Proof Points: College of Engineering

The OSU College of Engineering is a leader in research and commercialization of sustainable forms of energy and clean, safe technologies associated with them.

  • OSU is the leading academic institution in the nation in the field of wave energy research, and home to the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, created by the U.S. Dept. of Energy in 2008 with $13.5 million in initial funding. The university is working in three key areas to bring wave energy to a commercial reality – technological innovation, environmental protection and social outreach. Wave power has the potential to become a sustainable, clean, perpetual energy source around the world.
  • The invention of the world’s first transparent integrated circuit at OSU, by electrical engineer John Wager and others, is finding one of its first major commercial applications in solar energy – one of several research programs at the university that may lead to solar systems that work better, cost less or are more environmentally safe. OSU researchers have also developed a microreactor-assisted solution deposition process that is being used to develop more economical and greener manufacturing processes for solar cells – an effort that includes such partners as PNNL, CH2M Hill and Voxtel.
  • OSU nuclear engineer José Reyes has helped lead an international program to create “passively safe,” next generation nuclear reactor designs that are already under construction. Building on that work, a spinout company from OSU, NuScale, is creating new types of modular reactors, which also incorporate passive safety concepts, and could revolutionize the use of nuclear engineering around the world. The university was also recently awarded a Nuclear Regulatory Commission contract to model a gas cooled reactor that would be more efficient than existing technologies and be used to produce either electricity or hydrogen to power cars of the future.
  • OSU will collaborate in the Hydrogen Storage Center of Excellence, one part of a $40-million initiative by the U.S. Department of Energy to address the challenges in developing automobiles powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The university is also active in innovative ways to produce hydrogen at lower cost, including Roger Ely’s work to make it biologically from water, bacteria and solar energy. And Hong Liu has developed a technology to produce either electricity or hydrogen from ordinary sewage, cleaning water at the same time it produces power.
  • OSU’s Stel Walker has been a leader for decades in the study of the wind energy resource in the Pacific Northwest. New research, some of it led by Wallace Energy Systems and Renewables Facility Co-Director Ted Brekken, is aimed at finding better ways to store and regulate the highly-variable power of wind energy so it can become a more important part of the total energy system.

The College of Engineering is highly effective at commercializing research, and helping governments deal efficiently and effectively with aging infrastructure issues.

  • When the Oregon Dept. of Transportation was faced with replacing or rehabilitating nearly 500 reinforced concrete deck girder bridges due to aging, an extensive research program was conducted at OSU under the direction of Chris Higgins, that included full-scale bridge girder testing. ODOT was able to shift 120 bridges from replacement to rehabilitate and 80 bridges from replace or rehabilitate to the list that required no remediation. This allowed reallocation of $500 million dollars for other much needed bridge improvements.
  • Research discoveries from the College of Engineering produced 11 new companies and license agreements with five other startups from 2004-08. The OSU spin outs attracted more than $85 million in private investment.

Companies formed based upon OSU engineering research discoveries include:

  • Strand
  • Smart Desktop
  • RedRover Software
  • Home Dialysis Plus
  • Mtek Energy Solutions
  • NanoBits
  • Columbia Power Technologies
  • Azuray Technologies
  • Inpria
  • NuScale Power
  • TBD/Multi Media Streaming

Startup companies acquiring OSU engineering research discoveries:

  • Clear Shape
  • XTreme Energetics
  • Peregrin Power
  • Trillium Fiberfuels
  • Apex Drive Systems

Established companies acquiring licenses:

  • HP (transparent electronics
  • Timberline Tool (gel patching technology for PE piping)

OSU engineers are advancing knowledge and creating solutions to problems that affect the quality and safety of our environment.

  • OSU engineers are leaders in new techniques to treat wastewater and contaminants in hazardous waste sites. Lew Semprini's research has improved biological processes for the treatment of hazardous wastes, and explored the fate and transport of organic contaminants in the environment.
  • Environmental engineering faculty are using DNA- and RNA- based methods to track distribution and performance of anaerobic bacteria that can transform the most frequently observed contaminants in Superfund sites to a non-toxic end product. They are also developing methods to monitor the health of ammonia removal processes in wastewater treatment and develop biosensors to detect these compounds in the environment.
  • OSU researcher Alena Paulenova has created a new method for reprocessing “spent” nuclear fuel that lowers radiotoxicity and the overall volume of waste. Faculty members Abi Farsoni and David Hamby developed a next-generation radiation detector that may be used to assess treaty compliance for nuclear non proliferation, while Todd Palmer and Alex Misner have devised a way to use neutrinos to remotely monitor nuclear reactor activity.
  • Professor Jack Istok has developed new methods to speed the clean-up of contaminated hazardous waste sites. These efforts are providing new land for industrial development and new sources of groundwater for municipal and industrial use and are contributing to economic development across the United States.
  • OSU researchers have collaborated with the Oregon civil engineering industry to develop methods to manage storm water quantity and quality more efficiently, more cheaply, more sustainably, and to meet federal and state water pollution control requirements.

Oregon State faculty are making an impact on life safety, from flaggers on Oregon’s roads to our coastal communities facing the threat of tsunami.

  • The Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory, directed by Dan Cox, and its Tsunami Wave Basin play key roles in protecting the public from the threat of tsunamis in the Pacific Northwest. Work is done to identify structural concepts that could better withstand the force of a tsunami.
  • A model of the town of Seaside was subjected to a “tsunami” to see what the impacts would be. And new work is under way under the guidance of ocean engineer Harry Yeh to help the city of Cannon Beach develop what could be the nation’s first structure built specifically to withstand a tsunami and serve as a local resource for “vertical evacuation” when a wave is imminent.
  • OSU Construction Engineering Management has carried out recent research on the best ways to illuminate flaggers on road construction projects in order to best protect Oregon highway worker and drivers. The results of this research have already been implemented by ODOT.
  • OSU students and faculty surveyed 1,075 public facilities in Western Oregon for seismic vulnerability. The data is guiding the governor's recommended budget for 2009-11, which includes $30 million to seismically retrofit critical facilities, schools and emergency facilities.

OSU efforts advance the health and well being of the citizens of Oregon and beyond.

  • OSU researchers developed a micro dialyzer that will enable portable hemodialysis. The innovation has been licensed to HD+, a company projected to bring the portable hemodialysis innovation to market in 2011.
  • Camille Lodwick and Todd Palmer are improving the speed and accuracy of calculations used in treating patients for cancer with radiotherapy.
  • OSU researchers invented a way to make coatings for implantable medical devices anti-infective and non-fouling over extended periods of time in a manner that will not give rise to resistant organisms.
  • OSU professor Kate Hunter-Zaworski, director of the National Center for Accessible Transportation, is making everyday life more accessible to everyone, from the bathrooms on the new Boeing 787 to safer buses and trains.

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