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Invited Speakers

Leigh R. Abts
Kevin W. Lyons
Michael Khonsari
Blake Simmons
Charles O'Connor

"Where O' Where will all the Engineers and Scientists come from!"

Leigh R. Abts
Principal Research Scientist and Deputy Director
Center for Education and Outreach
The Whiting School of Engineering
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD 21211


Within the next fifteen years, nearly 55% of all engineers and scientists are eligible for retirement within the US Aerospace Workforce. Similar employment statistics can be found in almost all technology driven fields. This creates a demand that open opportunities for both the US and foreign based education systems. In fields like aerospace, more


stringent requirements are being placed on the need to hire US citizens that can qualify for citizenship or residency status. It has been estimated that the US produces between 60,000 to 90,000 engineers a year, emergent countries have the potential of graduating an order of magnitude more per year. In addition, the US now graduates some 40% of doctoral students that either return to their home countries or do not meet the citizenship requirements.

Increasingly, policy makers, educators and the business community are recognizing that the pipeline for scientists and engineers is not just a numbers game, or just a competitive analysis of jobs going overseas, but a fundamental problem that begins to “choke off supply” in the pre-college education system. The pre-college system continues to be benchmarked by low student achievement scores in mathematics and science, the lack of qualified teachers to teach these subjects, the lack of diversity in US students electing science and engineering careers, and by education practices that inhibit the integration of knowledge across disciplines. Combined, barriers are erected that not only decrease the qualified applicant pool for higher education in engineering and science, but also do not prepare the student to become an effective decision – maker in the 21st Century workforce.

In the recent report, “Learning in the 21st Century,” the need was articulated for students to acquire skills to make informed decisions in emergent global conditions impacted by rapidly changing civic, financial, economic, scientific, technological and business conditions. Engineering as a field provides opportunities for students to learn and apply knowledge across disciplines to make informed decisions on complex, trans-disciplinary decisions. Engineering can be used to stimulate students’ interests in science and mathematics. This talk will discuss how to more effectively integrate engineering processes into the K – 12 curriculum so that engineering as a “verb – design” will engage all students interests in science and mathematics so that some will pursue engineering the “noun – career.”


Dr. Leigh R. Abts is the Principal Research Scientist and Deputy Director of the Center for Education and Outreach, at The Whiting School of Engineering, at Johns Hopkins University. Prior his present position, Dr. Abts has served as Vice President of Corporate Development, Chairman of the Board, and on the Board of Directors for Future Health® Corporation, Inc., Timonium, MD; as Executive Vice President and COO, and as President and CEO for Triad Investors Corporation, Johns Hopkins University and Health System Venture Capital Fund, Baltimore, MD; Special Assistant to the Dean for Industrial Relations and Director of Technology Transfer, Center for Nondestructive Evaluation at Johns Hopkins University, Whiting School of Engineering Baltimore, MD; Director of Acoustical Research, Rexnord Corporation, Milwaukee, WS; and as Vice Chairman, President and CEO, Micro Pure Systems, Inc., Warwick, RI. Preparation for his career was with Brown University, Providence, RI where he received his Sc.B. in Biology in Engineering in 1973, and his Ph.D., in Bio-Medical Engineering in 1982.

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Nanomanufacturing: Fulfilling the promise of Nanotechnology

Kevin W. Lyons
Program Director, Nanomanufacturing
Division of Design & Manufacturing Innovation
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Blvd., Room 510
Arlington, VA 22230


The NanoManufacturing Program was established in 2001 to promote fundamental research and education at the nanoscale, and to transfer developments in nanoscience and nanotechnology discoveries from


the laboratory to industrial application with prominent societal impacts. The program emphasizes scaleup of nanotechnology for high rate production, reliability, robustness, yield, efficiency and cost issues for manufacturing products and services. This presentation will highlight the NanoManufacturing Program at the National Science Foundation. Particularly, the audience will:

  • Learn more about NSF and funding opportunities within the Design and Manufacturing Innovation Division
  • Hear about current nanomanufacturing efforts, research challenges, and future directions of the NSF Nanomanufacturing Program
  • Learn about NSF's response to hurricane Katrina
  • Get the latest status on an Government Interagency Working Group on Manufacturing that could set the stage for new funding and partnering opportunities.


Dr. Kevin W. Lyons is Program Director for the Nanomanufacturing Program within the Design and Manufacturing Innovation Division, at the National Science Foundation. Before his assignment at NSF he was Program Manager with the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, MD. At NIST he led research efforts in Nanomanufacturing, Assembly, Virtual Assembly, and Rapid Prototyping. From 1996 through 1999 he served as Program Manager with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where he was responsible for advanced research and development programs in design and manufacturing. Prior to the start of his government career in 1992, he worked in industry for 15 years. His research interests are nanomanufacturing and design methodology-design knowledge representations in the domain of mechanical and electro-mechanical components, assemblies, and systems.

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The Impact of Katrina and Rita on Louisiana's Research and Education Enterprise

Michael Khonsari
Associate Commissioner for Sponsored Programs
Research and Development
Louisiana Board of Regents
Office of Sponsored Programs
Baton Rouge, LA 70821-3677


The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, followed closely by Hurricane Rita, ranks as the most costly natural disaster in American history. On the scale of singular events that transform societies, its impact exceeds anything yet experienced in our nation.


Louisiana’s society, economy and culture have suffered severe setbacks. The destructive impact on Louisiana higher education has been colossal and pervasive. Louisiana’s long-term strategic investments in human and material resources to advance knowledge and education in the sciences and engineering has been disrupted, damaged, and in many instances destroyed.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have caused interruption and, in some cases, total cessation of educational, training, and research activities, along with the disruption of administrative and business procedures at all affected institutions. It is unclear when and under what conditions these institutions will function again at normal levels. The higher education community has significant concerns about a range of issues, spanning damage to facilities, the stability of students and faculty, and the adequacy of depleted funding sources. In light of this myriad of uncertainties, it is difficult to assess with final and complete accuracy the impact of the recent hurricanes on Louisiana’s research and educational infrastructure.

It is widely acknowledged that the essential reconstruction of Louisiana’s research infrastructure must be done in a way that positions Louisiana to contribute significantly to the nation’s scientific research and scientific education agendas. In order to accomplish these objectives, Louisiana’s higher education research and educational communities must collaborate in a unified effort of restoration, revitalization, and advancement of the affected campuses and programs. Moreover, these efforts must focus on all levels of the research and education spectrum, from senior faculty and administration to junior faculty, post-doctoral researchers, and graduate and undergraduate students. In the long term, Louisiana’s higher education research community, including students, must remain confident that the State’s research and education infrastructure and environment will be conducive to their research and careers. Their return to productive scientific careers is critical to Louisiana’s recovery, revitalization, and advancement.


Dr. Michael Khonsari is the Associate Commissioner for Sponsored Programs Research and Development at the Louisiana Board of Regents. He also holds the position of Dow Chemical Endowed Chair in Rotating Machinery and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Louisiana State University. He has previously held faculty positions at The Ohio State University, University of Pittsburgh, Southern Illinois University and faculty research fellowships at NASA, DOE, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Laboratories. Dr. Khonsari’s research expertise is in the area of tribology—Science of friction, lubrication, and wear. Dr. Khonsari serves on the editorial boards of three journals specializing in the field of tribology. He has published over 120 archival papers, book chapters, and a textbook. He is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and a fellow of the Society of Tribologist and Lubrication Engineers (STLE).

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“Advanced Sensors and Devices for the Monitoring and Detection of Water Supply Contaminants”

Blake Simmons
Principal Member of the Technical Staff
Nanoscale Science and Technology Department
Sandia National Laboratories
Livermore, CA 94550


The clean-up activities surrounding the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina brought to light several challenges in the effective monitoring, detection, and treatment of water-borne pathogens and contaminants. Sandia National Laboratories has several relevant technologies under development for our core mission of Homeland Security that may be useful in such a massive undertaking. This presentation will describe two of


these efforts: (1) surface engineered metallic nanoparticles for enhanced Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) based detection of chemicals, and (2) insulator-based dielectrophoretic polymer microfluidic devices capable of sorting and concentrating biological organisms.

In the first half of the presentation, I will describe the synthesis and utilization of metallic nanoparticles with surfaces that possess unique morphologies and spectroscopic characteristics that are useful in SERS platforms. SERS is a powerful technique that holds great promise in the realization of highly sensitive, nanoscale, and fully remote sensing devices. The nanoparticles are synthesized in a water-in-oil mixed surfactant microemuslion comprised of the anionic surfactant dioctyl sulfosuccinate and the zwitterionic lipid L-a-phosphatidylcholine. These surfactants are known to form bicontinuous networks of water throughout a given bulk oil volume, and are an ideal candidate system for producing nanoparticles with unique characteristics in a highly controlled fashion. The nanoparticles are then characterized through SEM, TEM, and EDX. The metallic nanoparticles are then shown to have an amplified response as an active sensing element that exhibited SERS in the presence of Rhodamine 6G.

For the second half of the presentation, I will describe the development of a microfluidic device based on dielectrophoresis. Dielectrophoresis (DEP), discovered by H.A. Pohl in the 1950s, is the motion of a particle caused by a non-uniform electric field. In insulator-based dielectrophoresis (iDEP), insulating microstructures produce the non-uniform electric fields to drive DEP in microsystems. We have demonstrated the performance of an iDEP device in effectively trapping and concentrating bacterial cells, spores and viruses while operated with a D.C. applied electric field and pressure gradient. Such a device can selectively trap particles when dielectrophoresis overcomes electrokinesis or advection. This occurs at specific applied field strengths for each type of particle analyzed. We have successfully demonstrated this technology in a variety of substrates and materials, including polymers, the use of which are critical for the development of a cheap, deployable, miniature disposable particle sorting and pathogen detection device. These polymeric devices were made from Zeonor® 1060R, a cyclic-olefin copolymer resin selected for its superior chemical resistance and optical properties. The polymeric devices have been shown to selectively separate and concentrate a variety of biological pathogen simulants and organisms. The dielectrophoretic response of the organisms is observed to be a function of the applied electric field and post size, solution conductivity, and post spacing. These results are currently being used to develop engineered devices, and a path forward to deployable units will also be described.


Blake A. Simmons is a Principal Member of the Technical Staff in the Nanoscale Science and Technology Department at Sandia National Laboratories located in Livermore, CA. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Washington in 1997 and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Tulane University in 2001. He has worked for over four years on the design, fabrication, integration, and testing of polymeric microfluidic devices for several lab-on-a-chip applications, including the detection of water-borne pathogens and contaminants. He has over 30 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, and patents. His current research focus is centered on the development of remote autonomous sensing devices that are based on nanoscale phenomena.

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“The Advanced Materials Research Institute at the University of New Orleans: Current Research Programs and the consequence of Katrina”

Charles O'Connor
Director for Advanced Materials Research Institute
University of New Orleans
New Orleans, LA


The Advanced Materials Research Institute (AMRI) is a multidisciplinary research institute that provides a unique opportunity to develop novel research ideas that ultimately involve the government, private, and academic sectors in the conception and development of research programs. The interactions with corporate laboratories provide a synergistic pathway that promotes technology transfer and private sector involvement in the operation of AMRI. The research at AMRI is primarily focused on nanophase materials and the manipulation of their structure and properties. Several of the current research programs at AMRI will be briefly discussed including ongoing programs in the Louisiana Consortium of the BioMagnetICs program at DARPA. Dr. O’Connor will also discuss the organization of AMRI following Hurricane Katrina and the plans to rebuild the institute.


Dr. Charles J. O'Connor is the Director of the Advanced Materials Research Institute (AMRI) and Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of New Orleans. Results of his research have been reported in more than 300 peer reviewed publications in the scientific literature and more than 200 presentations at scientific conferences and symposia. Concurrent with his teaching and research activities at UNO, Dr. O'Connor has participated in the materials science research activities of many national and international organizations. Notable among these are the Materials Science and Technology Division of Argonne National Laboratory; Laboratories of the Université de Paris – Sud at Orsay, France; the Materials Research Division of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory; the Kammerlingh-Onnes Laboratorium of the University of Leiden, The Netherlands; the Naval Weapons Center; the Naval Research Laboratory; Institut des Materiaux de Nantes, France; Exxon Research and Engineering; NEC Research Institute; and Lockheed Martin. Dr. O’Connor’s career is very broad based and includes cutting edge scientific research, development of educational programs, and attention to the broader impacts of scientific research and education on society.

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