Category: CMS-Engineering & Physics

Student Highlight: Mukesh Tumbapo and Matthew Henry

Two Engineering Physics Master’s Recipients Present Research on Phosphorene and Silicene:

Mukesh Tumbapo and Matthew Henry both completed Master’s degrees in Engineering – Physics last December. Their research was conducted under the direction of UCO Associate Professor Dr. Benjamin Tayo. Ever since the isolation and controlled exploration of the two-dimensional (2D) crystal graphene was made possible (leading to the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010), the scientific community has taken great interest in the possibilities graphene offers for new approaches to DNA sequencing. Despite several major advances, sequencing DNA using graphene has not yet been demonstrated. One of the major hindrances is the hydrophobic nature of graphene’s surface which causes DNA bases to stick to its surface. Matthew and Mukesh have demonstrated, using computational studies, that phosphorene and silicene are promising alternatives to graphene.

Binding energy (in electron-volt) for GNP, PNP, and SNP.

The above figure from their work shows that binding energies of the 4 DNA bases Guanine (G), Adenine (A), Cytosine (C), and Thymine (T) for interaction with graphene nanopore (GNP) are much higher than those for phosphorene nanopore (PNP) and silicene nanopore (SNP). This shows a minimal tendency for bases to stick on phosphorene and silicene, compared to graphene.  Hence the problem of DNA bases sticking to graphene’s surface is not expected for phosphorene and silicone. These results were presented at three national conferences and at two regional conferences, and are also the subject of a manuscript that has been accepted for publication in the journal AIP Advances.

Matthew accepted a position as a Systems Engineer at Boeing, and Mukesh is considering whether to move into the industry or continue his studies in pursuit of a doctorate.

Featured Faculty- Dr. Weldon Wilson Retires After 29 Years of Service to UCO

Dr. Weldon Wilson, professor, and longtime graduate coordinator is retiring at the end of this semester after 29 years at UCO. Dr. Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1973 and a doctorate in physics in 1980, both from Oklahoma State University. Prior to coming to UCO, Dr. Wilson served on the faculty of the University of Central Florida, as well as working a number of years in energy research for both Occidental Oil and Gas Company and Cities Service Oil Company.
Dr. Wilson’s skills and experience in the energy industry proved most beneficial when he served as coordinator for the department’s senior engineering design capstone experience. Dr. Wilson has also served as assistant chair and was crucial in the initial ABET accreditation of the department’s engineering physics and biomedical engineering programs. He has been a key contributor in nearly every one of the department’s improvement initiatives since his arrival at UCO. His thoughtful analysis and ability to push discussion outside of conventional thought patterns will be sorely missed.
While Dr. Wilson will no longer be with us full-time, he plans to continue teaching as an adjunct, and we will certainly continue to pester him for his valuable input on department initiatives moving forward.

Dr. Gang Xu’s Research Continues after U.S. Dept. of Energy Grant

In summer 2019, Dr. Gang Xu received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy for his proposal, “Flagella-Driven Cellular Motility, Transport, & Biomixing: Computational Studies.”  The funding provided Dr. Xu and two of his former research assistants, Erin Drewke and Joseph Wagner, with full support to spend 10 weeks working at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in Berkeley, California.  There they worked with Drs. Ann Almgren and Johannes Blaschke in its Center for Computational Sciences and Engineering to develop a novel simulation capability based on combining state-of-the-art algorithms with empirical models for beating flagella and swimming cells. The new codes are ideally suitable for high-performance computing resources such as those at the Berkeley Lab and also UCO. The results will improve the understanding on the hydrodynamic impacts of flagellar beating and flagella-actuated cell swimming, and provide biophysical and mechanistic basis for development of novel microfluidic and biofuel devices. This experience paved the way for continued collaboration and expanded Dr. Xu’s research capacity.  Erin, a 2020 UCO biomedical engineering graduate, is pursuing her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at the University of Arkansas. Joseph, a prospective 2021 mechanical engineering graduate, is planning to pursue a Ph.D.

Dr. Adnan Al-Ibadi, Ms. Maria Bostwick, and Dr. Sezin Kadioglu Shift to Continuing Positions

While Dr. Adnan Al-Ibadi, Ms. Maria Bostwick, and Dr. Sezin Kadioglu have taught for the Engineering and Physics department for several years, each held temporary positions that were funded on a year-to-year basis. This fall, the College of Mathematics and Science was able to shift them into permanently funded positions making it much easier to plan and implement our class schedules from one semester to the next. Each faculty member will continue to contribute to the growth and development of the program in the areas they have occupied since coming to the University of Central Oklahoma, as well as supporting the department’s service courses.

Dr. Al-Ibadi earned a Ph.D. in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Oklahoma in 2014. Since UCO does not offer a petroleum degree, he has been providing support for our Mechanical Engineering program. He was particularly helpful when Dr. Morshed Khandaker went on sabbatical last year. His greatest impact, however, has been in providing support for the ME instructional labs. This fall, he took on the role of Director of Mechanical Engineering Laboratories.

Ms. Bostwick holds her Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and two Master of Science degrees, one in Software Engineering and the other in Electronics and Information System Engineering. With this expertise, she will continue in her role as the primary instructor in our Engineering Computing course and will help guide and develop the curriculum in conjunction with our other computational faculty.

Dr. Kadioglu holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering and works with the college’s Professional Science Master’s program. In the department, her background supports both our Computational Methods in Engineering course and several upper-level Mechanical Engineering courses. This fall, she will take on the responsibilities of Director of Mechanical Engineering Advisement, which will help with ME course transfers.

ABET Accreditation

Normally, we use this space to provide information regarding one of our students or alumni. Instead, this semester we wanted to share some good news about the ABET accreditation of our engineering programs, which took place this past year. Our department had four programs up for accreditation:

BS in Mechanical Engineering (ME)
BS in Electrical Engineering (EE)
BS in Biomedical Engineering (BME)
BS in Engineering Physics (EP)

The ABET review cycle is 6-years. The EP and BME programs were last reviewed and accredited in 2013-14, and they came up for review again in the 2019-20 cycle, along with our new ME and EE degrees. About two weeks ago, we received notice that all of our programs were accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) with no deficiencies, weaknesses, or concerns. We had to resolve a few issues that popped up during the site visit last fall.  We would like to extend a grateful thank you to the many alumni and Industrial Advisory Board members who pitched in to help.

As a faculty, we believe that one of the strengths of our program is the interdisciplinary interaction on projects up to and including senior design. One of the issues that came up in the ABET review involved making sure that interdisciplinary senior design projects had an appropriate amount of content for each of the engineering disciplines represented in the project. Our solution was to add additional content advisors on these projects. For example, if a project requires two EE students and one ME student, and the primary advisor is an EE faculty member, then an additional ME content advisor will now be assigned to make sure that there is suitable content for the ME student. The ME content advisor will also assess the ME student’s contributions to the project.

Dr. Benjamin Tayo Joins the Engineering and Physics Faculty

Benjamin TayoDr. Benjamin Tayo joined the faculty in Fall 2019 as an Associate Professor working in the areas of Computational Materials Science and Condensed Matter Physics. He earned his PhD in Computational Material Science from Lehigh University, his M.S. in Condensed Matter Physics from the University of Trieste (Italy), and his B.S. in Physics and Computer Science from the University of Buea in Cameroon. As the only faculty member in the department to have earned degrees on three separate continents, Dr. Tayo brings a wealth of experience to the department. He served previously as a tenured Associate Professor at Pittsburg State University in Kansas where he established an interdisciplinary research program that led to his mentoring of 5 M.S. projects, several undergraduate research projects, 8 refereed journal articles, 22 conference presentations, and 7 invited talks. Dr. Tayo’s computational research will provide collaborative opportunities with faculty in each engineering discipline, while also supporting the college’s Professional Science Master’s program. He has already begun working with several students on undergraduate research projects and senior design projects. We are very excited to have Dr. Tayo as a member of our faculty.