Archives: Monthly Archives: May 2022

UConn CEE @ ASEE-NE 2022

Dr. Shinae Jang poses with other ASEE-NE committee members on stage

Dr. Jang (center-right) alongside other ASEE-NE Committee members

April 23, 2022

This year, Wentworth Institute of Technology hosted the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Northeast Section Conference in Boston.

Covering the New England area, the ASEE-NE section spans across the following states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Here in Connecticut—representing UConn—Pierredens Fils, Dr. Shinae Jang, Daisy Ren, Rinchen Sherpa, and Caressa Wakeman attended the weekend event, participating in the Student Paper Presentations on Saturday, April 23rd.

This CEE cohort was a mix of faculty and both graduate and undergraduate students. On Friday, the conference finished its sessions for Professional Papers and Extended Abstracts.

One of the conference’s Student Papers Track Chairs, Dr. Jang, helped lead the Saturday sessions in the morning and afternoon along with the help of Fils, a fourth-year PhD student working on his dissertation.

Throughout the day, sessions were categorized by theme for students to present their accepted papers. In particular, two sessions allowed for the hard work of UConn students to truly shine.

The first session, Smart Sensors and Structural Health Monitoring, showcased the following papers by the UConn attendees among others:

  • Technical Survey and Literature Review on Bridge Joint Monitoring Practices by Daisy Ren, Pierredens Fils, and Shinae Jang
  • Damage Identification of Crumbling Foundation using Non-Destructive Methods and Image Processing by Rinchen Tsewang Sherpa, Kay Wille, and Shinae Jang

Rinchen Sherpa presenting his academic paper in front of a powerpoint

For the first time ever, Ren, a rising fourth-year undergraduate student, gave an oral presentation at the professional conference as the first author of an academic paper (pictured above on the left).

Meanwhile, Sherpa, a civil engineering graduate student, presented on behalf of ongoing crumbling concrete research taking place at UConn (pictured above on the right).

Later in the day for the Engineering Education and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Session, Wakeman, a graduate student, presented the following paper:

  • Improving the Learning Experience of Neurodiverse Students in a Fluid Mechanics Course During the COVID-19 Pandemic by Caressa Adalia Wakeman, Amvrossios Bagtzoglou, and Maria Chrysochoou

Before working on the final paper this year, Wakeman performed qualitative analysis last summer on data collected from a junior-level fluid mechanics course taught by Dr. Bagtzoglou.

Their findings explored pedagogical themes that affect neurodiverse students in the course—seeking to better support academic needs through alternate exam modalities, course content, TA/recitation videos, etc.

As the semester progressed, the initial response rate of 28.6% jumped to 71.5% of neurodivergent students having a positive outlook towards the course’s learning experience efficacy.

Caressa Wakeman presenting her paper in front of a powerpoint

Caressa Wakeman providing context for the paper

The submitted paper was in part of the INCLUDE Project which Wakeman helps oversee to further assist neurodivergent students.

Upon seeing everyone’s diligent efforts throughout the conference, Dr. Jang enthusiastically shared her reaction and thoughts:

“I’m so happy to see the students attend after their hard work in preparing abstracts, papers, and presentations. I am so proud of all of them. I hope that these kinds of professional development opportunities are publicized more for our students to participate in to further learn and grow.”

Huge congratulations to the following students for having their papers selected at the conference’s award ceremony:

  • Best Student Paper – Rinchen Sherpa
  • Best Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Paper Award – Caressa Wakeman

From left to right, Pierredens Fils, Caressa Wakeman, Daisy Ren, Rinchen Sherpa, and Shinae Jang pose together for a group photo at conference.

From left to right, Pierredens Fils, Caressa Wakeman, Daisy Ren, Rinchen Sherpa, and Dr. Shinae Jang

Beyond the regional conference, Wakeman’s paper will also be considered in the national competition for Engineering DEI at the ASEE National Conference towards the end of June.

Following the whole experience, Wakeman especially was pleasantly surprised by the outcome:

“I felt really supported by the team. It was a really encouraging and nice experience—a huge honor. They were in the middle of awarding the professional papers, so when they called my name—it was surreal. Shinae told me, ‘Go! Go!’ I was not expecting to be called at all.”

Once again, congratulations to both Rinchen Sherpa and Caressa Wakeman for their winning papers!

Academy of Distinguished Engineers: Andrew Gere (’92)

Andrew Gere speaks on a podium during induction ceremony

Andrew Gere pictured above

May 12, 2022

In honor of the Academy of Distinguished Engineers’ Class of 2021, the School of Engineering hosted an induction ceremony for the esteemed cohort in the Student Union Ballroom on May 12th. Previously, this event had been postponed in light of rising COVID-19 cases.

There are ten inductees in the Academy Class of 2021, each fostering rich backgrounds and expertise. Among the Academy Class of 2021, most notably, is Andrew Gere (’92), a UConn Civil Engineering alumnus.

In reflection of his undergraduate years, Gere recalls the way that college shaped his life:

“The civil engineering coursework at UConn was really tough—there were times when I wasn’t sure that I had what it took to get through it. What that did though, was teach me to be a problem solver, and I learned how to solve problems as part of a team. That experience has been invaluable throughout my career, and I’m thankful for it.”

Fresh out of college, Gere started his professional career as a Sanitary Engineer in the Division of Drinking Water at California Department of Health Services.

A couple of years later, he transitioned over to San Jose Water Company (SJW) where he continued to work hard and pave his way in the field.

Fast-forward 30 years of industry experience later, Gere has exemplified engineering excellence and leadership throughout his career—as demonstrated by his steady, professional trajectory upwards. Since 2016, he has been the President and Chief Operating Officer of SJW.

For context, SJW manages one of the most technically sophisticated urban water systems in the country—its scale alone reaches over one million people in the greater San Jose metropolitan area.

Despite how far apart San Jose and Storrs are, the connection is stronger than one might imagine. Back in 2019, SJW completed a merger with Connecticut Water (CW). Throughout this period, Gere not only testified before the CT Public Utility Regulatory Authority for the approval process but also collaborated with counterparts at CW on various strategies, including helping them contrive water loss control measures in place at San Jose.

Inductee Andrew Gere shakes the hand of Dean Kazem Kazerounian

Andrew Gere with Dean Kazerounian

In addition, Gere’s contributions at SJW extend nationwide, implementing state-of-the-art technologies for water loss monitoring and conservation (e.g. acoustic monitoring devices on pipe systems that "hear" leaks when they happen) while also pioneering environmental stewardship initiatives.

One initiative is the SJW Climate Change Policy which diversifies their energy portfolio, moving to electric vehicles among other conservation measures.

Gere’s impressive handle of his technical and leadership skills led to his 2020 election as Chairman of the National Association of Water Companies' (NAWC) Board of Directors.

Comprising this board, 20 of the top water industry executives from NAWC member companies "share best practices and leverage their strengths to benefit the communities they serve" (Source: NAWC). Among these members, they decide upon a Chairman each year to coordinate a strategic plan with the NAWC’s President and CEO.

To summarize his leadership style, many regard Gere as a resilient individual and a great speaker who can easily connect with listeners through his authenticity.

From left to right, Gere's daughter, Jillian, Dr. Chrysochoou, Andrew Gere, and his wife, Nancy

From left to right: Gere's daughter, Jillian, Dr. Marisa Chrysochoou, Andrew Gere, and his wife, Nancy

Considering Gere’s set of accomplishments and innovative mindset, the department is thrilled with his induction and the stellar example he sets for both students and alumni.

“I’m very humbled to be recognized by UConn Engineering in this way. It has given me a chance to reflect on my career, and it’s very satisfying to think about how my work in water has made a real difference in people’s lives.”

At the induction ceremony, Gere was accompanied by his wife, Nancy, and daughter, Jillian, who is also pursuing her education at UConn in Environmental Studies.

To learn more about the Academy of Distinguished Engineers’ Class of 2021, read here!

Cerrai Selected for US Frontiers of Engineering: Outstanding Early Career Engineer

American flag fades into a solid blue color with text that says, "US FOE September 21-23, 2022 Seattle, WA FRONTIERS OF ENGINEERING"

May 23, 2022

It is with great honor that the department announces that Dr. Diego Cerrai has been selected as one of the outstanding 100 early-career engineers from industry, universities, and government labs to participate in the 2022 US Frontiers of Engineering Symposium, which will be held September 21-23 and hosted by Amazon in Seattle.

The symposium will focus on the following topics:

  • Microbes - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • Conversational AI
  • Technology and Racial Justice and Equity
  • Hydrogen: A New "Universal" Energy Carrier for the Carbon-free Future

As a scientist and engineer, Cerrai will further his knowledge on these cutting-edge research topics while also getting involved in the conversations related to the future of a carbon-free electric grid as the Eversource Energy Center Associate Director and Manager.

It is going to be a unique opportunity for a faculty member to represent our school in exciting conversations with top early-career engineers from:

  • Industry (e.g. IBM, Intel, Siemens, ExxonMobil, Microsoft, Dell, Amazon)
  • Government (e.g. NASA, Argonne, OakRidge, NREL, Air Force, NIST)
  • Top Universities (e.g. Stanford, MIT, Princeton)

Learn more about the 2022 US Frontiers of Engineering Symposium on this website!

EPA Rainworks Challenge 2nd Place Winners

April 27, 2022

Please congratulate our ENVE seniors Kelsey Adamson, Fiona Casey, and their team from Environmental Science, Landscape Architecture, UConn CLEAR and Facilities for their 2nd place award in the EPA Campus Rainworks Challenge. Their project submission was titled Ecologic L.I. Sound.  This challenge is a national design competition for applying and reimagining green infrastructure on college campuses. Read the full announcement here and check out their video below!