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  • Monday, August 08, 2011 1:49 PM | Anonymous


    Rice News staff

    Rice University trustee, alumnus and benefactor M. Kenneth Oshman '62 died Aug. 6 after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 71. 

    Oshman and his wife of 49 years, Barbara, donated the lead gift to Rice to establish the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK), which was dedicated in December 2008.


    In a letter to Rice trustees, President David Leebron and Board of Trustees Chairman Jim Crownover wrote, "Ken was a larger-than-life figure who excelled as an entrepreneur and business leader, a caring philanthropist, and who was always there to support his family and friends. ... He helped Rice in so many ways, including his always direct and sage advice, which he presented with both modesty and clarity."

    His namesake building, which once housed Rice's central food-service operation, has become a point of pride for the George R. Brown School of Engineering. The OEDK gives engineering students a central facility to realize their required design projects, with easy access to a machine shop, a classroom, a wet lab, a welding shop and conference rooms.

    Oshman told the gathering at the OEDK dedication that he and his wife were "looking at what we might be able to do (for Rice) when this idea came up. Barbara, not being an engineer, was not 1,000 percent sure we wanted to become part of something in the engineering department again, despite my love for the school.”

    But the OEDK's mission to provide cross-discipline and cross-technology training not only for engineering students but also those in the humanities, social sciences, architecture and business won her over. “This will be a great base for that kind of education going forward,” he said.

    Maria Oden, OEDK director and a professor in the practice of engineering education, said Oshman's vision is paying rich dividends. She said nine student teams from among 61 that completed projects at the kitchen this year have won recognition in national competitions.

    "My sense was Ken Oshman initially appreciated, maybe more so than any of us here on campus, how this facility would change engineering education at Rice," Oden said. "He saw from the industry perspective what he wanted engineers to be able to do.

    "I think a whole generation of engineering students owe a lot to Ken and his wife's willingness to step forward and support the OEDK," she said.

    "From my perspective, the kitchen is his legacy at Rice," said Sidney Burrus, Rice's Maxfield Oshman Professor Emeritus and former dean of the Brown School of Engineering, whose connection to Oshman goes back to their days at Stanford. The OEDK, he said, "has not only changed Rice, it is a model that is changing higher education in the U.S. and around the world. It is remarkable."

    "I'm delighted that Ken was able to see the OEDK become such a great success, a center of energy and hive of innovation for our undergraduate engineers," said Mark Embree, the John and Ann Doerr Professor and director of the Rice Center For Engineering Leadership. "This space has already transformed student life on campus, and the designs developed there have touched lives half a world away."

    Oshman, a native of Rosenberg, Texas, was co-founder of the ROLM Corporation, a Silicon Valley telecommunications company acquired by IBM in 1984. He was a vice president at IBM until 1986, and chief executive officer of Echelon Corp., a networking company in San Jose, Calif., until 2009. He served as the company's executive chairman until his death.

    After graduating summa cum laude from Rice, Oshman earned his master’s and doctorate degrees at Stanford University while working at Sylvania Corp. He was a member of President Ronald Reagan's economic policy planning committee and a committee to advise the president on high-temperature superconductivity. He received Rice's Distinguished Alumnus Award, was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and served on many corporate boards.

    Oshman is survived by his wife; son and daughter-in-law Peter and Stephanie Oshman; son and daughter-in-law David and Joanna Oshman; four grandchildren; brother and sister-in-law, Rick and Tania Oshman; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

    A memorial service will be held Tuesday in Los Altos Hills, Calif.

  • Thursday, August 04, 2011 3:30 PM | Anonymous


    Rice News staff

    Rice University's low-cost "infantAIR" device -- a global health technology invented by Rice students to help newborns struggling with respiratory distress -- was one of 19 projects selected for seed-grant funding July 29 at the Saving Lives at Birth global health contest in Washington, D.C.

      Rice University's low-cost "infantAIR" device -- a global health technology invented by Rice students to help newborns struggling with respiratory distress -- was one of 19 projects selected for seed-grant funding July 29 at the Saving Lives at Birth global health contest in Washington, D.C.
    The contest, which was jointly sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Norwegian government, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada and the World Bank -- drew more than 600 entries.

    Rice and the 18 other award nominees will now enter into final negotiations before awards can be issued.

    In Rice's project, a team of physicians and engineers from the United States and Malawi will refine Rice's bubble continuous positive airway pressure device -- or bCPAP -- and implement it throughout the African nation of Malawi. The device is designed to help infants breathe when they are struggling with acute respiratory infections, the leading cause of global child mortality.

    "We believe that the bCPAP device has the potential to greatly reduce neonatal mortality related to respiratory distress in low-resource settings, and we are so pleased to have been nominated for funding to implement this life-saving technology in Malawi," said Rebecca Richards-Kortum, director of Rice 360° and the Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering.

    The bCPAP was invented and improved by undergraduates in Rice 360°'s Beyond Traditional Borders program. The students worked at the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen under the mentorship of pediatricians from Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital and the University of Malawi's Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH).

    "The bCPAP is a proven therapy to treat neonates in respiratory distress, but it is often too expensive for hospitals in the developing world," said Beyond Traditional Borders' Jocelyn Brown, who began developing the device in 2009 as part of her senior design course. "The device we developed has been shown to deliver the same therapeutic pressure as the bCPAP setup at Texas Children's Hospital, while costing almost 35 times less."

    In the Saving Lives at Birth competition, Rice proposed a one-year program to refine and test the bCPAP device and to develop a plan to scale up distribution in rural hospitals throughout Malawi. Bioengineers from Rice 360° will collaborate with pediatricians at QECH and Texas Children's as well as with industrial design engineers from 3rd Stone Design.

    Pediatricians from the University of Malawi-QECH will oversee the clinical trials of the device and offer design feedback. The team will also work with physicians at regional hospitals and clinics in Malawi to help facilitate countrywide scale-up.

    A team from Baylor and Texas Children's will expand and refine clinical protocols and job aids for the bCPAP. It will also develop training materials for caregivers, help to assess data gathered in clinical trials and develop easy-to-follow guidelines to help community-health workers recognize infants who would benefit from the device.

    The team from 3rd Stone Design will perform a needs assessment at QECH and surrounding clinics to develop a clinical evaluation unit of the bCPAP device. The team will also determine user expectations and needs and identify engineering, medical, market and regulatory requirements for the bCPAP device.

  • Friday, July 15, 2011 6:00 PM | Anonymous
    Rice's Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center hosted 26 Houston-area high school students July 14, 2011 for a daylong event designed to introduce them to the real-world challenges engineers face. 

    Rice's Jamie Padgett, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, led a 30-minute course on the basics of structural engineering for bridge design. At the end of the talk, the students were divided into five teams and challenged to build bridges using K'nex construction toys. Winners were chosen based on both the amount of weight the bridge held and the number of structural pieces used.
  • Thursday, July 14, 2011 10:33 PM | Anonymous




      Rice student JungWoo Lee, left, explains how his team’s game, "Azmo the Dragon," helps children manage their asthma while teammate Chase Sandmann blows into a digital spirometer to measure his lung capacity. In the game, children control a fire-breathing dragon in part by using the spirometer, which helps parents and doctors monitor lung capacity. 

    A team of Rice University students and recent graduates rode a dragon to high honors this week at Imagine Cup 2011, an international technology competition sponsored by Microsoft that draws thousands of entries every year.

    Team Dragon finished third in the "Game Design -- Mobile" category with its creation, "Azmo the Dragon." The fanciful game has a serious purpose: to take the drudgery out of checking lung capacity for children who suffer from asthma.

    The unique combination of hardware and software incorporates a spirometer -- a tube-like device that measures lung volume -- connected via Bluetooth to a smartphone running Windows 7 Mobile. As the child blows into the tube, the game's central character, Azmo the Dragon, breathes fire. The stronger the child blows, the more fire Azmo breathes and the easier it can battle through various game levels.

    The team members are Lovett College junior JungWoo Lee, Veronica Burkel '11; Martel College sophomore Chase Sandmann and Pierre Elias '11. Joe Warren, professor and chair of Rice's Department of Computer Science, and Dr. Clifford Dacso, a senior member of The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, executive director of the Abramson Center for the Future of Health and an adjunct professor at Rice, are the team's advisers.

    The low-cost, open-source spirometer was developed by a team from the Center for Multimedia Communication (CMC), including Ashutosh Sabharwal, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE); Siddharth Gupta, CMC research engineer; and Peter Chang and Nonso Anyigbo, undergraduates majoring in ECE. The novel hardware, software and game are part of the new Rice Scalable Health Initiative.

    The awards were announced in a ceremony in New York City July 13.

  • Wednesday, July 13, 2011 11:40 AM | Anonymous



    The Rice senior design team Electric Owl took the $10,000 top prize July 12 in Texas Instruments' national Analog Design Competition.

    Electric Owl's members are Jeffrey Bridge, Robert Brockman, Peter Hokanson and Anthony Austin, who each graduated this spring.

    Electric Owl developed a full-custom set of avionics as a technology demonstration for an unmanned aerial vehicle capable of exploring Mars. Starting with a stock balsa wood airframe, the team built an entire avionics system with fully redundant sensors, autopilot control, automatic failover to normal radio-controlled operation, digital telemetry and integrated ground-control software.

    Their tour de force of electronics and software engineering earned them Texas Instruments' 2011 Engibous Prize, the top honor in TI's fourth annual Analog Design Competition. The Engibous Prize, which is named in honor of former TI Chairman Thomas Engibous, includes a $10,000 award.

    Electric Owl also won the award for the Best Conceptual or Computational Project at the Rice Engineering Design Showcase in April.

    Electric Owl was supported financially by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and by NASA through the Texas Space Grants Consortium. The team performed its work at the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen.

  • Wednesday, July 13, 2011 11:17 AM | Anonymous



    It's been a great month for recent Rice engineering alumni who entered senior design projects into high-profile competitions.

      Team Dexter, from left: Rachel Jackson, Allison Scully, Dillon Eng, Jessica Scully and Avery Cate.


    Team Dexter and Team Equiliberators won top honors for separate projects that help rehabilitate young patients, primarily those with cerebral palsy.

    Maria Oden, director of Rice's Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen and a professor in the practice of engineering education, and Marcia O'Malley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, advised the students in collaboration with Shriners Hospital for Children in Houston.

    Team Equiliberators -- bioengineering graduates Drew Berger and mechanical engineering graduates Matt Jones and Michelle Pyle -- was selected as one of the top five finalists (the highest level of recognition) in the Student Design Competition sponsored by the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA). Oden, O’Malley and doctors at Shriners worked with the team to develop a balance-therapy system for cerebral palsy patients that uses Nintendo Wii boards along with innovative force transducers that measure both center of balance and a patient's use of handrails to remain upright. The competition was held June 5-8 in Toronto.

    Team Dexter -- bioengineering graduates Allison Scully and Jessica Scully and mechanical engineering graduates Avery Cate, Dillon Eng and Rachel Jackson -- took the grand prize in the Undergraduate Design Project Competition in Rehabilitation and Assistive Devices at the ASME Bioengineering Conference in Farmington, Pa., June 22-25. The team developed an electronic pegboard to track three-dimensional hand motion; the device helps clinicians assess gains in the dexterity of cerebral palsy patients.

    A third Rice group, Team Strikeout, has been named a finalist in the Global National Instruments LabVIEW Student Design Competition Aug. 1-4 in Austin. The team advised by Gary Woods, a Rice professor in the practice of computer technology, designed a prototype called PitchPALS (Pitch Pressure Analysis & Logging System), a replica baseball with pressure sensors that record the exact pressure and position of a pitcher's hand when delivering a pitch. Team members are electrical engineering graduates Sharon Du, Ashley Herron and Qian Zhang and mechanical engineering graduates Peter Hoagland and Jennifer Sullivan.

  • Tuesday, June 14, 2011 8:53 PM | Anonymous

    Owl engineers win second place at IShow - Rice grads' neonatal syringe pump earns $7,000 prize in national competition

    Rice News staff

    A team of new Rice University graduates took second place and a $7,000 prize in the prestigious IShow competition sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

    Team Zikomo was one of two groups of Rice students among 10 chosen for the fourth annual nationwide competition, held June 11 at the society's convention in Dallas.

      Members of Team Zikomo, which took second place in this year's IShow competition, are, clockwise from top left, Clare Ouyang, Professor Renata Ramos, Yiwen Cui, Rashmi Kamath, Liz Carstens and Cynthia Sung.
    The members -- Cynthia Sung, Yiwen Cui, Rashmi Kamath, Liz Carstens and Clare Ouyang -- demonstrated their neonatal syringe pump for low-resource settings. The pump is a user-friendly, accurate, inexpensive and robust device that simplifies the intravenous delivery of small volumes of medication at low flow rates. Because the pump is gravity- and clockwork-driven, it requires no electricity. It was developed at Rice's Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK).

    "We believe this product has vast potential because of the number of places worldwide that don't have electrical power and where IV fluid and medications need to be delivered in precise amounts," said Maria Oden, professor in the practice of engineering education and director of the OEDK. Oden will discuss the concept with health care providers in Swaziland, Botswana and Malawi this summer while interns with Rice's Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB) program refine the device.

    Oden said two members of the team, Cui and Carstens, worked at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Malawi on behalf of BTB last summer and saw the need for their device firsthand. "They saw how critically important this is and shared that with their teammates, who really got engaged solving the problem."

    She said the team included bioengineering and mechanical engineering majors who employed their skills "in a way that any single discipline might not have been able to do as effectively."

    Oden and Renata Ramos, lecturer in bioengineering; Tracy Volz, senior lecturer in professional communication in the George R. Brown School of Engineering; Kim Kimmey, lecturer in communications at the Jones Graduate School of Business; and Thomas Kraft, director of technology ventures development for Rice Alliance, mentored the team.

    Team MAVerick -- Rice graduates Rhodes Coffey, Chris Cromer, David McMahon and Stephen Vargo Williams -- also competed with a device to harvest energy for unmanned micro air vehicles.

    This year's top prize of $10,000 went to a team from Johns Hopkins University, which demonstrated a port to provide access to blood in dialysis patients and reduce the number of surgeries these patients require. The HEMOVA team also took third in the Rice Business Plan Competition life sciences category in April.

    The only other Rice students to ever participate in IShow, the PRIME team, won first prize in 2009 for its hand-strength measurement device.

    BTB sponsored Team Zikomo through a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

  • Thursday, May 26, 2011 3:00 PM | Anonymous

    After a long, hard year of teamwork and late nights, engineering seniors wrapped up their capstone design projects, showing them off a the annual Design Showcase in April 2011. Read about that event and some of the individual stories below.

    aedteam2011_01 climatears2011_01 wiiteam2011_01 brownfields2011_01 solarautoclave23011_01 electricowls2011_01 childmanneq2011_01 poshteam2011_01 baseballeng2011_01 ishow2011_01 nasashowcase2011_01
  • Wednesday, May 11, 2011 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Students create high-tech baseball for pitch analysis - 
    Meeting between Rice students and coach leads to sensor-covered ball

    Rice News staff

    At Rice University, there's no need to be a baseball fan to get into the spirit of the game.

    That was certainly the case for Team Strikeout, five undergraduate engineering students who were never much into America's pastime until they set out to create a high-tech ball that could help coaches analyze how a pitcher's grip affects performance.


    Pictured from left are Peter Hoagland, Sharon Du, Jenny Sullivan, Henry Zhang and Ashley Herron. They members of Team Strikeout, which created a high-tech ball that could help coaches analyze how a pitcher's grip affects their performance.


    The team's Pitch Pressure Analysis and Logging System (Pitch PALS) has the same weight and feel of a regular baseball, but it's covered with force sensors and filled with electronics.

    When a pitcher throws the ball, it records the exact location of the fingers and the precise amount of force each finger exerts throughout the pitcher's windup and delivery. The force information is presented on a computer screen alongside a high-speed video of the throw and allows both player and coach to analyze how the grip on the ball affected the outcome of the throw.

    Development of Pitch PALS began early last fall, when Rice seniors Henry Zhang, Jenny Sullivan, Ashley Herron, Sharon Du and Peter Hoagland were searching for an idea for their senior design project. Their adviser, Gary Woods, a faculty member in Rice's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, set up a meeting with Rice Owls assistant coach David Pierce.

    Building the prototype took months, but the ball performed well during several rounds of tests. The team applied for a patent for their design, and Woods and the members of Team Strikeout -- all of whom are graduating this weekend -- hope another team of engineering students will modify and improve upon the design next fall.

    "Right now we have a proof-of-concept, but we'd like to add Bluetooth wireless so that we can get the data from the ball without attaching a wire," Du said. "That would allow us to add a leather cover and have the feel of the seams around the baseball."

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