College of Engineering announces 2011-12 Carver Fellows
Four Engineering at Illinois graduate students have received prestigious Roy J. Carver Fellowships in Engineering.aerospace engineering, Allison Goodwell, civil and environmental engineering, Frederick Douglas, computer science, and Brian Harding, electrical and computer engineering. Nominated by their departments, each student received a stipend to support first-year graduate education and research.
A highly competitive honor, Carver Fellowships are awarded to select students who are viewed as exemplary scholars and researchers in academia and industry and as representatives of the legacy of Roy J. Carver, a distinguished University of Illinois alumnus.
Department of Aerospace Engineering
“Receiving the Carver Fellowship was an honor and acknowledges my past accomplishments and my ability to succeed at the University of Illinois as a researcher,” Coppola said. “The support provided by the Carver Fellowship has given me the flexibility to explore research areas that I find interesting and impactful on the needs of society.”
Coppola’s goal is to invent next-generation materials that “expand the possibilities of technology. I believe multifunctional materials are one of the keys to unlocking the next big breakthroughs.”
He developed an interest in materials as an undergraduate at the University of Delaware, where he conducted research on the use of carbon nanotubes as damage sensors and also on the restoration of damaged nanotube networks through self-healing. At Illinois, Coppola is investigating aspects of fiber-reinforced polymer composites that utilize a bio-inspired vascular network to achieve multifunctionality, including self-healing, thermal management, and energy storage. Working with Professor Scott White in the Autonomous Materials Systems Group, Coppola’s work is focused on characterizing the effect of a vascular network on the mechanical properties of composites and optimizing design of the network to maximize delivery of a functional fluid.
“I chose Illinois because of the innovative and colloborative atmosphere and the people I met here. Research is by no means an individual effort, and working together is the key to accomplishing something amazing,” he said.
As part of his research, Coppola is developing new ways to manufacture vascular networks to mimic natural systems, such as the circulatory system in many organisms that include branches, varying geometries, and flow control. In contrast to a system composed of many materials, each performing a different specified task, the new, multifunctional materials are engineered to perform a whole systems worth of tasks. That can greatly impact the weight and volume of a system, he explained.
“Multifunctional materials provide a new way of approaching the design of an engineered system,” Coppola said.
Department of Computer Science
Carver Fellowships provide students with freedom to explore new and novel research areas, which was critical to Douglas. He came to Illinois from Case Western Reserve University after earning dual degrees in mathematics and computer science. A 2010 research internship with Manoj Prabhakaran in the Information Trust Institute at Illinois led him to think more about theoretical cryptography, and that led him back to Illinois when it came time to choose a university to prepare for a career in academia and research.
Since coming to Illinois, Douglas has worked with Prabhakaran on secure multi-party computation, a topic in theoretical cryptography. He also is working with Matthew Caesar on a project to develop a routing protocol that does not leak information about the network.
“The Department of Computer Science at Illinois is one of the world’s very best, and I’m thrilled to be here,” Douglas said. “Without the Carver Fellowship, I wouldn’t have felt like I had the time to enter into the project with Professor Caesar. The fellowship helped encourage me to try to work with him, since I felt that exploration of research topics was something I should do to be in keeping with the spirit of the award.”
Increasingly, his research interests encompass privacy issues related to Internet use, and include developing systems that provide individuals with greater privacy. He is motivated in part by recent events that have revealed how governments around the world are using the Internet activities of individuals to take action against those individuals.
“In short, the impact of this research is privacy and the damaging effects it can have on repressive governments,” said Douglas
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Assessing the impacts of flooding and other stressors on landscapes is one interest of Goodwell, whose graduate school criteria included “not just interesting and exciting research but also a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.”
“At Illinois, I found exactly that,” said Goodwell, who is preparing for a career in hydrology research or academia.
“I feel extremely honored to be selected as a Carver Fellow, and view it as vote of confidence in my abilities, ambitions, and ultimate hopes to benefit society—to further the knowledge in my field and become a mentor for other women in engineering and research,” she said. “I am proud to be a part of this Illinois tradition and motivated to uphold the legacy of past recipients.”
At Purdue University, she had an undergraduate research fellowship to study Lake Michigan upwellings, events which enhance thermal and nutrient mixing in the lake during the summer months. That experience prepared her for graduate research at Illinois, where she is working with Praveen Kumar in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to study the impacts of flooding on landscapes. She is also evaluating landscape vulnerability due to natural- and human-induced stressors. She is currently using Lidar topography data to identify areas of erosion, deposition, and vegetation changes in floodways.
“It is important to understand how rapid changes in land use impact landscapes, especially since so many floodplains have been disconnected from their rivers and converted to agriculture in the past century,” Goodwell said. “This research is also relevant from a floodplain management and policy perspective and could aid in future land use and flood control policies.”
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Harding’s goal is to advance research related to remote sensing. At Cornell University, he gained research experience with inverse methods on a senior project to reverse-engineer the Iridium satellites’ antenna designs in order to use the satellite constellation to augment GPS. He also contributed to a research project at Space Systems/Loral to model and predict the electromagnetic impact of thermal distortions on the satellite antenna’s beam pointing error.
Harding chose Illinois for graduate study because the “simultaneous depth and breadth of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department is unparalleled.”
Working with Jonathan Makela in the Remote Sensing and Space Science group at Illinois, Harding uses optical techniques to study ionospheric dynamics and infer parameters such as electron density, thermospheric wind, and temperature. He is also developing tomographic inversion algorithms for reconstructing 3D movies of the ionosphere based on data from multiple ground-based all-sky imagers. Ionospheric physics could be key to addressing problems of “space weather,” he noted.
“Understanding the ionosphere is important because it reflects radio signals, supporting over-the-horizon communication, and it is also the medium through which satellite communication must propagate,” he said. “Unfortunately, we do not yet understand the dynamics well enough to predict the ionospheric storms that disrupt these links. As our society becomes ever more reliant on space-based communication links and GPS, it becomes ever more important to understand the medium in which these systems are operating.”
Harding plans to be involved in mentoring and tutoring at Illinois, and is considering a career in academia.
“The Carver Fellowship allows me to pursue the most interesting research problems unconstrained by financial or personal concerns,” he said. “This fellowship is a recognition of my past achievements but also a gesture of faith in my potential. It creates a sense of responsibility that is much more personally motivating than that gained from a typical employer–employee relationship.”
About the Roy J. Carver Fellowships
The Roy J. Carver Fellowships in Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign were established in 1999 by a gift from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust in memory of Roy J. Carver, Sr., a 1934 graduate of the University. The first class of Carver Fellows was named in the fall of 2000.
Carver was an engineer, industrialist, and philanthropist whose foresight, enterprising spirit, and judgment exemplify how engineering skill can be combined with business acumen to advance technology. He earned a bachelor’s degree in general engineering in 1934 from the University of Illinois. In the late 1930s, he formed the Carver Pump Company to produce a self-priming pump that he designed, and he made the company a successful business enterprise despite the economic challenges of the Great Depression. In 1942, he established Carver Foundry Products, and he later founded Bandag, Inc., which became the world standard of quality in retreaded tires and equipment for the transportation industry.
Contact: Jonathan Hill, director of advancement, College of Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 217/265-6567.
If you have any questions about the College of Engineering, or other story ideas, contact Rick Kubetz, writer/editor, Engineering Communications Office, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; 217/244-7716.