Alternative Energy - A prolific undergraduate career behind him, a new engineer looks ahead
Last November, the presidents of China and the U.S. forged a commitment to reduce fossil fuel emissions. Other governments across the world are investing billions in renewable energy projects, and the U.S. government alone has a $34 billion portfolio in such investments. This is music to the ears of Ian Gagnon, who graduated last month with a degree in mechanical engineering and is planning a career in the renewable energy field.
Gagnon’s UNH journey took him into a high-speed cavitation tunnel, a high-tech research company, an alternative energy startup and to Africa, where he disinfected and fortified wells in two Ugandan communities as a member of the UNH chapter of Engineers Without Borders.
Not bad for the young man from the small town of Enfield in New Hampshire’s Upper Valley. And not surprising since engineering runs in Gagnon’s family — his grandfather and father are civil engineers, as is his sister, a 2011 UNH grad who works for a Manchester engineering consulting firm. “I’m kind of the black sheep,” Gagnon jokes about being on the mechanical side of the profession.
He’s in good company. In 2013, Gagnon began working as an undergraduate research assistant for associate professor Martin Wosnik in the UNH Center for Ocean Renewable Energy on a project to improve the performance of tidal turbines.
For his senior project, he and two classmates built a model to study offshore wind turbine arrays. “It’s getting to be pretty well understood how individual wind turbines work,” Gagnon says. “But less is known about what happens when you put wind turbines into arrays.” He and his teammates developed a model that Wosnik will use to make numerical predictions and run tests in the UNH Flow Physics Facility, which houses the largest boundary layer wind tunnel in the world.
EDEN is a remote monitoring device for water systems. Gagnon says it will be a game-changer for development agencies because it will enable them to remotely monitor the water systems they install in developing areas, and it will empower the people of developing areas to monitor and maintain their own water sources.
The device sends real-time feedback on the performance of wells and can even collect fees from users that communities can use to fund maintenance. If Gagnon and his classmates-turned-colleagues are right, EDEN will help make development projects more sustainable and will drive funding for the NGOs that use it.
The collaborators — Gagnon, Michael Gingrich '15, Annette Conticchio '15 and Devin Kheler '15 — received a Smarter Planet Grant from IBM to build the prototype of EDEN, and their company — LiquiNet — secured second prize in the New Hampshire Social Venture Innovation Challenge in December 2014, taking home $3,000 to further develop the product. This spring they secured a $10,000 UNH Emeriti Council Student International Service Initiative Grant to pilot the device, and in August, Gagnon will head back to Uganda to install three devices on wells.
At one point during his senior year, Gagnon was developing LiquiNet, taking six classes, conducting research and building a bi-axial tensile test machine (see “Formability”) — all while maintaining a GPA that hovered between 3.88 and 4.0. How did he do it?
“I enjoy what I’m doing,” says Gagnon. “Figuring things out is a pretty good feeling. So even though I might be working on projects on the weekend, it’s actually fun,” he says.
Now, the fun will continue. Gagnon will begin graduate school at UNH in September, with Wosnik as his advisor. This summer he’ll design a floating platform that Wosnik and other UNH engineers will use to install a tidal turbine underneath the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He’ll also analyze the turbine, which will power the bridge’s lighting and structural health monitoring system as part of the Living Bridge project.
“I’m really excited for it,” Gagnon says.
Ian Gagnon gained real-world experience during two internships. At Erigo Technologies in Enfield, New Hampshire, he got his foot in the door of alternative energy research, helping the high-tech company investigate grid scale battery technology. Gagnon helped out in the lab with test setup and modifications and with the processing of data.
Last summer, Ian Gagnon '15 and then graduate student Vojtech Kubec '12 '15G worked in the UNH Mechanics Materials and Manufacturing Laboratory, helping assistant professor Yannis Korkolis build and test a new bi-axial tensile test machine.
“It’s a machine that stretches a piece of metal in two different directions at the same time,” Gagnon explains. “Professor Korkolis studies many metal forming techniques. New alloys have been developed over the past decade and are being used in commercial applications. As you start making more complex shapes — for example, automobiles — out of new alloys and materials, there can be issues. The new alloys are stronger, but as strength increases, so does brittleness, so formability decreases. We have to understand how they will act when we form them. This machine mimics a tiny little part of a process that might happen when you’re forming sheet metal. The machine can replicate the tiny process of pressing sheet metal really well.”
Gagnon spent the summer of 2014 designing the machine in SolidWorks, then he built and tested it during the fall semester of his senior year.
As an undergraduate, Ian Gagnon received the John and Rose Mendelsohn Kurtz Scholarship, the Movers and Shakers Award from the UNH Office of Student Involvement and Leadership and was a two-time recipient of the Albert Kingsbury Memorial Scholarship. In October 2014, Stay Work Play New Hampshire named him the 2014 New Hampshire College Student of Year.June 19, 2015
Cross Country Ski World Junior Championship
ME Sophomore Gavin Hess recently participated in the Nordic Junior & U23 Cross-Country World Ski Championships in Kazakhastan. Here are a few pictures!
Posted: May 08, 2015
Eyes of the Robot
The University of New Hampshire VEX Robotics Team recently obtained a pair of security IP cameras from CCTV Camera World and 123 CCTV Camera to use on the competition robots in the upcoming season. These cameras are designed to stream high definition video over Ethernet and are traditionally used for security purposes. But, CCTV Camera World and 123 CCTV Camera has helped incorporate the RTSP video stream from the camera with the robotics team’s applications.
The upcoming game challenge requires teams to launch game objects into an elevated scoring goal. That scoring goal has a distinct color around the boarder that aids teams in launching game objects when using sensors that have the ability to track the colored boarder.
The robotics team plans to create a launching mechanism that can continuously adjust itself for different launching positions on the field. These adjustments will be made using the video stream from the cameras mounted on the robots. This will give the team a huge advantage throughout the competition season through such an advanced and precise system!Posted: May 01, 2015
ME Senior Daniel Valente Receives Unsung Hero Award
Congratulations to Daniel Valente, member of the ET-Navswarm senior project, who received the Unsung Hero Award! This award recognizes a student who works behind the scenes, often goes beyond their duties, and is respected by other students.Posted: April 30, 2015
Graduate Student Receives NDSEG Fellowship
Congratulations to Meagan Wengrove, Prof. Diane Foster’s student, who received a 2015 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship!Posted: April 02, 2015
ME Junior Goldwater Scholarship recipient
Congratulations to Joe Collins on being awarded the Goldwater Scholarship! For details see:April 02, 2015
Engineers Without Borders Article
Check out this article from the Union Leader about the Professional Engineers Without Borders (EWB) chapter currently being organized by Heidi Lemieux and Jon Ordway. The UNH EWB chapter is mentioned as well!Posted: March 17, 2015
Volcanic Ash Project Highlighted in NSF
ME Professors Klewicki and White's volcanic ash project (see page 11) has been highlighted in the latest edition of NSF's Division of Earth Sciences (EAR) quarterly newsletter!
Below is an article on UNH ME Graduate Dale Delisle:
MITRE Employee Shares His Passion for Engineering
by Eidson, William B.
on 9/16/2014 9:17 AM
The tension of the three teams was palpable as the remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) approached the sunken sub. One team’s ROV hovered above, providing visual guidance. Another’s had already successfully opened the sub’s hatch. They watched the monitors intently as the deployment motor whirred, propelling the payload into the sub.
“Everyone just screamed and started clapping and singing, ‘We Are the Champions,’” said Dale Delisle, a lead mechanical engineer in MITRE’s National Security Engineering Center, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Department of Defense. The payload was a bottle of water, the sunken sub a set of six black milk crates, and the undersea setting a pool. And the three teams were comprised of eight middle-school girls and two boys at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Tech Camp in late summer. Dale and three other colleagues were using the SeaPerch ROV program to provide students with the opportunity to learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
"They gained so much pride as engineers," said Dale. "They were nervous in the beginning, but by the end they felt they could do anything."
Professionally, Dale is well-qualified to teach about ROVs. Before MITRE, he worked at the Portsmouth Naval Yard for the Navy. He once dove 2,000 feet down in a deep submergence rescue vehicle.
“You should hear the hull creaking at that depth,” he said. “And for MITRE, I’ve done interesting work all over the world. I want to share my passion for engineering and help students understand that it’s far from dry and dull, but genuinely exciting.”
Dale took a circuitous path to his love of engineering. After two years study to be an electrical engineer, he dropped out of college to join the Army. He served in Desert Storm and ultimately ended up in Germany in communications. After he returned home, he ran a martial arts school for eight years. But he was always strong in math and science and returned to engineering.
“What really thrills me is the application of engineering as much as the theory. I’ll ask the kids as they are sitting in an air-conditioned room, ‘Are you comfortable right now? What if it was 40 degrees outside? Or 90? The air conditioning or heating systems that are keeping you comfortable—and engineers designed them. The same is true for your smart phones, which didn’t even exist ten years ago.’ My goal is to help young people realize how engineering can improve and often impact lives on a massive scale. That a doctor may save one life at a time, but an engineer who does something like figuring out a low-cost water filtration system may save millions.”
In 2008, Dale took a semester-long [unpaid] sabbatical and taught at UNH, including a college-level version of the SeaPerch ROV project that the middle school students did this summer.
“It was more challenging, with tighter restrictions, but essentially the same program. These middle school students had to measure, design, cut, and figure out the systems. We showed them how to waterproof the motor including taping and then potting them in wax. It’s a real challenge to use electricity in water. And this year, they came up with a unique way to push the payload into the sub—they used a motor to accelerate the water around the water bottle to push it in.”
Dale devotes about 80 hours a year to volunteering for STEM programs.
“As the baby boomers retire, they are leaving a significant gap in the fields of science and technology,” he said. “Do any reading about the topic, and you can see the shortfall is a real problem. So I feel it’s important to volunteer for these STEM training programs for the sake of our country and our position as a global leader—but it also does so much for me. It’s revitalizing. It helps me articulate for myself what I do. When I volunteer for these STEM programs, I easily get back as much as I give.”
Approved for Public Release; Distribution Unlimited. 14-3530
©2014 The MITRE Corporation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.Posted: October 21, 2014
Professor White's paper designated as Highly Cited Paper
A paper (listed below) that Prof. Chris White co-authored while at Sandia National Laboratories has been officially designated by the Thompson Reuters Essential Science Indicators as a Highly Cited Paper. Highly Cited Papers are those that rank among the top one percent most cited in their subject field over the last ten years. There are 22 subject fields in total, and this paper was ranked in the subject field of Engineering. Congratulations on this honor Chris!October 16, 2014
Ian Gagnon selected as NH College Student of the Year
Ian Gagnon (Mechanical Engineering, ’15) was selected as the New Hampshire College Student of the Year!
This award is an initiative of Stay Work Play, in partnership with New Hampshire Public Radio, to celebrate and recognize the state’s remarkable college students who are academic rising stars and give back to their community.
Ian’s selection was announced Oct. 3 in Manchester at the Rising Star Awards Ceremony.
photo credit: John GagnonPosted: October 14, 2014
Bertram Husch International Scholarship Recipient
Congratulations to Thomas Kroll, ME senior, on receiving the first Bertram Husch International Scholarship!Posted: September 16, 2014
Lewis F. Moody Award
UNH Mechanical Engineering Professor Martin Wosnik and former UNH ME graduate student Nathaniel Dufresne were awarded the Lewis F. Moody Award for their paper: “Experimental Investigation and Similarity Solution of the Axisymmetric Turbulent Wake with Rotation.” The Lewis F. Moody Award is presented by the Fluids Engineering Division of ASME to the most “Outstanding original paper useful to the practice of mechanical engineering.”Posted: September 10, 2014
2014 AMSE Fluids Engineering Division Graduate Student Scholar Award
Congratulations to Ivo Nedyalkov, ME PhD student, received an AMSE Fluids Engineering Division Graduate Student Scholar award for 2014 (one of 13 awarded), for his paper titled: “Performance of Bi-Directional Blades for Tidal Turbines.“
This award was newly instituted in 2013, when Ivo won it for the first time. Apparently the judges were impressed again by his new paper for 2014 and his engagement in the Multiphase Flow Technical Committee that Ivo became the first back-to-back recipient.
Ivo pictured in back row, second from right.Posted: September 10, 2014
Watch CEPS Fast Careers video clip about Andrew Cunningham, Mechanical Engineering Graduate!Posted: August 15, 2014
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