperature, position, topography, and satellite communications via hardware the aerial robots might not be able to carry. They could also perform computation, telling the aerial robots where to go and mapping the air quality, allowing the aerial robots to use more of their on-board energy for sensing.”

The contributions Nora Ayanian has made to the field of robotics don’t just end with the vast potential of her research, they are also every present in the new generation of roboticists she inspires and works alongside in her role as Director of USC’s ACT lab. We are incredibly excited to see what Ayanian’s work means for the future of robotics and dub her our “Featured Innovator of the Month.”

Note: Nora Ayanian does not work for Willamette Valley Company nor is she affiliated with our company.

Sources:

https://www.technologyreview.com/lists/innovators-under-35/2016/

http://www.justmeans.com/blog/diversity-in-the-it-industry-is-key-to-solving-global-problems

USC News: New USC Viterbi professor sees robots in future

USC News: Two USC Viterbi researchers named among top ‘Innovators Under 35’

Family Run Australian Company Paves the Way with Earth Friendly Concrete.

JoeWagner

Photo Source – The Australian

“EFC contains no Portland cement, instead we use recycled waste products (blast furnace slag from steel production and fly ash from coal fired power) creating a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” – Joe Wagner

We believe that our future is brightest when we all look towards sustainable solutions and eco-friendly practices in the customs and business that define our everyday lives. Without them we could see the balance of earth’s environment shifting and resulting in catastrophic negative consequences. Joe Wagner and Wagners of Australia know this and propose a solution of their own: Earth Friendly Concrete.

What is Earth Friendly Concrete (EFC)? As the name implies, it’s concrete that offers a reduced carbon footprint and lessens its environmental impact. Instead of using Portland Cement like most traditional concrete, EFC uses a geopolymer binder system that utilizes two industrial waste by-products, blast furnace slag (iron production waste) and fly ash (coal power waste), through a chemical activation. This technology is said to reduce carbon emissions by 80 – 90% in comparison to Portland Cement.

Wagners of Toowoomba, Australia is a family owned construction materials and mining services company run and established by Henry, John, Denis, Neill, and Joe Wagner. They’ve spent the last 10 years perfecting the formula for Earth Friendly Concrete and it’s certainly paying off. Some of the additional benefits of EFC include: High sulphate resistance, high chloride ion ingress resistance, high acid resistance, very low shrinkage, 30% higher flexural strength and very low heat of reaction. So in other words, it’s not just better for the environment, it’s more durable than most traditional concrete.

It’s no surprise that people all around the world are taking notice of Earth Friendly Concrete. To date it’s been awarded winner of 2011 QLD Premiers ClimateSmart Awards,  the overall winner of the 2013 BPN Sustainability Awards, 2013 The Australian – Shell Innovation Awards, category winner “Hi-tech Manufacturing and Design,” the 2015 Concrete Institute of Australia (CIA), Queensland State Award for Excellence – “Engineering Projects,” and the 2015 CIA National Sustainability Award.

Being able to find creative solutions to the long-term problems that our planet faces is one of the great benefits humanity derives from innovation. For their work in diminishing construction’s carbon footprint through inspired solutions, we name Joe Wagner and Wagners our “Featured Innovators of the Month.”

Wagners is a family owned construction materials and mining services company in Toowoomba, Australia and not affiliated with Willamette Valley Company.

Sources:

http://www.wagner.com.au/main/what-we-do/earth-friendly-concrete/about-efc

http://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/4130398/a-concrete-innovation/

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/innovationchallenge/manufacturing-and-hi-tech-design-winner-joe-wagner/story-fn9dkrp5-1226771411297

Master the Art with Mark Montano

Mark Montano

“It feels natural for me to be creating and making. I get depressed if I’m not in the middle of a project to be honest.” – Mark Montano

Mark Montano is literally a man of many hats. Just look at his resume; he’s been an interior designer, a clothing designer, a TV host for The Style Network and The Learning Channel, a columnist, a published author, and most recently a youtube-hit with his channel, Make Your Mark where he frequently uses our favorite craft glues (like the E6000 line) and other DIY products from our very own Eclectic Products.

Mark’s passion and infectious creativity have brought success in every medium he’s immersed himself in, but it’s his desire to inspire others that have truly brought him to the limelight.

It all began at the young age of 14 when Montano aided his mother and aunts in the sewing of their clothing. “Sewing is so wonderful and meditational. Since I was from a small town with no real way to get great clothes, I had to make them and that’s what I did.” Years later this very mindset took him to acquire a masters in Costume History from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Paired with his Bachelors degree in business, Montano was ready to take the design world by storm.

Mark Montano went on to intern for Oscar de la Renta and found himself in the heart of design world. His New York surroundings inspired his work and became a staple of the boutique he established. His creative sensibilities would soon find a very different audience than the high fashion world of New York when he took on the position of contributing editor for Cosmo Girl! Magazine. His design tips helped define many a teenage girl room from that moment onward.

It was his transition to TV, however, that truly brought Mark to the everyone’s homes and face to face (so the speak). As a designer on the hit TLC show While You Were Out, Mark Montano would transform people’s homes while they were away for the weekend. By the time he became host of My Celebrity Home, it was hard not to recognize Mark Montano’s unique style and vibrant attitude.

Mr. Montano is a thoroughly creative individual, one with the unwavering capacity to master whichever medium he embraces. It’s his gift for sharing, however, that truly renders him incomparable from so many other creatives. From his Cosmo Girl! tips to his design shows to his YouTube Channel, Mark has always done everything in his power to inspire others to create and to give them the tools to do so. We name him our “Featured Innovator of the Month” and look forward to sharing more videos and tips from Mark in the future. Don’t forget, you can always find the latest from Mark Montano in his Youtube Channel. Now, go create something!

Note: Mark Montano does not work for Willamette Valley Company.

Sources:

instructables.com/id/Featured-Author-Interview-Mark-Montano/

kellygolightly.com/interview-mark-montano/

www.youtube.com/user/MakeYourMarkMontano

AllAmericanSpeakers

Innovators We Admire: Dirk Ahlborn

Dirk-Ahlborn

Photo Source CrowdFundInsider.com

“New technologies and new ideas, can create a better passenger experience while solving these issues through new monetization strategies and business models, with the Hyperloop and all other forms of transportation.” – Dirk Ahlborn

Innovation can’t thrive in a vacuum; external factors, opposing views, tools, and resources must come together to create the breakthroughs that propel us forward. Few know that as well as Dirk Ahlborn, Founder and CEO of JumpStarter Inc. which operates JumpStartFund  and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT).

Ahlborn’s mission was to create a new platform for scientific funding and the bringing together of minds. “We already have a process to help create a physical startup. Why not do that online?” asks Ahlborn. “Why not create an online crowdsourced incubator? This way we allow tech-disconnected hubs to connect with the best technology hubs and co-found new companies. It’s all about building communities smarter and faster.” It’s this collaboration of communities and hubs that have lead the way for Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.

Watch as Ahlborn discusses his ideas about the world’s next breakthrough in transportation on the news program, Business Rockstars.

The term Hyperloop, a concept popularized by super innovator Elon Musk (most famous for Telsa), is a system of transportation that uses tubes and air compression to reach incredible speeds. Inspired by this idea, Dirk Ahlborn and Jumpstarter Inc. built HTT, a research crowd collaboration company working to develop a high-speed transportation system.

Hyperloop

Photo Source Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.

HTT aims to create a high speed intercity transport that travels close to 800 miles an hour as well slower, inter-suburban travel. The project would have a capacity of 15 million passengers a year. Putting this into further context, an airplane travels at most at 500mph and most trains at 200mph. Beyond its speed, the Hyperloop boasts many other proposed benefits, such as being self-sufficient through renewable energy, a greater emphasis for safety, lower construction costs, and affordable travel.

This may sound like a far-off fantasy but it’s closer than one may think.  In a partnership with Deustche Bahn, HTT will be working to create an “Innovation Train,” a conventional train powered through the technology of HTT for greater efficiency. One such piece of tech would be the creation and use of Augmented Reality windows, as seen below.

Dirk Ahlborn knows that innovation can’t thrive when it’s isoated, it’s only when great minds come together that breakthroughs occur. This philosophy is already bringing about changes to the transportation industry and will only continue from here. For these reasons and many more, we name Dirk Ahlborn our “Featured Innovator of the Month.”

If you’re looking to hear about more incredible innovators bringing the latest breakthroughs to the transportation industry, be sure to take part in AREMA’s 2016 Expo.

Note: Dirk Ahlborn does not work for Willamette Valley Company nor is he affiliated with our company.

Sources:

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

JumpStartFund

Tech.EU

TechnoBuffalo

Featured Innovator: Linda Bauer Darr is Transforming Transportation

Linda Bauer Darr

Photo Source -NVLConvention

“We want the organization to be more inclusive and supportive of small railroads, develop a strong safety product and be recognized by Class Is as an essential part of their networks.” – Linda Bauer Darr

Transportation is a topic that’s of utmost importance to us at WVCO, with many of our divisions are focused towards public and automobile transportation. We do our part to push for innovation and safety in those sectors, and her 25+ year career, Linda Bauer Darr too is working to do the same. She has lead associations and companies in many of transportations biggest sectors and has brought positive and real change to them. If you’re planning on taking part in the AREMA 2016 Expo, you’ll have the opportunity to hear her speak on the subject.

From 1989 to 1998, Linda Bauer Darr acted as Vice President for the American Trucking Association, a far cry from her once vocation of choice, criminal law. “The trucking industry was opening up and going more international. I was 26 years old and meeting with ambassadors and senators,” says Darr. Her international experience would only grow from there as she made the transition to the U.S. Department of Transportation, adopting the role of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budgets and Programs. In her role she oversaw a department-wide process reform for the review of large-scale transportation projects and lead the development of a $60 billion dollar annual budget to go towards rail, highway, Coast Guard, and aviation funding. “Here I am in my early 30s and meeting with the Coast Guard commandant talking about eliminating part of his budget,” said Darr.

ABA

Her role in the transportation industry didn’t end there. From 2001 to 2007, Linda Bauer Darr took on the Executive Director and Senior Vice President of Policy & Communications at the American Bus Association. As executive director, she directed the day-to-day activities of the ABA Foundation (the research and education sector), created grant programs for rural buses firms, and lead initiatives that resulted in a multi-million dollar infusion into the industry. The next step in her illustrious career took Darr to the American Moving & Storage Association, where she acted as President & CEO from 2007 to 2014 and lead the AMSA through a transformative period. Her Industry Certification initiative removed hundreds of problematic AMSA members, an initially daunting proposition that resulted in short term due loss but long term gains.

These days, Darr is the president of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, the first woman to ever to fill the role in its 102 year history. She’s already brought progress in the form of the Short Line Safety Institute, a non-profit corporation that promotes safety, training, and research for short line and regional rail roads.  “Safety is a critical focus,” says Darr. “We need to help create a culture in this diverse industry, and a level of understanding and compliance.” Though she’s only been president since 2014, it’s clear that under her tenure the association will be moving towards greater efficiency, training, and overall security.

It is a difficult task to briefly sum up the crucial role Linda Bauer Darr has played in the transportation industry throughout her professional career; she has pushed for safety initiatives, championed researched and awareness, brought funding to industries that were previously struggling, and embraced forward thinking processes no matter how daunting they may seem in comparison to the status quo. For these reasons and many, more we have named Linda Bauer Darr our “Featured Innovator of the Month.” We hope you’ll enjoy her lecture at AREMA 2016.

Note: Linda Bauer Darr does not work for Willamette Valley Company nor is she affiliated with our company.

Sources:

Progressive Railroading

AREMA

Short Line Safety Institute

How One Man Is Helping Develop China’s High Speed Railway

ZhaiWanming

Photo Source – South Jiaotong University

“China is developing its high-speed train technology fast enough to catch up with the best by, among other things, funding research teams to develop advanced monitoring and early warning systems, and quake-resistant technology to ensure the safety of high-speed railways. Even in environmental protection, China has gained enough experience while building the railway that connects Lhasa, Tibet with Qinghai province.” – Professor Zhai Wanming

If you’re attending this year’s ASCE International Conference on Transportation and Development, you will have the opportunity to listen to a lecture presented by Professor Zhai Wanming on the Technology Challenges in Rapid Development of High-Speed Railways in China.

Professor Zhai Wanming is a railway engineering dynamics specialist who fills the roles of chairman of Academic Committee of Southwest Jiaotong University, director of the Train and Track Research Institute, elected member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Rail Transportation. With all that in mind, it should be safe to say that he has played a fundamental role in the development of safety protocols and frameworks for China’s high-speed rail system and abroad.

HighSpeedTrain

One of China’s High-Speed Trains. Photo Source ChinaDaily.com

To understand the importance of Zhai’s work, one should also understand the necessity of the High-Speed rail in China. To date, it is the world’s longest high-speed rail network and the most heavily used in the world, with over 2.5 million passengers a day. In 2011, a devastating crash between two high-speed trains in Wenzhou, as well as some political circumstances, prompted a greater focus on safety and a reexamining of current systems. It is through the work of experts like Professor Wanming that the rails have been tested and secured for considerable use.

Professor Wanming’s endeavors include developing a method for analyzing and assessing the safety of high speed trains passing through bridges and the development of a vehicle-track coupled dynamics framework, used throughout the country. As China expands their high-speed rail system, Zhai Wanming’s processes have been used in over 20 large-scale field engineering projects to date. His work also extends to over 160 papers he has published on the subject and such books as “Vehicle-Track Coupling Dynamics” and “Advances in Environmental Vibration.”

Zhai has won the first-class prize of Science and Technology Progress Awards by the Ministry of Education in 2003 and the first-class prize of National Award for Science and Technology Progress by State Department in 2005. He received the achievement prize of Zhan Tianyou Railway Science and Technology Award in 2003, as well as several honors including the National Expert with Outstanding Contribution in 1994 and the Award of Chinese Youth Scientist in 2006. Lastly, he was named Chang Jiang Professor by the Ministry of Education (the highest honor issued to an individual in higher education by the Ministry of Education).

Over the course of several decades, Zhai Wanming has brought considerable advances to railway engineering and safety both in China and the world over through his frameworks, systems, and publications. It is this unwavering drive to improve the way we handle railway transportation systems that has made Zhai Wanming our “Featured Innovator of the Month.” We hope you all get the chance to hear him speak at International Conference on Transportation and Development, it will not be one to miss!

Note: Zhai Wanming does not work for Willamette Valley Company nor is he affiliated with our company.

Sources:

ASCE International Conference on Transport and Development

China Daily

International Conference on Frontiers of Design and Manufacturing

New York Times

Could a Robot Learn By Itself?

Ashutosh Saxena

Photo Source Cornell Engineering

“We now live in a world where robots are helping humans in their daily lives, and just like humans, robots need to learn new skills in order to do their jobs successfully. And we shouldn’t expect a robot to learn on its own from scratch, any more than we’d expect a human to do so—imagine a child growing up with no access to textbooks, libraries, or the Internet.” – Ashutosh Saxena

What if robots could learn to carry out tasks autonomously? In other words, when giving a robot a new task it could “figure out” on it’s own how to do it? This is exactly the question that Ashutosh Saxena is working to answer.

Professor Saxena is a roboticist at Cornell University working to develop a massive online search engine that robots could access and find the required knowledge to carry out tasks, the aptly named RoboBrain. When given a question, RoboBrain will search the internet for relevant knowledge databases and images, sidestepping the need to teach robots to do tasks through step by step instructions.

“In 2014, I started a project called RoboBrain at Cornell University along with PhD students Ashesh Jain and Ozan Sener. We now have collaborators at Stanford and Brown. What we’re working on is a way of sharing information that allows robots to gather whatever knowledge they need for a task,” writes Saxena. “If one robot learns, then the knowledge is propagated to all the robots. RoboBrain achieves this by gathering the knowledge from a variety of sources. The system stores multiple kinds of information, including symbols, natural language, visual or shape features, haptic properties, and motions.”

The implications of such a project, if successful, could be enormous. It would lead to an increase in efficiency and reduce downtime and spending spent in “training” robots how to carry out tasks. RoboBrain could also lead to robots with more capacity to carry out objectives than previously intended.

Saxena’s work has garnered him several awards and recognition, including Eight Innovators to Watch in 2015, Smithsonian Institution; World Technology Award, 2015; The 50-years of Shakey at AAAI-RSS Blue Sky Ideas award, 2015; RSS Early Career Award, 2014; NSF Career award, 2013; Microsoft Faculty Fellow, 2012; Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, 2011; Best Cognitive Robotics paper, IROS’14. Best student paper, RSS’13; CUAir at AUVSI’12: First prize, mission performance; Google Faculty Research Award, 2012.

These breakthroughs in robotic learning coupled with the unparalleled potential of a developed RoboBrain is what makes Ashush Saxena our pick for “Featured Innovator of the Month.”

Note: Ashush Saxena does not work for Willamette Valley Company nor is he affiliated with our company.

Sources:

Stanford University

Rethink Robotics Youtube

MIT Technology Review

Smithsonian

Spotlight on Carolina Osorio, an Innovator We Admire

CarolinaOsorio

Photo Source InnovatorsUnder35.com

Willamette Valley Company was founded on the principal that innovation is truly at its best when it makes our lives better. Sometimes that takes on the form of advancements in the field of medicine or robotics, other times it means making our daily lives more efficient and allowing more time for what is important.

It is this reason that our “Featured Innovator of the Month” is Carolina Osorio, an assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT, who wants to help solve the world’s growing traffic problem.

Traffic Jam

An all too familiar sight for anyone living in the city.

As anyone who has spent any time commuting in a city can attest, gridlocks and traffic jams can waste a large percentage of your day and turn a 20 minute drive into several hours. But did you know this problem could be solved with an algorithm and software? That’s exactly what Ms. Osorio is working to do, an endeavor that is built on her study into the traffic patterns of Lausanne, Switzerland.

She says the problem with most existing traffic light software is that it typically looks at the traffic system as a whole as opposed to a collection of individual drivers. “Most signal-timing software looks at current or historical traffic patterns. It doesn’t take into account how travel might change,”says Osorio. “Usually in practice, when you want to time traffic lights, traditionally it’s been done in a local way. You define one intersection, or maybe a set of intersections along an arterial, and you fine-tune or optimize the traffic lights there.”

This is where Osorio’s software promises to shine.  “What is less done, and is more difficult to do, is when you look at a broader scale, in this case the city of Lausanne, and you want to change signal times at intersections distributed across the entire city, with the objective of trying to improve conditions across the entire city.”

In their applied simulations of this new approach to traffic timing, Carolina Osorio and her team found a decrease in commuting time of 22% compared to standardly-used traffic software. Though Ms. Osorio’s system is not yet implemented in traffic software, one can easily see how it can positively influence cities in the future.

Carolina Osorio has received several honors and accolades for her work, including MIT Technology Review EmTech Colombia TR35 Award (2015), MIT CEE Maseeh Excellence in Teaching Award (2014), National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award (NSF CAREER) (2014), NEC Corporation Fund Award for Research in Computers and Communications MIT (2014-2015), and the National Science Foundation Award, (2013-2016). Furthermore she has been an invited Speaker on “The Road to Future Urban Mobility” at the 2016 National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) EU-US Frontiers of Engineering (EU-US FOE) Symposium.

This dedication to finding solutions to the very real problems that hinder society’s efficiency and mobility is why we have named Carolina Osorio as our “Featured Innovator of the Month.” We can’t wait to see what she’ll accomplish in the future!

Note: Carolina Osorio does not work for Willamette Valley Company nor is she affiliated with our company.

Sources:

MIT – Traffic Lights: There’s a Better Way

Smithsonian Mag – Better Traffic-Light Timing Will Get You There Faster

MIT Innovators Under 35 – Carolina Osorio

 

photo credit: World Class Traffic Jam: Jersey Turnpike Version via photopin (license)

 

Civil Engineers- The Unsung Heroes of Modern Society

“So why is it that although world has some famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van de Rohe, Frank Gehry or Zaha Hadid just to name a few, (it) doesn’t have famous traffic engineers?”

Notable Civil Engineers Highway EngineersBrooklyn Bridge In the spirit of innovation, we have started featuring star innovators on our blog each month- people who embody the ideals of innovation in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields. This month, our intention was to feature a prominent Civil Engineer who has made an impact in our daily lives and in public places. What we found is there are countless people who have contributed to the field of civil engineering and deserve accolades, but rarely hear of them.

Though the field of civil engineering has been around for centuries, we know very little about the people who have paved the way (literally in some cases) for us to enjoy the many amenities our modern society has to offer- clean water, railroads, roads, sidewalks, buildings, sewage systems, dams, bridges or airports and so much more.

An Australian Transportation blogger writes in this post,

“So why is it that although world has some famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van de Rohe, Frank Gehry or Zaha Hadid just to name a few, doesn’t have famous traffic engineers? Why do we have famous economists like Adam Smith, Karl Marx. John Keynes or Milton Friedman and we don’t know of any transport planners? And if for doctors it is quite reasonable to know so many because of all these diseases named after them why is it that we don’t know who designed the first tram system? Or the inventor of Bus Rapid Transit? Why the bridges aren’t named after their designer?”

It’s hard to imagine our lives without civil engineers.  These unsung heroes are responsible for the design and maintenance of both the small and enormous infrastructure projects all over the world.

Here is our list of notable engineers we’d like to highlight (not listed in any particular order) that are considered by many to be leaders in the field of civil engineering and transportation planning. Who would you add to this list? 

Emily Warren Roebling (1843 –1903)

Known as the “first woman field engineer” and saw out the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge.

John Smeaton – (1724 – 1792)

First self proclaimed civil engineer. He is often called the Father of Civil Engineering. His work on waterwheels and windmills contributed to the efficiency of the industrial revolution.

Archie Alphonso Alexander (1888 – 1958)

Prominent transportation engineer recognized for his work on bridges, buildings and utilities. First African American to graduate from the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering.

Benjamin Wright – (1770 – 1842)

The American Society of Civil Engineers declared Benjamin Wright the Father of American Civil Engineering. He was the Chief Engineer during the construction of the Erie Canal and many more notable infrastructure products in the United States.

William Hunter Dammond (1873-1956)

Invented the rail road switching mechanism which enabled trains to change direction. He is also the First African American Graduate from the University of Pittsburgh with a Degree in Civil Engineering.

Squire Whipple – (1804 – 1888)

Designed and built a weigh lock scale to weigh canal boats on the Erie Canal. He also designed and built seven short span iron bridges for the New York and Erie Railroad near Newburgh and Binghamton, New York. Whipple also built the first long span trapezoidal railroad bridges for the New York Railroads.

Elsie Eaves- (1898 – 1983)

The first female associate member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and a founding member of the American Association of Cost Engineers (now AACE International; the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering)

Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806 – 1859)

Designed tunnels, railway lines, ships and bridges. He is most famous for the network of tunnels, bridges and viaducts he designed for the Great Western Railway. His design methods are still used today in high-speed trains.

Walter Taylor (1872–1955)

Australian visionary and builder of many Brisbane landmarks. His most notable works are the Walter Taylor Bridge and the Graceville Methodist church, both of which are heritage-listed buildings.

Dr. John “Job” Crew Bradfield- (1867-1943)

Prominent Australian engineer who designed and oversaw the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. He was also appointed Chief Engineer for the metropolitan railway construction in New South Wales.

Olive Dennis- (1885-1957)

The second woman to obtain a Civil Engineering degree from Cornell. She was hired that year as a draftsman by the B & O Railroad to design bridges, eventually changed the nature of railway travel.

Duff A. Abrams- (1880 – 1965)

A researcher in the area of organization and properties of concrete, he was responsible for coming up with the necessary methods for testing concrete characteristics that we still use. President of the American Concrete Association for a year, he discovered the concept of fineness modulus and the definition of water-cement ratio.

Charles Duke

a structural engineer and architect, made distinguished contributions to the development of churches and railroads. irst African American to earn a Master of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin in 1913.

Nora Stanton Blatch Barney- (1883 – 1971)

Famous American civil engineer and architect, the first woman to earn a degree in any type of engineering in the United States; her degree was in civil engineering. In the same year, she was accepted as a junior member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)

Henry Randall Grooms (1944-n/a)

Served on the DC Highway Department as a highway engineer and on the engineering team at Rockwell International where he was awarded Engineer of the Year Award the company’s space division in 1980.

Othmar Hermann Ammann- (1879 – 1965)

A Swiss-born American structural engineer, he designed the Bayonne Bridge, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and the famous George Washington Bridge. He also designed more than half of the 11 bridges that attach New York City to the rest of the country. As well as his work on bridges, he planned the construction and directed the building of the Lincoln Tunnel.

We urge to continue to learn about these famous civil engineers and what their inventions have brought to the world by visiting the following resources-
www.facebook.com/notes/structural-engineering-forum-of-india
science.howstuffworks.com/engineering
www.wikiengineer.com/Transportation
www.thefamouspeople.com/civil-engineers
www.i-studentglobal.com/civil-engineering
mobilitymanagementaustralia.blogspot.com.au

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photo credit: Highway via photopin (license)
photo credit: New York City – Brooklyn Bridge via photopin (license)