Research

LEADING THE WAY WITH CREATIVE SOLUTIONS

UAA's College of Engineering is making good use of the 21 labs in its new state-of-the-art research and teaching facility. Even though the year is not over yet, an increased emphasis on research has already yielded a variety of research awards totaling more than $3.1 million for FY16 - an increase of more than 135 percent over the previous year.
sponsored research graph
Faculty expertise across various engineering disciplines offers opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration on solutions to Alaska problems. Such cutting-edge research not only provides solid data to address issues in communities throughout the state of Alaska, it also allows the College to serve as a resource for local industry, while offering opportunities for students to gain crucial field and professional experience.
More information about the College of Engineering's labs can be found here.

COLLABORATING WITH INDUSTRY PARTNERS

BP CORROSION LAB
Research in the BP Asset Integrity and Corrosion Lab at UAA's College of Engineering presents a classic win/win/win situation. UAA mechanical engineering professor Matt Cullin performs corrosion testing a failure analysis for both the oil and gas industry and water and wastewater utilities. His work provides crucial data for planning and prevention, to help minimize health and safety risks and their attendant financial liabilities.

Civil engineering professors Joey Yang and Hannele Zubeck engage in a different kind of research. Industry partner ConocoPhillips asked them to investigate the properties of thawing permafrost to design a mitigation strategy for casing in current wells, with an eye toward improving future well design.

In both cases, research also provides opportunities for practical hands-on learning for engineering students.

CLEAN, AFFORDABLE AND HEALTHY

Clean water and flushing toilets are few and far between in remote areas of Alaska. UAA civil engineering professor Aaron Dotson is leading one of three teams selected as finalists in the state's Alaska Water and Sewer Challenge. The goal: Create a cost-effective way for individual homes without piped utilities to have the amenities of sanitary in-home running water. Dr. Dotson envisions a design that could be made available in kits, so local people can be trained to construct, install and maintain or modify the systems themselves to meet their personal household needs."This will offer not only clean water, but opportunities for sustainability, new skills and community empowerment." - Dr. Aaron Dotson, UAA Civil Engineering

FAR-REACHING IMPLICATIONS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

Our changing climate finds the U.S. Coast Guard with increasing northern duties, which led the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to create the Arctic Domain Awareness Center (ADAC). One of 13 DHS Centers of Excellent around the country, ADAC is developing tools to better monitor change and threat in the Arctic.

Through ADAC, UAA's engineering faculty is creating predictive models for oil spills, sea ice movement and coastal storm surges. They are also developing a capacity for reliable remote monitoring via low-cost wireless sensor systems that can operate and report without batteries.

tom ravens research

Professor Tom Ravens' work to develop predictive storm surge modeling will be important in determining a timeline for coastal erosion that threatens the safety and survival of Alaska communities. Recently appointed associate dean for research at UAA's College of Engineering, Dr. Ravens received his Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from MIT and his bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering sciences from Dartmouth College. He specializes in Arctic coastal processes and water-based renewable energy. If you have questions about research expertise and interests, contact Professor Ravens at 907-786-1943 or tmravens@uaa.alaska.edu.

HARNESSING THE WIND FOR VILLAGE-SIZED ENERGY

jifeng wind turbine

Responding to the crushingly high cost of energy in rural Alaska, researchers from UAA, Caltech and Stanford collaborated on a low-tech, highly reliable solution for the tiny village of Iglugig: vertical-axis wind turbines. They are small, light and - no matter which way the wind blows - effective.

UAA mechanical engineering professor Jifeng Peng received his doctorate at Caltech. He specialized in fluid mechanics, and applied some of those principles to an innovative solution for Iglugig. Under a research grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Dr. Peng and his colleagues are gathering and analyzing data from the initial wind turbine installations, with an eye toward installing more turbines this spring.