By Todd Howard
Engineering Ph.D. student Jeremy Bonifacio is distinguishing himself on the national stage as an innovator of high-tech solutions to longstanding environmental and public-health issues. Last year, he traveled to the Transportation Research Board’s annual conference in Washington D.C. to receive the METRANS Transportation Center’s “Student of the Year” award as well as a certificate of commendation from the U.S. Department of Transportation for his academic excellence and research in the reduction of airborne pollution.
A student in the “Engineering and Industrial Applied Math” doctoral program that is a joint endeavor between the College of Engineering and Claremont Graduate University, Bonifacio’s research in Fluid Dynamics is creating technologies that disperse indoor and outdoor pollutants before they can reach dangerously high levels of concentrations, as well as biomedical instruments for treating pollution-related illnesses. “The number of people who are getting sick from airborne pollutants is on the rise in developed and developing nations alike,” says Bonifacio. “There is urgent need for a comprehensive range of solutions.” Bonifacio recently served as the student team leader on a $1.8 million joint research endeavor between CSULB and the Port of Los Angeles that developed “seawater scrubber” technology for reducing the high concentrations of diesel particulate matter that are emitted from oceangoing vessels. The project’s principle investigator was Dr. Hamid Rahai, Bonifacio’s PhD advisor.
In addition to his research in Fluid Dynamics, Bonifacio is developing biomedical technology that holds the promise of providing more accurate diagnoses and targeted treatment of pollution-related illnesses such as respiratory infections, heart disease, and lung cancer. He presently teaches Aerodynamics Laboratory classes in CSULB’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and is preparing for a career as a consultant in the field of environmental pollutants and as an entrepreneur in the field of biomedical technologies.
Human biologists, computer scientists and engineers are teaming to advance neuroscience toward achieving yet another one of NAE’s Grand Challenges, namely, understanding the complex network we call brain. Modern noninvasive methods can simultaneously measure the activity of many brain cells. Comprehension of how the brain works will enable engineers to simulate its activities, leading to deeper insights about how and why the brain works and fails.
Engineering Distinguished Lecture Series
The College of Engineering has opened a High Performance Computing (HPC) Laboratory. Provided by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base, the HPC Laboratory will enable the College’s faculty and students to bring the power of high-performance computing to bear on some of the most enduring challenges facing engineers.
Consisting of a master node and eight computer nodes with 140 cores total that can be doubled with hyper-threading, the HPC Laboratory is able to perform computations that would take a single computer weeks or even months. HPC is extremely useful to engineering in its ability to perform “multivariable assessment and optimization,” and thus to create a design that has been optimized according to a variety of variables.
Examples of the usefulness of this technology include improving the design performance of small flying vehicles (micro-UAVs), using brain signals to predict patient recovery after brain surgery, and simulating air pollution diffusion from various sources within an urban community. “The implications of high-performance computing are immense for research in biomedical, fracture mechanics, fluid dynamics, engineering systems, network and security, and anything that requires large data crunching,” said Hamid Rahai, interim associate dean of research in the COE.
Over the past century, engineering has made numerous fundamental contribution to the field of medicine. From the most prosaic forms of engineering like sewer and water sanitation, to chemical engineering processes to produce drugs like penicillin in economical form, and now with medical applications of robotics, engineering has been crucial is increasing human life expectancy. Nowadays robots and automated devices are applied in many diverse forms such as replacing a missing limb, performing a very delicate surgery, delivering rehabilitation therapy like neurorehabilitation for stroke patients, and assisting with learning disabilities.
Modern applications of robotics in medicine are more diverse than ever before. Beside surgery and rehabilitation therapy, these devices are used for medical training, prosthetics, and assisting the aging population and persons with disabilities. Future likely applications of medical robots will be to perform tasks that are otherwise impossible, such as enabling new microsurgery procedures by providing high-dexterity access to small anatomical structures, and integrating high precision imaging into the OR.