SCE News

Corn to Cement Research Could Impact Millions

Exciting research into turning corn husks into cement is being conducted by civil engineering Ph.D. student Mark Bediako, who recently received a competitive African research award, the Emerald African Engineering Research Fund Award and John Kevern, UMKC SCE associate professor of civil engineering. Cement is very both expensive and limited in Africa but corn is abundant, especially corn husks which are often burned as trash. Agricultural materials have been shipped from Ghana to Kansas City, where they will be tested for the optimum blend and durability in UMKC’s civil engineering and materials lab and at Ash Grove Cement Company, headquartered in Overland Park. The research could provide millions affordable, durable housing and increase commercial building. For more details, read the complete UMKC Today article, From Corn to Cement.

SCE Congratulates Prof Cory Beard and His Talented Family

Many at SCE have enjoyed watching A Day in the Office: A New Musical Parody written and directed by Ryan Beard, the son of Dr. Cory Beard, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. The musical is based off the hit TV show “The Office” and has been published to YouTube! Dr. Beard’s son Ryan starts off the musical and plays the irritating regional general manager, Michael Scott. Michael and his office mates welcome Susan, a new employee to the office which puts the wackiness of the office in full bloom as a talented group of teenagers light up the stage! The 2 hour show has all of the humor you can handle, plus amazing music and dancing. Dr. Beard’s wife, Michelle, served as the executive producer for the show, and Dr. Beard’s son Jonathan plays Mose, Dwight’s cousin. Congratulations to the Beard family and thanks for the sharing the fun with us!

Big Beam Team Places in Top 5 Nationally

The Official Results are in!  Our Big Beam team placed 5th at the 2014 National Big Beam Contest and 1st at the Zone 3 (Midwest Region) Big Beam Contest.   The contest is sponsored by PCI (Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute) and attracted many contenders.  Teams adhered to a strict set of rules to build an 18 foot long precast-prestressed concrete beam which was then tested as a 16 foot span.

Boasting a collaborative team of students from University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) and Missouri University of Science & Technology (MS&T), a great amount of effort went into achieving these results.  Our heartiest congratulations and “job well done” to team members Timothy Hines (UMKC), Kristen Reynolds (UMKC), Mayuri Patil (UMKC), Eli Hernandez(MS&T), Alex Griffin (MS&T), Hayder Alghazali (MS&T) and Kaylea Smith (MS&T) and to the team faculty advisors Ganesh Thiagarajan, Ph.D. (UMKC), John Myers, Ph.D. (MS&T).  Kevin Truman, Dean of UMKC School of Computing and Engineering, noted “It is great to see success such as this, but more importantly your commitment to work as a team, to collaborate between the campuses and to use your abilities to their fullest.  As a Dean I am most proud of the fact that you all have made these commitments and followed through; the success shown in the results is just icing on the cake as they say.”

We also want to thank Mr. Mark Simpson and his group at Coreslab Structures Kansas City office, who serve as the team’s PCI Producer.  Sponsorship by a PCI producer is a competition requirement and every year Coreslab Structures has enthusiastically sponsored our Big Beam Team.  Sponsorship is a lot of effort which includes the fabrication of the student team’s design, supplying both labor and materials, and then transporting the beam to Rolla from Kansas City.   Big Beam team member and civil engineering student Kristen Reynolds sums up the impact of their support, “I am so excited and feel so blessed to have been a part of this team and experience. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be included in the UMKC and MS&T family and I have loved every minute of it. Let’s keep it up for next year!”

We wholeheartedly agree!  Go Big Beam Team!

Free Enterprise Center at UMKC Gathers Momentum

UMKC Vice Provost & Dean of the School of Computing and Engineering Kevin Truman continues to work toward the day when UMKC becomes home to the Free Enterprise Center. In the  July 23, 2014 Kansas City Business Journal article, UMKC enterprise center nabs funds for KC entrepreneurs,  he described why various constituents have currently pledged over $7.4 million, about ½ of the center’s estimated cost.  “It will be a fantastic entrepreneurial resource for the community,” Truman said. “Even though the center is proposed to be on the UMKC campus, it will handle budding entrepreneurs all the way through the industries here in town and be a resource for our students.  It’s a one-stop shop with equipment to build prototypes and explore ideas.”   The Free Enterprise Center will include laboratory space, rapid prototyping equipment, digital virtualization/visualization equipment and educational/collaborative space.  Business and technology transfer advisors will be available to serve the students, faculty, researchers, local industries, entrepreneurs, artists, and K-12 students that will utilize the center.

UM FastTrack Grant Awarded to Professors Hart & Kevern

In early Spring 2014 a provisional patent was filed by UMKC based on civil engineering Associate Professor John Kevern and Assistant Professor Megan Hart’s research on using actively enhanced pervious concrete (AEPC) as a permeable reactive barrier (PRB) for polluted groundwater treatment.  The University of Missouri FastTrack program has recently confirmed funding research by co-PIs Dr. John Kevern and Dr. Megan Hartto turn this research into a licensable technology.  Groundwater is the water source for approximately 50% of the world’s population, and approximately 30% of groundwater is estimated to be contaminated, requiring an actionable technology for remediation.

The project, Enhanced Pervious Concrete as a Permeable Reactive Barrier Technology, is divided into five tasks which will be performed over the course of one year from June 1, 2014 to May 31, 2015.  These tasks will provide the researchers the data and information needed to assemble a prospectus report suitable for dissemination to interested parties. This technology has the potential to replace or supplement the commercial applications of zero valent iron or comparable technology which treats on average 25-50% contaminated groundwater and it will be far less expensive than current techniques.

Our congratulations to Drs. Hart and Kevern!  We look forward to learning more about the results of their research and the commercialization of this technology.

Vijay Kumar Receives Curators’ Professorship


Vijay Kumar, Professor of Computer Science, has received a Curators’ Professorship effective this Fall 2014.  As stated on the awards webpage, “It is the highest and most prestigious academic rank awarded by the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri.  It is awarded to a select few outstanding scholars with established reputations.”    Dr. Kumar is a nationally and internationally-known scholar, specializing in information security, wireless and mobile computing and database systems research with particular emphasis related to cyber security and wireless data dissemination.

His Curators’ Professorship recognizes his lifetime research achievements and his continued research impact as demonstrated by a recent National Science Foundation (NSF) award for his project, A Logic-based Security Framework for Wired and Mobile Perimeter, which examines security through dynamic firewalls.  Dr. Kumar’s prior NSF grants include serving as PI with Co-PI Dr. Margaret Dunham from Southern Methodist University.  He has also received research grants from AFRL (Air Force research Lab) to work on driverless cars, HP laboratories for data warehousing, St. Luke’s research foundation on medical informatics and UMRB on main memory database systems. These grants were related to projects on information security through firewall, data dissemination on wireless channels and mobile computing. Dr. Kumar has authored five technical books which are published by Prentice Hall, John Wiley, and Kluwer.

Our heartiest congratulations to Dr. Vijay Kumar.  We are very proud of him and of his achievements and look forward to learning more about the results of his current research.  His distinguished career has spanned 43 years with 30 of them as a computer science professor at UMKC and our School of Computing and Engineering.

SCE student/faculty researchers win prestigious award for mobile app, WiFi-Honk

With all judges agreeing, the mobile app, WiFi-Honk, developed by SCE faculty and student researchers received the Best Video Award at the ACM Mobisys 2014 conference, a highly selective and premiere conference in mobile computing.  The committee included renowned researchers from academia and industries such as Google and Microsoft Research.

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SCE Baja Racing Team Places in TOP 10!


It’s been a fantastic year for the UMKC Baja Racing Team, competing in 3 races this year culminating in winning 9th in design and 21st overall (in field of 118 vehicles) at the June 4-7 SAE competition held in Peoria, IL . The Peoria race was the third and fiercest competition of the year as each vehicle entered reflected continual improvements from lessons learned in the earlier two races.  The Baja SAE UTEP held April 24-27, 2014 in El Paso, TX found the UMKC Baja vehicle scoring 12th in maneuverability and 38th Overall.   The Baja SAE Kansas held May 22-25, 2014 Pittsburg, KS resulted in 6th in sled pull and 7th in sales presentation and 41st Overall.   Complete results for all three 2014 races are now posted.

In each race the UMKC Baja Racing Team received the top overall score of Missouri universities competing and was second behind Kansas State for Kansas universities. Congratulations to the team members, officers and advisors participating in the competitions!

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UMKC & SCE to host 2015 National Student Steel Bridge Competition

Save the Date!  UMKC & SCE have the honor of hosting the 2015 National Student Steel Bridge Competition which will be held here in Kansas City on May 22-23, 2015.  From an initial field expected to number over 200 teams, the top scoring teams at the regional competitions will then advance to the national competition in Kansas City.

Our UMKC ASCE Student Chapter for the School of Computing and Engineering has been very active with regard to competing in Steel Bridge.  Since 2001, our Steel Bridge team has competed in the NSSBC a total of 7 times. Their best showing was at the 2008 national competition in Florida where UMKC placed first in the Stiffness category and in the top 10 overall. For the past two years, the ASCE Student chapter (advised by Drs. John Kevern, and Jerry Richardson) has received letters of commendation from ASCE.  We look forward to showcasing Kansas City to our nation’s future civil engineers and their faculty advisors.

New SCE Student Collaborative Space Dedicated


A $59,000 gift from Burns & McDonnell and UMKC SCE alumni who are employees of the engineering firm, is responsible for the new “student collaboration space” which was officially opened at a dedication reception on June 5.
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