Engineering Systems and Environment Briefs

Welcome to Engineering Systems and Environment Briefs, a place to find quick notes and posts from our department faculty, students, staff and alumni.

    Paper in Remote Sensing Assesses Downstream Impacts from Ethiopia’s Contentious Dam

    February 22, 2021

    Prakrut Kansara_media.jpg

    Engineering systems and environment Ph.D. student Prakrut Kansara and his advisor, Professor Venkat Lakshmi, have published a paper in the journal Remote Sensing assessing the impact of the new Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Ethiopia finished construction on the dam, built on the Blue Nile, in July 2020. The Blue Nile flows into the Nile River in Sudan, providing much of the Nile’s water volume, before entering Egypt.

    The dam’s reservoir is filling rapidly, raising fears and geopolitical tensions over water shortages downstream in Egypt and Sudan, which rely on the Nile River for nearly all of their fresh water and agricultural irrigation systems. Kansara’s research team is using remote sensing data to monitor the reservoir. The paper discusses their observations and the potential flood and drought implications for Egypt and Sudan.

    IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society Recognizes ESE Professor’s Research

    January 13, 2021

    B. Brian Park, a professor in the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment, has received the 2014 George N. Saridis Best Transactions Paper Award for Outstanding Research for a paper in IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems. Park co-authored the work with former Ph.D. student Joyoung Lee, now an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Awards for years 2014-2017 were announced in the journal’s December 2020 issue.

    Park and Lee’s paper, “Development and evaluation of a cooperative vehicle intersection control algorithm under the connected vehicles environment,” was published in the IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 81–90, Mar. 2012.

    In 2015, the Board of Governors of IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society approved a proposal to name the Best Paper Award in IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems as the George N. Saridis Best Transactions Paper Award. According to the announcement, 2014-2017 winners were named “after nearly five years of preparation and planning, and almost one year of hard and concentrated effort by the Award Committee.”

    Read the full announcement here.

    IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems is a journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a premier publication for basic and applied research to expand knowledge on transportation. It focuses on the design, analysis and control of information technology as it is applied to transportation systems.

    Park also is an affiliated faculty member of UVA Engineering’s Link Lab, an interdisciplinary center for cyber-physical research, and director of the Traffic Operations Laboratory.

    Defining Donor Characteristics for Pediatric Heart Transplants

    January 13, 2021

    Michael D. Porter, an associate professor in the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment, and his collaborator at UVA Children’s Hospital Heart Center, associate professor and a pediatric cardiologist Michael McCulloch, have received one of five pilot funding grants from the Integrated Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia.

    Their project aims to reduce the number of deaths among pediatric patients who die while on the waiting list for heart transplants, the standard of care for pediatric patients with end-stage heart failure or inoperable congenital defects, according to UVA Today. Porter and McCulloch will analyze donor echocardiographic data to identify which donor characteristics contribute to positive heart transplant recipient outcomes. The goal is to increase the odds of successful pediatric heart transplants.

    The Integrated Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia, known as iTHRIV, is a National Institutes of Health-funded Clinical and Translational Research Award hub. The grants provide support for early-phase research projects to help accelerate discovery or innovations in the researchers’ areas of study. Read more here.

    Porter has a joint appointment in UVA’s School of Data Science.

    Associate Professor Qing “Cindy” Chang Receives National Recognition for Her Work in Smart Manufacturing

    June 10, 2020


    Associate Professor Qing “Cindy” Chang Elected as an ASME Fellow and Named One of the 20 Most Influential Professors by SME

    Qing "Cindy" Chang, an associate professor who has joint appointment in the Departments of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Systems and Environment, was recently elected as a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), a national honor for eminent professors in mechanical engineering and typically reserved for full professors.

    Chang was also recognized as one the 20 most influential professors in smart manufacturing in the nation by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) . The society stated that “Chang is a pioneer in data-driven modeling and real-time production control and decision-making to improve the efficiency of manufacturing systems…Her work has been implemented in many General Motors plants in North America and demonstrated significant improvement in operational efficiency and economic benefit…it will potentially enable even greater economic benefits for many other industries.”

    “The focus on data-driven manufacturing requires future engineers to acquire training in data science, which is an enabling skill in the smart manufacturing field,” said Chang.

    Read more:

    ESE Ph.D. Student Recognized at University Level

    May 28, 2020

    Sarah Gustitus-Graham has received an all-University Graduate Teaching Award in recognition of her dedication and outstanding achievement. In the award notification, it was noted that the selection committee “was overwhelmed with the quality and dedication reflected in this year’s nominations, and yours was among the top of those submitted.”

    Gustitus-Graham was recognized for her efforts co-instructing the Introduction to Environmental Engineering lecture with the Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award. She became a co-instructor when she was selected as a Graduate Teaching Fellow for the spring 2019 semester. Prior to co-instructing this course, Gustitus-Graham served as a teaching assistant for the Introduction to Environmental Engineering lab as well as the Introduction to Geoenvironmental Engineering lab. Read more in UVA Today.


    Professor Goodall Will Co-Chair Committee for Virginia Created Through Legislative Action

    May 22, 2020

    Engineering Systems and Environment professor Jon Goodall will co-chair and serve as a subject matter expert for a new study committee of the Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine (VASEM) initiated through Virginia Senate Joint Resolution No. 38, passed during the 2020 session of the Virginia General Assembly. The resolution directs the Joint Commission on Technology and Science to “study the safety, quality of life and economic consequences of weather and climate-related events on coastal areas in Virginia.”

    The Virginia Academy was created in 2013 in the mold of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to serve a similar purpose for the commonwealth — to bring together accomplished and innovative leaders in science, engineering and medicine to carry out studies and provide nonpartisan, objective guidance to decision-makers on the most challenging issues of the day.

    Goodall will co-chair the new committee with Antonio Elias, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Virginia Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine, where he serves as secretary and treasurer, and retired executive vice president and chief technical officer of Orbital ATK.

    Two Engineering Systems and Environment Students Named 2020 School of Engineering Outstanding Students

    May 13, 2020

    Students from the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment, Anna L. Cerf and Emily C. Chen, have won two of the four 2020 School of Engineering Outstanding Student Awards. The award is given to a student or students — typically graduating fourth-years — who have demonstrated outstanding academic performance, leadership and service. It is one of UVA Engineering’s highest student honors.

    UVA Team Wins Environmental Design Competition, Qualifies for National Event

    April 24, 2020

    A team of University of Virginia undergraduates won first place in the Virginia Water Environment Association Student Design Competition, making them eligible to represent Virginia at a national competition in the fall.

    Civil engineering major Hania Abboud, systems engineering majors Ekaterina Forkin and Jason Jabbour, and environmental sciences major Anna Liang devised the winning design project, which proposes new infrastructure in the courtyard between UVA Engineering’s Olsson and Thornton halls to address stormwater management in the area. Winners were announced following team presentations on April 17, which took place by videoconference.

    The win comes with the opportunity for the team to compete in New Orleans at the 93rd annual Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference Oct. 3-7, a national event known as WEFTEC.

    The team also entered the proposal in the EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge, a green infrastructure design competition sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for American colleges and universities. Winners of the EPA challenge have not been announced.

    “I’ve been so impressed with these students,” Brian Smith, professor and chair of the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment, said. “The design they came up with proposes practical solutions to real stormwater challenges at the site they selected, and I love that the team is made up of undergraduates in different majors. It’s fantastic how they have taken their work beyond the classroom this year. I feel fortunate to be able to work with students like them.”


    Above, UVA team members and competition judges and organizers are shown on a video conference call. Presenting remotely didn't stop the UVA team from taking top honors.