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2019 in review: College of Engineering highlights

2019 was a great year for the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering. From the classroom to the field, faculty and students continued to make a positive impact on the world.

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It’s a great time to be a part of the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering.

In 2019, the College of Engineering received awards for innovation, expanded experiences for students through new programs and opportunities, and made the world a better place by serving others.

Below are just a few highlights from the BYU College of Engineering in 2019:

1. Taking it global
152 BYU Engineering students traveled outside the U.S. through study abroad and international internships in 2019. In total, they visited 15 different countries and enhanced their perspective of the world through resources provided by the Weidman Center.

2. Making a mark
BYU Electrical Engineering faculty, Michael Rice, received the International Foundation for Telemetering Pioneer Award. Electrical Engineering professor, Aaron Hawkins, was awarded the IEEE Photonics Society Engineering Achievement Award. Riley Meik, BYU student and founder of Sugarhouse Aerospace, was awarded the 1st place title of Student Innovator of the Year.

3. Continuing first-class research
Mechanical Engineering professors Anton Bowden and David Fullwood teamed up with Ulrike Mitchell, associate professor in the College of Life Sciences, to address the issues of lower back pain and opioid misuse. The team was awarded a $2.3M grant to continue their research of a wearable lower back sensor to assist in proper diagnosis and treatment. The Mechanical Engineering department also received a $450k grant from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Daniel Smalley, Electrical Engineering professor, was awarded the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award and a $500k grant.

4. Adding new degree programs
The Manufacturing Engineering program was made available to students beginning fall semester of 2019, with new graduate and undergraduate degrees. In addition to learning manufacturing processes, students also participate in hands-on training in welding, casting, injection molding, automation, and more. The new programs are dedicated to maintaining a focus on experiential learning. Find out more about the programs here.

5. Initiating change: Highlight of the year
Though the College of Engineering had many great feats, there is one that stands out from the rest. A group of BYU Engineering Capstone students set out to tackle the air pollution crisis in Mongolia. In the winter, pollution is double the level considered hazardous to human health, due to coal-burning being the most affordable way to heat homes (gers).

“It’s the leading cause of death for children under five, and it’s very preventable,” said Mechanical Engineering student Ivy Running (BS '19), who recently visited Mongolia.

The students created an innovative new structure to make the homes safer, warmer, and more energy-efficient, using low-energy electric heating in place of coal burning. They traveled to Mongolia to test the process of retrofitting and building these improved ger structures.

“We knew the air was dry, the nights were cold, and the pollution was killing these people, but until going there, we didn’t understand what the Mongolian people had to endure every day,” said Dylan Sellers, Electrical Engineering student, regarding his experience in Mongolia.

The team learned that their project was a success. After testing, they found that the improved structures effectively held heat for a fraction of the cost. The experiment showed that gers could be retrofitted and heated with a low-power electric heater, all for around $400.

The faculty and students met with Mongolia's prime minister at the end of their trip to discuss further execution of clean air efforts. The prime minister commended their efforts and expressed interest in continuing the fight for clean air.

Check out the full Mongolia story with pictures here.

Below is a video documenting and explaining the experience.

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