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UT, AAA to host seminar on cybersecurity and autonomous vehicles April 13

The University of Toledo College of Engineering and AAA Northwest Ohio are hosting the second in a series of free, public talks to educate consumers about how smart cars will impact the world.

The seminar focused on cybersecurity and autonomous vehicles will take place Friday, April 13, from 3 to 5 p.m. in UT’s Nitschke Auditorium.

“We understand drivers have questions about the impact of artificial intelligence on transportation, and this is a great opportunity to talk about autonomous-vehicle technology and the work to prevent self-driving cars from being hacked,” said Dr. Jared Oluoch, UT assistant professor of computer science and engineering technology.

Taylor Kia will have a 2018 Stinger on site that is equipped with forward collision avoidance; forward collision warning system; smart cruise control with stop and go; lane-keep assist system; lane-departure warning system; driver attention warning; high-beam assist; blind-spot collision warning; rear cross-traffic collision warning; and auto-ran sensing windshield wipers.

Speakers will include Jennifer Dukarski, attorney with Butzel Long in Ann Arbor, who represents suppliers of autonomous vehicle technology, and Mike Krajecki, director of emerging technology risk consulting at KPMG in Chicago. Both speakers will participate in a panel discussion featuring UT engineering researchers and cybersecurity experts Oluoch and Dr. Ahmad Javaid.

An autonomous vehicle will be on display for students to view inside the Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex in the Brady Engineering Innovation Center from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Register for the free, public seminar here.

Materials engineering, orthopedic biomaterials topic of Distinguished University Professor Lecture

Dr. Sarit B. Bhaduri, Distinguished University Professor of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, will discuss his research Tuesday, March 20.

The title of his Distinguished University Professor Lecture is “A Materials Engineer’s Perspective on Orthopedic Biomaterials — From Fundamentals to Research Translation.” The free, public event will be held at 4 p.m. in Nitschke Hall Room 1027.


Bhaduri is trained in materials science and engineering. His active research career is divided into two halves: the first half was devoted to structural materials research, and the second half involves biomaterials research.

He is listed as an inventor/co-inventor of 45 issued U.S. and foreign patents. 2018 marks the 25th year of his receiving sustained funding from the National Science Foundation. The author and co-author of more than 180 peer-reviewed papers and seven book chapters has received significant additional funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, the state of Ohio and industry.

Bhaduri has been elected as a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and the National Academy of Inventors.

He was appointed a Distinguished University Professor in 2017.

A reception will follow his lecture in the lobby of University Hall.

Three Distinguished University Professors named

Three faculty members have been named Distinguished University Professors in recognition of their exemplary teaching, research, scholarship and professional service.

The newest Distinguished University Professors, who were approved and recognized by the UT Board of Trustees at its February meeting, are Dr. Abdollah Afjeh of the College of Engineering, Dr. Paul Chongkun Hong of the College of Business and Innovation, and Dr. Joseph Slater of the College of Law.

UT Board of Trustees Chair Steven M. Cavanaugh, left, and UT President Sharon L. Gaber posed for a photo with the new Distinguished University Professors, from left, Dr. Paul Hong, Dr. Abdollah Afjeh and Dr. Joseph Slater. The three faculty members received the honor in recognition of their exemplary teaching, research, scholarship and professional service.

“It is an honor to recognize the careers of these outstanding faculty members who are accomplished experts recognized for advancing their fields of study and who are great teachers dedicated to sharing their knowledge with our students,” said Dr. Andrew Hsu, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

Afjeh, chair and professor of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering, joined UT in 1984. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and an internationally recognized researcher in propulsion and energy conversion systems.

Afjeh’s focus is on the development and validation of computational models that are used to predict behavior of aerospace propulsion systems under flight conditions. His work supports the design and development of aircraft engines and small gas turbine engines. He also has been working on comprehensive aeromechanics analysis of utility-scale wind turbines.

“I am profoundly honored by this recognition,” Afjeh said. “I am deeply grateful to my colleagues and students who inspired me and fueled my passion for learning. This honor is also a recognition of the great work of my talented students who knew no boundaries and believed in impossible things.”

Afjeh has received 49 research awards for more than $22 million and has authored 115 peer-reviewed publications. He received UT’s Outstanding Researcher Award in 2014.

Hong, professor of information operations and technology management, joined UT in 1999. He is an internationally recognized researcher in network capabilities,
global supply chain management, international comparative studies, and building growth engine industries for national

Hong’s expertise is in the implementation of supply chain management practices to build firms for domestic advantage and global competitiveness. Much of his work has been in the service sector, notably, U.S. health-care industries as well.

“This recognition is about the value of teaching, research and outreach of business faculty for the world at large,” Hong said. “I accept this honor along with my colleagues here at The University of Toledo and around the world who have worked with me over the years.”

Hong, who was selected as Fulbright Scholar in 2017, has published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles and three books. He received UT’s Outstanding Researcher Award in 2015.

Slater, the Eugene N. Balk Professor of Law and Values, joined UT in 1999. He is the nation’s leading expert in public-sector labor law respected in academia, as well as by practicing attorneys, the courts, and national and international media.

Slater’s work has influenced two separate fields of study — labor history and modern labor law. He is an expert witness on the history of labor law.

“This means a lot to me. I know The University of Toledo employs many outstanding faculty, excellent scholars and excellent teachers. I am deeply honored to join the ranks of law school colleagues past and present, as well as the amazingly impressive Distinguished University Professors from other colleges,” Slater said. “Also, I am pleased because this award reflects the importance of the field of labor and employment law, and the study of unions, workers and employers, in this community and beyond.”

Slater, who is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyer, has published four extensively cited books and 29 peer-reviewed articles and essays. He received UT’s Outstanding Researcher Award in 2016.

UT engineer creates solution to cheaper, longer lasting battery packs

An electrical engineer at The University of Toledo, who nearly died as a girl in Africa because of a hospital’s lack of power, has developed a new energy storage solution to make battery packs in electric vehicles, satellites, planes and grid stations last longer and cost less.

The new technology called a bilevel equalizer is the first hybrid that combines the high performance of an active equalizer with the low cost of the passive equalizer.

Dr. Ngalula Mubenga, UT assistant professor of electrical engineering technology, holds a battery cell next to the bilevel equalizer.

“It’s a game-changer because we solved the weak cell issue in lithium ion battery storage for packs with hundreds of cells,” said Dr. Ngalula Mubenga, UT assistant professor of electrical engineering technology. “Whenever we are talking about batteries, we are talking about cells connected in a series. Over time, the battery is not balanced and limited by the weakest cell in the battery.”

Before the bilevel equalizer, battery makers and automotive manufacturers balanced the cell voltages in a large battery pack using either a passive circuit, which loses more energy, or an active circuit, which is 10 times more expensive.

“In spite of their significant losses, passive equalizers are used in most applications because they are relatively simple and low-cost,” Mubenga said.

In Mubenga’s new technology, the cells are grouped into sections. Each cell within the section is balanced by a passive equalizer, while the entire section is balanced by an active equalizer.

“If there are 120 cells in a battery, divide the cells into 10 groups of 12,” Mubenga said. “Then you only need nine active equalizer units and 120 passive equalizer units using the bilevel equalizer. With current active equalizers, manufacturers would have to use 120 active equalizers. For manufacturers that can’t afford to use only active equalizers, the bilevel equalizer is the solution to the problem.”

Experiments have shown that the bilevel equalizer increases the discharge capacity of lithium ion batteries by about 30 percent, and the pack lasts longer because the cells are balanced.

“Instead of an electric vehicle’s battery lasting only four years, it would last much longer,” Mubenga said.

Mubenga worked on the project with Dr. Tom Stuart, UT professor emeritus of electrical engineering and computer science, who had the idea for the bilevel equalizer.

The solar panel, which was developed and installed by the SMIN Power Group, serves a community in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Their team is licensing the hybrid equalizer and retrofit kit to manufacturers. The research was recently published in Batteries, an international journal. Project funding was provided by the Ohio I-Corps program and Ohio Third Frontier program.

Mubenga plans to present their new, patented technology Wednesday, March 7, at 2 p.m. at the Advanced Design and Manufacturing Expo at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland in a session titled “Lowering the Cost of Energy Storage for E/HV and Grid Applications Using a Bilevel Equalizer for Large Li-Ion Batteries.”

Mubenga understands the life-changing power of electricity. When she was 17 years old in her native country of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa, she waited three days for surgery after her appendix burst because there was no power at the hospital.

“I was living in a small town called Kikwit, far away from the big and beautiful capital city of Kinshasa,” Mubenga said. “I was very sick, doctors needed to do surgery, but they couldn’t find any gas to turn on the power generator. For three days, my life depended on electricity. I was praying. I could not eat. And decided if I made it alive, I would work to find a solution so people wouldn’t die because of lack of electricity.”

The hospital found fuel to power the generator, doctors did the surgery, and Mubenga survived.

She started studying renewable energy at the UT College of Engineering in 2000 and earned a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and PhD in electrical engineering. After earning her professional engineer license in Ohio, she went on to found her company called the SMIN Power Group, which develops and installs solar power systems in communities throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“My passion is deep,” Mubenga said. “In places like that small town of Kikwit, if you have solar power, you can have electricity and save lives.”

Another factor fueling Mubenga’s research motivation is a connection between her native country and lithium ion batteries.

“Most of the minerals for today’s electronics are mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Mubenga said. “The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a leading producer of cobalt, copper, gold, diamond, tantalum and tin in the world. Indeed, the Democratic Republic of the Congo contains about 50 percent of the world’s reserve of cobalt, a mineral used to make lithium ion batteries.”

UT Spring Engineering Career Expo Feb. 21

More than 140 companies will attend the Spring 2018 Engineering Career Expo at The University of Toledo Wednesday, Feb. 21.

The networking and hiring event will take place from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. on the first floor of Nitschke Hall and the North Engineering Building.

Only UT College of Engineering students and alumni are eligible to attend this opportunity to connect with companies.

More than 700 engineering students and alumni are expected to attend.

Companies scheduled to participate include Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Dana Inc., Marathon Petroleum Corp., Matrix Technologies Inc., Owens Corning, Owens-Illinois Inc., PCC Airfoils LLC, Plastic Technologies Inc., R.W. Beckett Corp., Rudolph Libbe/GEM Inc., SSOE Group, The Lathrop Co. and ZF Group. 

“The current job outlook for engineering students in The University of Toledo College of Engineering is certainly bright as evidenced by the record number registered to attend the college’s spring career expo,” said Dr. Vickie Kuntz, director of the Engineering Career Development Center that hosts the event. “Employers are seeking undergraduate students to participate in engineering co-op assignments, as well as their leadership development programs. Employers are also seeking seniors and graduates for full-time employment.”

The college hosts semiannual career expos to give students the opportunity to network with potential employers.

“The University of Toledo College of Engineering’s undergraduate mandatory paid co-op program is one of only eight mandatory engineering co-op programs in the country,” Kuntz said. “Our students experience one full year of professional engineering experience before they graduate, and they feel confident seeking full-time employment upon graduation. Co-op businesses are able to work with these students and are able to determine how the student fits within their organization. It’s a win-win situation for our students and the companies who hire them.”

UT to celebrate Engineers Week by inspiring wonder in elementary, high school students

The University of Toledo will bring engineering to life for elementary and high school students in celebration of Engineers Week.

The theme of this year’s events is “Inspiring Wonder.”

Discover Engineering is a free, public event geared toward elementary school students and their families; it will take place Sunday, Feb. 18, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Lois and Norman Nitschke Auditorium. It includes a showing of the movie “Dream Big,” followed by hands-on activities organized by College of Engineering students.

The College of Engineering also will host its first Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day for students in fifth through eighth grades. Starting at 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, girls from the Toledo area will tour UT’s engineering facilities and have lunch with College of Engineering students and professional engineers before spending the afternoon doing hands-on activities.

Area high school students will get the opportunity to be an Engineer for a Day Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 9 a.m. on when they tour UT’s engineering facilities and have lunch with College of Engineering students and professional engineers before spending the afternoon shadowing a practicing engineering professional in the community.

“Participants will learn that engineering is not just about being good at math and science. It requires curiosity, creativity and teamwork, and it is also fun,” said Dr. Lesley Berhan, associate professor in the UT Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, and interim assistant dean of diversity, inclusion and community engagement. “About 20 percent of engineering degrees nationwide are awarded to women. We hope the students are inspired to see their future selves working in one of the many different fields of engineering to design, invent and create things to make our world better, safer, healthier and cleaner.”

Staff Leadership Development Program to improve careers, UT’s future

The University of Toledo has launched its inaugural class of the UT Staff Leadership Development Program to cultivate high-potential emerging leaders who, in the years ahead, may assume leadership roles, as well as grow in their current positions.

“In alignment with UT’s strategic plan to foster a culture of excellence for our faculty and staff, we’ve launched this program to provide a more formal process for career development for employees at all levels throughout the University,” said President Sharon L. Gaber.

“The program is designed to assist participants with honing leadership skills, as well as to expose them to cross-campus networking and dialogue with many current leaders,” stated Wendy Davis, associate vice president for human resources and talent development.

“A selection committee chose this first class based on their leadership potential and selected individuals from across all campuses, as well as from many different job categories throughout the organization,” Davis explained. “In addition to experienced UT faculty and leaders who guide class discussions, this diversity helps to ensure participants are exposed to many different perspectives on any given topic.”

The program, which launched in October 2017 and concludes in October 2018 with a capstone project, requires members to spend approximately three hours each month discussing topics such as fiscal responsibilities; human resources policies and procedures; health-care operations; student recruitment and enrollment management; creating a culture of customer service; ethical leadership; career success; and legal issues in higher education.

“These individuals also are required to complete summer reading assignments on various leadership topics,” said Carrie Herr, director for the Center for Continuous Improvement, who was instrumental in developing the curriculum. “I see much potential in this first class. The skills they hone over the next several months should have a significant impact on UT throughout the next decade and beyond.”

The cohort selected for the inaugural class of UT’s Staff Leadership Development Program are Cristina Alvarado, College of Medicine and Life Sciences; Stefanie Bias, Neurosciences; Stacey Jo Brown, Legal Affairs; Candace Busdiecker, College of Medicine and Life Sciences; Lori DeShetler, Judith Herb College of Education; Josh Dittman, Intercollegiate Athletics; Kelly Donovan, Controller’s Office; Shelly Drouillard, Career Services; Jamie Fager, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Beth Gerasimiak, Office of the Provost; Melissa Hansen, Medical Education; Heather Huntley, Office of the Provost; Angelica Johnson, College of Arts and Letters; Deirdre Jones, Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales in the College of Business and Innovation; Vickie Kuntz, Engineering Career Development Center in the College of Engineering; Sara Lockett, Purchasing/Finance; Elliott Nickeson, Registrar’s Office; Daniel Perry, Facilities and Construction; Tiffany Preston-Whitman, University College; Jason Rahe, Division of Technology and Advanced Solutions; Staci Sturdivant, College of Health and Human Services; Craig Turner, College of Business and Innovation; and Matthew Wise, Division of Technology and Advanced Solutions.

“It is wonderful to see the University focus so many resources on developing the next generation of leadership in higher education,” said Dr. Jenell L. S. Wittmer, associate professor of management, who facilitates sessions on communication with diverse groups and emotional intelligence. “The participants bring their work experiences into the classroom, and they are learning from each other. This program is a perfect example of the positive transformation underway at UT.”

UT, AAA to kick off series of free, public seminars on autonomous vehicles Feb. 7

As vehicles equipped with self-driving technologies are poised to become the future of transportation, The University of Toledo College of Engineering and AAA Northwest Ohio are teaming up to host a series of free, public talks to educate consumers about how smart cars will impact the world.

The first seminar in the bimonthly series to help drivers be informed, prepared and comfortable with the shift in mobility will be Wednesday, Feb. 7, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Lois and Norman Nitschke Auditorium. General Motors will have an autonomous vehicle on site.

Speakers will include Dave Hobbs, field service training instructor for Delphi Products and Service Solutions, and Greg Brannon, director of automotive engineering and industry relations for AAA. Both speakers will participate in a panel discussion featuring UT engineering researchers Dr. Eddie Chou, Dr. Ahmad Javaid and Dr. Jared Oluoch.

“The biggest impact of autonomous vehicles in the near future will be a significant reduction in the number of traffic crashes, therefore saving thousands of lives each year,” said Chou, professor of civil engineering and director of the Transportation Systems Research Laboratory at UT. “It will fundamentally change transportation mobility and how people travel.”

An autonomous vehicle will be on display for students to view inside the Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex in the Brady Engineering Innovation Center from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

“Autonomous cars have the potential to reduce traffic congestion, provide infotainment services to road users, and reduce carbon emissions,” said Oluoch, UT assistant professor of computer science and engineering technology. “While this is a promising technology, it also is a double-edged sword. Security concerns and job losses are emerging as some of the primary challenges of autonomous-vehicle technology. This seminar series is the first among many to highlight the technology behind autonomous cars and the promise it holds for the future.”

Register for the free, public seminar online here.

The next event in the series will be Friday, April 13, and focus on the topic of autonomous vehicles and cybersecurity.

American drivers are beginning to embrace self-driving vehicles, with male and millennial drivers most accepting of the new automotive technology, according to a new study by AAA.

The annual survey reveals that 63 percent of U.S. drivers report feeling afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, a decrease from 78 percent in early 2017. Millennial and male drivers are the most trusting of autonomous technologies, with only half of those drivers reporting they would be afraid to ride in a self-driving car.

“Americans are starting to feel more comfortable with the idea of self-driving vehicles,” Brannon said. “Compared to just a year ago, AAA found that 20 million more U.S. drivers would trust a self-driving vehicle to take them for a ride.”

The new survey results come as state officials take steps to move the conversation on autonomous vehicles forward in Ohio. The Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee began hearings on the development of the new technology last year.

College of Engineering dedicates new Owens-Illinois Conference Room

The University of Toledo dedicated the new Owens-Illinois Conference Room in the College of Engineering last week to celebrate the new meeting space made possible by a gift from the glass manufacturing company to support UT’s engineering and business programs.

The conference room is located in Nitschke Hall Room 4020 and is part of the Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department.

Dr. Hassan HassabElnaby, interim dean of the College of Business and Innovation, left, and Dr. Michael Toole, dean of the College of Engineering, held the ribbon for Ludovic Valette, global vice president of research and development at Owens-Illinois Inc., left, and Adam Hafer, manager of the Innovation Center, Global Technologies EH&S, and Perrysburg Properties at Owens-Illinois, to cut Jan. 10 to mark the dedication of the new Owens-Illinois Conference Room in Nitschke Hall.

“The support of our corporate partners makes it possible for the College of Engineering to provide a first-rate experience to our students,” said Dr. Michael Toole, dean of the College of Engineering. “O-I has been a long-term partner with the College of Engineering, and their leadership support has impacted many of our students throughout the years.”

The new conference room is supported by a $250,000 commitment O-I made in 2015 to support the College of Engineering and the College of Business and Innovation. The new Owens-Illinois Finance Tutoring Lab opened last year in Stranahan Hall.

Following the ceremony, UT and O-I officials had lunch in the new space.

In addition to the facilities improvements, the gift from O-I provides financial support for key initiatives, including the Engineering Innovation Fund, O-I National Society of Black Engineers Scholarship Fund and O-I Society for Women Engineers Scholarship Fund in the College of Engineering and the O-I Corporate Finance Scholars Tutoring Program in the College of Business and Innovation.

“O-I has been a tremendous friend to the College of Business and Innovation in many ways, such as through their support of our annual student Pacemaker Awards and by providing the first-place prize for the college business plan competition,” said Dr. Hassan HassabElnaby, interim dean of the College of Business and Innovation. “We were pleased and honored to welcome the O-I executive team so that they could see and touch some of these things, and so that we could thank them in person.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist to deliver UT commencement address Dec. 17

Toledo native and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael D. Sallah will return to his alma mater Sunday, Dec. 17, to deliver the keynote address during The University of Toledo’s fall commencement ceremony.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. in Savage Arena.


Sallah will address 2,067 candidates for degrees, including 118 doctoral, 523 master’s, 1,370 bachelor’s and 56 associate’s.

The ceremony is open to the public and can be viewed live at video.utoledo.edu.

Sallah’s investigative work as a reporter and editor with award-winning newspapers across the country has revealed public corruption, police abuses and government blunders, resulting in grand jury investigations, legislative reform, and the recovery of millions of taxpayer dollars.

He is a reporter on the national investigations team at USA Today/Gannett Network in Washington, D.C.

“This is where it all began for me,” Sallah said. “From the time I took my first journalism class in the fall of my freshman year, I fell in love with journalism, and UT is a big part of that. It’s part of my foundation — the professors, the values they conveyed to me about journalism, and why it’s so critical to our society, especially investigative work. I’m honored to be coming home to be the commencement speaker.”

“Journalists have an important role to inform the public about the issues that affect our lives, and Michael Sallah has embraced that responsibility uncovering many misdeeds through investigative reporting that resulted in positive change,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “I look forward to him sharing with our graduates how he got his start here in Toledo and inspiring them to stay curious and serve their communities.”

Born in Toledo, Sallah is a 1977 alumnus of The University of Toledo, graduating cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism. He was named UT’s Outstanding Alumnus in the Social Sciences in 2004. Sallah also is a 1973 graduate of St. John’s Jesuit High School.

He was a reporter and national affairs writer at The Blade for more than a decade, and was the lead reporter on the 2003 project “Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths” that exposed the U.S. Army’s longest war crimes case of the Vietnam War. The series won numerous national awards, including the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.

While investigations editor and reporter at the Miami Herald, Sallah led an inquiry into local corruption. His team’s 2006 “House of Lies” series exposed widespread fraud in Miami-Dade County public housing and earned the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. He was named a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his series “Neglected to Death,” which uncovered deadly conditions in Florida assisted-living facilities, led to the closing of 13 facilities, and was the impetus for a gubernatorial task force to overhaul state law.

During his two years at The Washington Post, Sallah received a Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism for an investigation that exposed a predatory system of tax collection in the District of Columbia. 

He returned to the Miami Herald in 2014 and was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2016 for uncovering one of the nation’s most corrupt sting operations in a police unit that laundered $71.5 million for drug cartels, kept millions for brokering the deals, and failed to make a single significant arrest. 

Sallah is the author of the books “Tiger Force: A True Story of Men and War” and “Yankee Comandante: The Untold Story of Courage, Passion and One American’s Fight to Liberate Cuba.” He also was a consultant for the Public Broadcasting Service documentary “American Experience.”

UT’s fall commencement ceremony will recognize graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters; Business and Innovation; Judith Herb College of Education; Engineering; Graduate Studies; Health and Human Services; Honors College; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Nursing; and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and University College.

For more information, visit utoledo.edu/commencement.