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Brigham Young University - 2016

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Research Description

Research Description By Graduate Engineering Department

Chemical Engineering

he Chemical Engineering Department has ongoing research in the areas of energy and combustion, thermodynamics and thermophysical properties, biochemical and biomedical engineering, nano and micro technology, molecular modeling, catalysis, ionic liquids, soft materials, and nuclear engineering.

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty and students conduct research in Structural, Geotechnical, Water Resources, and Transportation engineering. Structural engineering research topics include development and application of composite materials; testing and analysis of structural components, such as shear walls, beams and columns; and optimization of structural systems. Geo technical research topics include liquefaction, lateral and vertical load resistance of piles, modeling of ground water flow, and environmental remediation of contaminated sites. Water Resources engineering research topics include water-quality and contamination of mountain lakes, municipal and industrial waste treatment, and surface water modeling. Transportation engineering research topics include intelligent transportation systems, traffic flow and traffic safety, urban transportation planning, and pavement materials and management.

Computer Science

The areas of research currently in the Computer Science Department include, but are not limited to the following; advanced 3D graphics; applied machine learning; computational sciences; computer generated natural phenomena; computer graphics, vision, and image processing; data engineering; data extraction; data mining; human-centered machine intelligence; hyperdimensional graphics; information and decision algorithms; image processing; interactive computing; internet; internet security; natural language processing; neural networks and machine learning; software model checking; software quality engineering.

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Major research projects in the department include Microwave Earth Remote Sensing, Configurable Computing and Embedded Systems, MEMs and Semiconductors, Integrated Electro-Optics, Multiple-Agent Intelligent Coordinated Control Systems for Unmanned Air Vehicles, Analog/RF and Mixed-Signal Circuits, and Space-Time Processing for Wireless Communications and Telemetry Applications. Individual faculty also conduct research in biomedical imaging, biomedical sensing, computer vision, and radio astronomy.

Mechanical Engineering

The Department of Mechanical Engineering offers two graduate degrees: Mechanical Engineering MS and Mechanical Engineering Ph.D. The graduate program in mechanical engineering has over one hundred graduate students and thirty graduate students. The typical time to obtain an MS degree is approximately two years, whereas a Ph.D. degree usually takes four-five years beyond the BS degree.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering offers strong graduate programs in a variety of areas, including the following:
• Combustion processes
• Computational and experimental fluid mechanics
• Dynamic and mechatronic systems and controls
• Heat transfer
• Product design and development
• CAM/CAD Systems
• Compliant Mechanisms
Material Science
Energy Systems

Research Description By Engineering Research Center

Advanced Combustion Engineering Research Center (ACERC)

The ACERC mission is: To develop advanced combustion technology through fundamental engineering research and educational programs aimed at the solution of critical national problems. The range of combustion research projects has broadened enormously, especially since energy is such a national and international concern. Projects include: combustion and gasification mechanisms of fuels such as coal, biomass, and petroleum coke; pyrolysis mechanisms of oil shale; advanced models for treating reaction chemistry in turbulent flows; advanced diagnostics in particle-laden flows; oxy-fuel combustion of coal; and CO2 capture from combustion exhaust streams using a cryogenic capture technology.
ACERC has several industrial members works together to provide joint funding opportunities, collaborative course instruction in combustion-related classes, sharing and safety of laboratory space, and employment opportunities for students. Two companies have been organized as a result of ACERC: Combustion Resources in Provo, UT, and Reaction Engineering International in Salt Lake City, UT.


CADLab is Brigham Young University’s I/UCRC Center Site that falls under the NSF sponsored Center for e-Design. CADLab is developing new Computer-Aided Applications (CAx) that are truly collaborative. CADLab is transitioning current single user CAx architectures to multi-user where several users can simultaneously modify CAx models, including assemblies.

BYU focuses on artificial limitations in CAx applications that prohibit several product engineers from working collaboratively and simultaneously on product models. We note that current computer operating systems and computer aided applications are designed for single users with single screen cursors. By leveraging advances in networks, networked multi-user gaming technologies, and by modifying core API libraries, we permit many users to simultaneously modify one or more product models on one or more computers, using one or several CAx applications, thereby greatly reducing product development design to manufacturing cycle times.

Currently, we are developing management tools for organizing multi-user teams, using interoperable feature-based methods to neutralize the product data.

Center for High-Performing Reconfigurable Computing (CHREC)

The use of FPGA and other configurable technologies for the creation of high-performance computing platforms and solutions is a rapidly expanding field. Over the past two decades, many solutions previously performed in software on programmable processors or in custom-designed integrated circuits have migrated to FPGA technology due to the tremendous advances afforded. In many cases, such custom computing solutions are able to perform orders of magnitude faster than software implementations but on standard commercial off-the-shelf hardware devices. The BYU Center for High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing (CHREC) focuses on the development of CAD tools and design methods to enable the application of this technology across a variety of disciplines from space computing to signal and image processing to computer vision. Current center projects focus specifically on the areas of CAD tools and design productivity and also reliable systems. The productivity work focuses on the development of new CAD tools and design flows to reduce circuit compilation times from hours to seconds. The RapidSmith CAD tool suite is an example product from this work, having been placed into the open source community and used by researchers and companies around the world, and having been downloaded more than 4,500 times. In the area of reliability, FPGAs are increasingly used in radiation environments such as space where high energy particles create single event upsets (SEUs), corrupting the device’s computations. Our reliability work focuses on new mitigation techniques as well as radiation testing of emerging devices to allow this technology to be used in space and other harsh environments. On-satellite experiments using technology designed in the center have flown on both the International Space Station (the MISSE-8 experiment) as well as the Los Alamos Cibola satellite. The center is a collaborative effort between the BYU site consisting of 4 faculty and approximately 25 students and partner sites located at University of Florida, Virginia Tech, and University of Pittsburgh. The center operates as a part of the NSF I/UCRC centers program.

Design Institute for Physical Properties - Thermophysical Properties Lab (DIPPR-TPL)

The DIPPR (Design Institute for Physical Properties) Project 801 is an evaluated pure chemical database that includes 32 constant and 15 temperature-dependent thermodynamic, physical, and transport properties for over 2200 chemicals. The objective of Project 801 is to provide a “Gold Standard” of thermophysical properties of unmatched quality and consistency for the most industrially important chemicals, first to DIPPR sponsors and second to the general chemical process industry. To accomplish this objective, the BYU DIPPR Lab performs comprehensive literature reviews, evaluates existing experimental data, uses current and develops improved property prediction techniques, measures experimental data, correlates temperature-dependent values, evaluates the inter-relationship between recommended values and correlations, reviews and updates information in the database, regularly adds new chemicals to the database, etc. There are currently 35 industrial companies and organizations that sponsor the DIPPR 801 Project. The project officially began in 1980 with Penn State University as the initial contractors. In 1998 the contract was awarded to BYU. The BYU DIPPR Lab currently has two full-time administrative staff employees, a part-time staff employee and two principal investigators. At any given time, the project supports 20 to 25 undergraduate students, two to four graduate students and has an annual budget of over $750,000.

Environmental Modeling Research Laboratory (EMRL)

The Environmental Modeling Research Laboratory (EMRL) has a long history of research in computer simulation of water resource systems, including groundwater flow and transport, watershed runoff, flooding due to storms or dam breaks, and surface water flow in lakes, rivers, estuaries, and coastal environments.

The EMRL is best known for developing a suite of modeling software packages called the Groundwater Modeling System (GMS), the Surface Water Modeling System (SMS) and the Watershed Modeling System (WMS). This software was developed in partnership with the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg Mississippi. In April 2007, the software development activities associated with the EMRL were transferred to an off-campus company called Aquaveo. Aquaveo is now headed by former EMRL faculty member Alan Zundel. Aquaveo continues to develop and maintain the GMS/SMS/WMS software in addition to software training and consulting services.

Friction Stir Processing (FSR)

Brigham Young University (BYU) has been involved in friction stir welding and processing (FSW&P) research since 1998. Initially, FSW research was funded by companies like Lockheed Martin Corp., Boeing, and Alcoa. These initial contracts aided BYU in establishing a research basis that has grown into an international hub for FSW activities.

Over the past seven years, BYU has made significant contributions in FSW&P. Areas of contribution include: Process Development, Microstructural Characterization, Modeling, and Machine design and controls. Presently, there are five faculty, fourteen graduate students, four undergraduate students, and two visiting scholars involved in the FSW activities at BYU. Our faculty and students have published over forty papers in international journals and proceedings, along with over ten patents pending.

Our objectives in the Friction Stir Research Lab (FSRL) at BYU are to: establish a better fundamental understanding of FSW&P, and improve the technology and broaden its application for our industrial and federal sponsors.

Microwave Earth Remote Sensing (MERS)

The BYU Microwave Earth Remote Sensing (MERS) Laboratory conducts research in remote sensing of the Earth including the development of new and improved microwave radar-based remote sensing techniques, the development of advanced microwave sensors such as compact, low-cost synthetic aperture radars (SARs), the processing and analysis of satellite data, and the development of advanced signal processing techniques for remote sensing data. Most of the work in the Lab involves radar, but passive sensors and data are also involved. The lab has a “systems” focus that includes basic scattering phenomenology, hardware, signal processing, data processing and analysis, and scientific data applications. Both satellite and aircraft platforms are used. The Lab has been in the forefront of satellite scatterometer systems design and analysis and in the development and deployment of small SAR systems.

Multiple Agent Intelligent Coordinator Control (MAGICC Lab)

"MAGICC" stands for Multiple AGent Intelligent Coordination and Control.

Coordinated control of multiple vehicle systems has become an active research area in recent years. The motivation for multiple vehicle systems is to achieve the same gains for mechanically controlled systems as has been gained in distributed computation. Rather than having a single monolithic (and therefore expensive and complicated) machine do everything, the hope is that many inexpensive, simple machines, can achieve the same, or enhanced functionality, through coordination. In essence, the objective is to replace expensive complicated hardware with software.

There are numerous applications for multiple vehicle systems including space-based interferometry, future autonomous combat systems, autonomous household items, enhanced surveillance, hazardous material handling, and active reconfigurable sensing.

The BYU Magicc laboratory has two primary research objectives.
• Develop innovative algorithms, architectures, and techniques for the coordination and control of multiple vehicles.
• Maintain a functioning testbed that allows many different algorithms and architectures to be implemented and tested for a variety of applications.

These objectives have previously been targeted towards ground robots, but now MAGICC's attention is towards UAVs and airborne coordination. Using an array of mini and micro UAVs, BYU is conducting innovative research in many control-related fields.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems

BYU is the lead institution in the NSF-sponsored Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS). Other university participants include University of Colorado, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech. C-UAS involves eight faculty members from Computer Science and BYU’s four engineering programs and over 25 graduate and undergraduate students. Our research focuses on problems of critical importance to the UAS industry including detect and avoid, robust navigation with intermittent GPS, effective human-machine interfaces, and infrastructure monitoring using UAS.