Archives for February 2016

Sarchet Seminar Series to feature Northwestern professor Tuesday Feb 23

See notice in eConnection

Learn about NSF programs and proposal writing

Dr. Chengshan Xiao will present a lecture titled “An Introduction to NSF Programs and Proposal Writing” 2-3 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 19) in Room 124 Butler-Carlton Civil Engineering Hall. Xiao, the National Science Foundation ENG/ECCS program director and professor of electrical and computer engineering at S&T, will provide an overview of core programs in the NSF engineering directorate, discuss several crosscutting programs among multiple directorates, and provide insights on NSF-wide multidisciplinary funding opportunities. He will also focus on how to write an NSF research proposal and how to avoid common problems with proposal writing.

Rock Mechanics and Explosives Research Center (RMERC) Graduate Gathering

The weekly Rock Mechanics and Explosives Research Center (RMERC) Graduate Gathering is held in the  RMERC Building – 1006 Kingshighway, in the conference room (room 106)

From 3:30 -420 Fridays when  MS&T classes are in session.

Anyone is welcome to attend. Please also feel free to bring a friend.

Our presenter for this Friday, February 19, 2016  is  Reza Rahimi, PhD Student in Petroleum Engineering, Adviser: Dr. Nygaard

Reza Rahimi

Title: Can Particle Size Distribution of Lost Circulation Materials Affect the Fracture Gradient?


The purpose of preventive treatment of fluid losses, i.e. wellbore strengthening, is to deliberately enhance the fracture gradient by creating and curing fractures while drilling. The effectiveness of such treatments can be affected by the lost circulation material (LCM) type, size distribution, and the fracture width. This paper investigates if the particle size distribution of preventive LCMs can change the breakdown or re-opening pressure. Hydraulic fracturing experiments were performed on concrete cores as a proxy for impermeable rocks with a low-toxicity oil-based fluid and LCM blends with different particle size distributions. Two injection cycles were performed to measure the breakdown and fracture re-opening pressures. Microscopic analysis of the fractured cores was performed to estimate the fracture width. The fracture pressure and re-opening pressure were greatly increased by including LCMs in the fluid compared to the basic drilling fluid. The experimental results indicate that selecting fluids with LCM of certain range will enhance the fracture gradient and widen the available drilling fluid window.

Federal Cybersecurity R&D Plan

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released the “Federal Cybersecurity Research and Development Strategic Plan,” which you can find here. You can also read a fact sheet about the broader “Cybersecurity National Action Plan” here.

GAO: Rare Earth Minerals

GAO published a report entitled, “Rare Earth Materials: Developing a Comprehensive Approach Could Help DoD Better Manage National Security Risks in the Supply Chain.” Read more.

NIST seeks comments

NIST is extending the period for submitting comments related to the “Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity” (“the Framework”) through February 23, 2016. Read more.

e-ASIA Joint Research Program


The e-ASIA Joint Research Program aims to develop a vibrant and collaborative r esearch community in Science and Technology, to promote innovation in the East Asian region, and to contribute to the region’s economicdevelopment. Calls for proposals in 2015 included the following:

– Health Research – specific research areas in 2015 are Infectious Diseases and Cancer Research

– Disaster Risk Reduction and Management

– Intelligent Infrastructure for Transportation

– Bioenergy

Transportation Research Board (TRB): IDEA Programs (Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis)


The programs provide start-up funding for promising, but unproven, innovations in surface transportation systems. The programs’ goals are to seek out and support new transportation solutions that are unlikely to befunded through traditional sources.

Top 3 Criteria by Which Selection Committees Evaluate IDEA Proposals:
– Innovation — Emphasize the innovation. Say it first, say it fast, and make it clear. What problem does the project address? How is your solution better than current practice?
– Benefits — Describe the expected benefits. Why is this project worth investing in?
– Science — Stick to the science. Be sure the research approach is sound and sensible.

NSF: Civil Infrastructure Systems


The Civil Infrastructure Systems (CIS) program supports fundamental and innovative research necessary for designing, constructing, managing, maintaining, operating and protecting efficient, resilient and sustainablecivil infrastructure systems. Research that recognizes the role that these systems play in societal functioning and accounts for how human behavior and social organizations contribute to and affect the performance of these systems is encouraged. While component-level, subject-matter knowledge may be crucial in many research efforts, this program focuses on the civil infrastructure as a system in which interactions between spatially-distributed components and intersystem connections exist. Thus, intra- and inter-physical, information and behavioral dependencies of these systems are also of particular interest. Topics pertaining to transportation systems, construction engineering, infrastructure systems and infrastructure management are a focus of this program. Research that considers either or both ordinary and disrupted operating environments is relevant. Methodological contributions pertaining to systems engineering and design, network analysis and optimization, performance management, vulnerability and risk analysis, mathematical and simulation modeling, exact and approximate algorithm development, control theory, statistical forecasting, dynamic and stochastic systems approaches, multi-attribute decision theory, and incorporation of behavioral and social considerations, not excluding other methodological areas or the integration of methods, specific to this application are encouraged. Additional research of interest exploits data/information, and takes advantage of relevant technological advances, such as social media. In general, research that has the promise of long-lasting, cascading (hopefully escalating) impact on the wider researchcommunity through its theoretical, scientific, mathematical or computational contributions is valued.
The program does not support research with a primary contribution pertaining to individual infrastructure components, materials, sensor technology, extreme event modeling, climate modeling, human factors, structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, environmental sciences, or hydrologic engineering, since these topics do not fall within the scope of the CIS program. Researchers focused in these areas are encouraged to contact the Infrastructure Management and Extreme Events (IMEE), Geotechnical Engineering and Materials (GEM), or Structural and Architectural Engineering and Materials (SAEM) programs. Additionally, researchers may consider contacting the Hydrologic Sciences program in the Earth Sciences Division (EAR) or the Physical and Dynamic Meteorology (PDM) program in the Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences Division (AGS) of the Directorate for Geosciences.

The CIS program encourages knowledge dissemination and technology transfer activities that can lead to broader societal benefit and implementation for provision of physical civil infrastructure systems.

AFOSR: Aerospace Materials for Extreme Environments


The objective of basic research in Aerospace Materials for ExtremeEnvironments is to provide the fundamental knowledge required to enable revolutionary advances in future U.S. Air Force technologies through thediscovery and characterization of materials for extreme temperatures (exceeding 1000 degrees Celsius), other extreme environments of stress-, magnetic-, electric-, microwave-, and ultrasound fields. Interest domain includes the fundamental science of single crystals, heterogeneous structures, interface of phases and grain boundaries. Materials of interest are ceramics, metals, hybrid systems including inorganic composites that exhibit superior structural, functional and/or multifunctional performance.

The function within a specific time domain of interest profoundly important and response characteristics defines the material more importantly than generalized properties. The following research concentrations are selected to highlight the aforementioned philosophy about function, environment and state of the materials that could create disruptive source of transformations.

Predictive Materials Science: Simulation-based materials design has the potential to dramatically reduce the need for expensive down-stream characterization and testing. Currently, we don’t even have a good grasp of how combining materials into particular compounds gives them certain properties, or how these properties give materials functional qualities. Often the modeling approaches make casual inference about the microstructural features. The aim is to explore the possibility for the quantification of microstructure through reliable and accurate descriptions of grain and particle shapes, and identifying sample distributions of shape descriptors to generate and predict structures which might revolutionize the design and performance. The quality of computerized representation of microstructures and models will be measured by its (a) geometric accuracy, or faithfulness to the physical landscape, (b) complexity, (c) structure accuracy and controllability (function), and (d) amenability to processing and high level understanding. In order to satisfy this objective, the approaches may require development of an accurate methodology for the quantification of 3-Dimensional shapes in both experimental and theoretical microstructures in heterogeneous systems, and to establish a pathway for an accurate comparison tools (and metric).

Materials Response Far from Equilibrium: The transformative breakthrough has not originated from the investigations of materials in equilibrium state but in contrary at the margins of the disciplines. In this context, this program embraces materials that are far from the thermodynamic equilibrium domain; bulk metallic glasses, highly doped polycrystalline laser materials, adaptive oxides, multiferroics, supersaturated-, frustrated structures (quasi-two-dimensional electron gas of layered structures). The aim is to link an effective property to relevant local fields weighted with certain correlation functions that statistically exemplify the structure and demonstrate clear scientific pathway to create new materials with specific tailorable properties. This subtopic area require elucidation of complex interplay between (first order) phase transitions for electronic/magnetic phase separation and untangle the interdependence between structural, electronic, photonic and magnetic effects. Realization of the multi-component systems that are far from equilibrium may also require new approaches to how computation itself is modeled or even an entirely new understanding of computation.

Combined External Fields: This portfolio stresses a fundamental understanding of external fields and energy through the materials microstructure at a variety of time scales and in a variety of conditions. This area includes a wide range of activities that require understanding and managing the non-linear response of materials to combined loads (i.e., thermal, acoustic, chemistry, shear or pressure fields) under high energy density non-equilibrium extremities. One example of this this objective is the interest to expand the scientific understanding of high electrical field applications through the incorporation of the new mathematical enterprises that captures the dynamic relationship between structure and properties across the space and time scales that exist at the hetero-interface. Another example is the discovery of new techniques for modeling, measuring, and analyzing thermal phenomena at multiple time and length scales in emerging novel material systems with the ultimate goal of exploiting these phenomena to design future materials and components that break the paradigm of today’s materials where the boundaries of performance/failure are defined by thermal conduction, convection, and radiation physics. As a whole, this subtopic also aims to expand the scientific base for understanding the formation, control, and mitigation of structures in external fields and use this scientific base to design and build materials far from equilibrium as well as thermodynamically stable structures.