In Brief

$550k software package enhances EE education and research 

The School of Engineering was recently provided with ETAP power lab software, a state-of-the-art tool used by leading electrical power systems industries worldwide. ETAP, an acronym for Electrical Transient and Analysis Program, provided the package valued at $552,637.

Dr. Mohammad Rasouli, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, said Electrical Engineering students are already using the software to conduct power systems analysis.

“Blending ETAP into our Power System Analysis curriculum, which is being offered for the first time at Behrend, gives student an excellent opportunity to learn and apply essential power system concepts,” Rasouli said.

Penn State president Eric Barron, center left, and Penn State Behrend chancellor Ralph Ford, center right, cut the ribbon on Innovation Commons. They were joined by, from left, Samuel P. “Pat” Black III, chairman of Erie Managmeent Group and longtime supporter of Penn State Behrend; Neil Sharkey, vice president for research at Penn State; Madlyn Hanes, vice president for commonwealth campuses at Penn State; Kathy Dahlkemper, Erie County executive; Perry Wood, executive director of the Erie County Gaming Rev

Penn State president Eric Barron, center left, and Penn State Behrend chancellor Ralph Ford, center right, cut the ribbon on Innovation Commons. They were joined by, from left, Samuel P. “Pat” Black III, chairman of Erie Managmeent Group and longtime supporter of Penn State Behrend; Neil Sharkey, vice president for research at Penn State; Madlyn Hanes, vice president for commonwealth campuses at Penn State; Kathy Dahlkemper, Erie County executive; Perry Wood, executive director of the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority; and Scott McCain, chairman of the Penn State Behrend Council of Fellows.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

New lab inspires innovation, entrepreneurship 

There are many labs in Burke Center, but none like the newest one. Innovation Commons is an idea laboratory, maker space, technology playground, legal office, marketing agency, and entrepreneurs’ gathering spot all under one roof and adaptable to the needs of inventors and entrepreneurs.

The lab, which is equipped with 3D modeling/design/analysis software, scanners and 3D printers for prototyping, was partially funded by a $50,000 Invent Penn State seed grant. Invent Penn State is an initiative launched last year to leverage the University’s research, knowledge, and entrepreneurial spirit in order to drive job creation, economic development, and student career success.

The space is also part of a $1.5 million Ignite Erie job creation initiative, a partnership of Penn State Behrend, Mercyhurst University, and the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority.

Student hackers do well in competitions

When it comes to cybersecurity, it’s common to fight fire with fire. For every hacker with criminal intentions, there are dozens of “good” hackers working to thwart them and protect companies and consumers from malicious software and cyberattacks.

Penn State Behrend engineering students have been proving their mettle in this growing field, placing well in two large hacking competitions.

Capture the Flag

More than two dozen students in a cybersecurity class taught by Dr. Zhifeng Xiao, assistant professor of computer science and software engineering, participated in Capture the Flag (CTF), a 48-hour hacking competition hosted by New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering.

“CTF is the most influential hacking competition for college students and one of the best venues for our cybersecurity students to practice offensive security skills they’ve learned at Behrend,” said Dr. Meng Su, associate professor and chair of computer science and software engineering.

Behrend’s team hacked its way to the top, ranking in the top 10 percent of the 2,400 teams that participated!

HackPSU

Last spring, Software Engineering major Rachel Rattay and Computer Science major Robert Hansen teamed up with two students from other Penn State campuses and won the API Challenge at HackPSU, a 24-hour hacking competition hosted by University Park.

The API (Application Programming Interface) Challenge awarded $2,500 in bitcoins, a digital currency, to the team that used the API library in the most creative and useful way.

Rattay and Hansen’s team won the competition with Coin Rider, a game developed to teach users how the Bitcoin market works.

Faculty and Staff News

New Faculty and Staff

The school welcomed eleven new faculty members: Dr. Charlotte DeVries, assistant professor of mechanical engineering; Dr. Naseem Ibrahim, assistant professor of computer science and software engineering; Dr. Paul Lynch, assistant professor of industrial engineering; Dr. Xinwei Niu, visiting assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering technology; Dr. Richard Zhao, lecturer in computer science and software engineering; and lecturers in mechanical engineering Jill Johnson, Brian Lani, Dr. Barukyah Shaparenko, Dr. Yustianto Tjiptowidjojo, Dr. David Beevers, and Dr. Amir Danesh-Yazdi.

Award Recipients

Five faculty members were recognized with school awards in 2015: Dr. Alicyn Rhoades, associate professor of engineering, Excellence in Research Award; Dr. Nancy Study, lecturer in engineering, Excellence in Outreach Award; Dr. Bill Lasher, professor of mechanical engineering, Excellence in Service Award; Dr. E. George Walters, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, Excellence in Teaching Award; Rich England, associate professor of engineering, Excellence in Advising Award. Denise Brooks, research assistant for the School of Engineering, recently received a University faculty and staff achievement award for excellence in staff support. She was honored at a ceremony at University Park.

Sabbatical

Dr. Wen-Li Wang, associate professor of computer science and software engineering, has returned from a sabbatical where he researched wind energy storage/generation and algorithms to minimize the cost of green power network connections spreading over diverse terrains. Dr. Rob Weissbach, associate professor of engineering, will begin a one-year sabbatical this fall. He plans to conduct research that will improve prediction of the energy storage needs of an off-grid residence through improved simulation of the variation of available wind energy at a given site.